Skiworld is the largest independent ski tour operator in the UK. In
1998 it agreed to the BBC filming its staff as part of a
’fly-on-the-wall’ documentary about resort life in Val d’Isere. When
filming was completed, Skiworld discovered that the docu-soap
concentrated on Skiworld’s chalet staff and had been provocatively
entitled War and Piste.
Jane Howard PR (JHPR) was appointed to minimise any possible damage
resulting from the programme.
To limit damage which may arise from the controversial aspects of War
and Piste. To maximise the PR opportunities given by the screening to
aid recruitment of future staff.
As with all crisis management, the advice from Jane Howard PR was to
take control of the issue. With only two weeks between its appointment
and the airing of the first episode, the agency had to develop a
The team liaised with the BBC press office for War and Piste to find out
what media coverage had been set up. Unfortunately, the BBC had already
secured the involvement of many nationals and TV shows.
Also working against the agency was the fact that the subjects of the
docu-soap who had subsequently left Skiworld’s employ were told to
direct any press enquiries they received to the BBC press office, so the
agency’s media options were somewhat undermined.
Undeterred, it set about developing new ideas and angles to ensure that
Skiworld’s side of the story was told.
Stories along the lines of ’what it takes to be a great chalet girl’,
interviews with current staff and profiles of employees who had gone on
to bigger and better things received wide coverage, and radio interviews
This helped to counter the possible negative effect on recruitment -
particularly important as the documentary featured one member of staff
who was subsequently fired.
Skiworld staff were also given media training. This included preparation
for staff who were dealing with the media, and question and answer
training to help sales staff deal with awkward questions they may
receive from the public.
There has been a great deal of coverage relating to Skiworld’s
involvement with War and Piste, including pieces in the Evening
Standard, the Mail on Sunday, the Guardian and the Sunday Times.
Features also appeared in key titles for Skiworld recruitment, such as
Marie Claire and B.
As a result, recruitment has been affected in a far from adverse way -
Skiworld has been inundated with CVs from prospective employees,
confounding fears that it would lead to a slump in the number of
With the odds stacked against it, Skiworld has come out of the situation
not simply with its image intact, but in a positive light.
Sales and marketing manager Diane Palumbo has now been identified by the
media as a spokesperson for the ski travel industry, commenting on
issues such as the avalanche disasters in the French and Austrian
PR Team: Jane Howard PR
Campaign: War and Piste crisis management
Timescale: Nov - Dec 1998