Case Studies

Case Study 1: Preventing Public Outrage

A company that services the nuclear industry came under scrutiny from a government agency concerning its operations contacted us seeking messaging and media management.

The agency planned to generate press coverage about its monitoring of the company’s practices, although the company was discharging treated wastewater well under the limits established by the agency. Our client was concerned that although it was in strict compliance, attention drawn to its operations could stir up opposition from those who would rather not have such a business in their community. Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations met with the media to explain the company’s operations, demonstrate how its extensive practices ensured no harm to the environment would occur, and outline the economic benefits it provided the community. We also asked the press to reference a special community website we established concerning the matter. The client enjoyed a successful outcome: the press wrote a balanced story, the public was given a resource that clearly put the facts into perspective and dispelled rumors, and the opposition that did form against the company was short-lived as it could not gain public support.


Case Study 2: Rescuing a Reputation

A newspaper reported that a law firm specializing in the collection of delinquent taxes might be fired by a municipality over a performance issue. Our analysis revealed the law firm processed claims as soon as it received them and recovered money was rapidly remitted back to the municipality. We also learned that in fact, the collections contributed to the municipality’s ability to hold the line on taxes during a bad economy. The reporter dug in, and it became evident that the bottleneck existed within the municipality’s system—not the law firm’s. The reporter wrote a follow-up article that not only put the situation in perspective, but also gave the law firm substantial positive publicity. The law firm continues to serve the municipality and has since enjoyed a number of positive articles to include powerful endorsements by the newspaper’s editorial board. A neighboring municipality took notice of the positive publicity, and as a result, hired the law firm to collect their delinquencies.


Case Study 3: Turning an Adversarial Coalition into Allies

A company that operates low income properties throughout Pennsylvania contacted us concerning a group of tenants that had lodged complaints to the media and the municipal government, indicating that management had failed to replace an oil system allegedly causing frequent spills. The group said management was nonresponsive, would not return phone calls, and overbilled tenants whose oil meters “skyrocketed” due to leaks. As a result, the company suffered bad press coverage and a slew of agencies along with the municipality met with the tenants’ group to try to force management into installing a costly new oil distribution system.

Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations worked with the company and its legal team to diffuse the situation. As part of our analysis, we researched the cause of several leaks that occurred over several years. We discovered that many of the leaks were the results of events that had nothing to do with the oil distribution system. One major event was the result of an error made by a contractor hired by a tenant; others resulted from faulty connections to tenants’ homes—connections made by tenants, not the property owner. Through that process, we also discovered patterns by the chief actors of the tenants’ group to include embellishment of facts, fabrications, and a habit of contacting the municipality and agencies without first notifying the property’s management when “anything went wrong” including a malfunctioning streetlight bulb.

When we communicated those findings to the municipalities, agencies, and the media, the tide began to turn. Armed with the facts, we initiated discussions with the municipalities and agencies, forging a new relationship and open communications. As a result, the municipality and agencies contact us any time a resident files a complain to our perspective and to check with us to make sure the tenants have notified management. Since initiating communications, the media has been much more balanced, and in fact, some articles have been altogether prevented.


Case Study 4: The Cases we cannot Publish

Some of our most important work involves headlines that never published, reports that never aired, and damaging accounts that did not go viral over the Internet. These are stories of businesses victimized by white collar crime, gross employee misconduct, and government scrutiny. As a top Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley public relations firm, Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations is the agency with the reputation of keeping bad news from breaking in the first place.