Durée & Company

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2013, Click to Enter The 2014 Steve Awards for Women in Business

Company: Durée & Company, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A.
Company Description: Established in 1999, the award-winning Durée & Company, Inc. is a full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The firm serves the corporate, agency and non-profit arenas for local, national and international clients.
Nomination Category: Communications & Marketing Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Crisis Communications

Nomination Title: Durée & Company: Turning a South Florida Crash into a Happy Ending Across the Nation

In up to 525 words, tell the judges about the nominated campaign: its genesis, development, planning, commission, and performance to date:

Durée Ross, president of Durée & Company, Inc., South Florida public relations, marketing, special events firm, utilized her nearly 20 years of experience in the field to develop an extraordinary crisis communication plan. On the morning of Feb. 6, 2013, a 70-year-old driver lost control of her vehicle, smashing into the front window/wall of client Havana’s Cuban Cuisine restaurant, located in Sunrise, Florida. One restaurant employee was able to narrowly avoid serious injury before the SUV destroyed a portion of the bar/dining room. No one was severely hurt.

Durée responded immediately to her client’s distress signal that afternoon. After surveying the destruction/determining that no one was in peril, she developed a crisis communication plan.

The crash, caught on the client’s interior/exterior camera system, was accessible to the media after Durée alerted police. Rather than let the incident speak for itself, Durée issued a rapid response press release with accompanying images from Havana’s, informing that the employee was unharmed, and the restaurant was in recovery mode.

The press release/images/video were distributed via email to the local affiliates including NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX affiliates; affiliates of Spanish-language stations Telemundo and Univision; and print media, including the area’s two daily newspapers, The Miami Herald and The (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel. It was also emphasized that Havana’s was a member of Broward County’s business community and beloved eatery among locals/tourists.

The release shared that the restaurant, though wounded, was still open for business, and its other Havana’s location was unaffected. The message encouraged patrons to stop by both locations to show their support, reminding of these local gems.

Additional tactics included round-the-clock availability following the release distribution. Durée responded to media inquiries/requests for interviews with the restaurant owner/affected employee, and status updates on the affected employee/driver. The media window was small, but significant, and was manned until the day’s news cycle had passed.

On Feb. 6, a segment with great visuals aired during the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and/or 11 p.m. broadcasts on Miami stations, WPLG (ABC), WSVN (FOX), WTVJ (NBC). Durée worked with onsite media, who created live reports broadcast on-scene from the restaurant, beginning early that day/continuing into the evening.

CNN National and The Fox News Network picked up the story; their producers called for permission to run the segment.

The next day, detailed articles/images were published in The Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and the segment began airing on morning news broadcasts in Tampa/St. Petersburg. By the evening, the segment was broadcast from Orlando and West Palm Beach to Indianapolis, IN and Yuma, AZ. The segment also aired in Baton Rouge, LA, and Richmond, VA.

On Feb. 8, the segment was picked up in Chicago; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose; Phoenix; Denver; Pittsburgh; Las Vegas; Birmingham, AL; Greenville, SC/Spartanburg, SC/Asheville, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Tallahassee; Augusta, GA; and Lubbock, TX.

In total, 42 TV stories aired with Nielsen audience of 1,555,234 and calculated publicity value of $60,372. The accident garnered significant print coverage, social media/viral distribution and “sharing.”

Durée’s PR expertise transformed what might have been considered an “everyday incident” among South Florida’s senior-heavy driving population to “despite the horrendous damage, no one was hurt, a happy ending.”

Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the team that created and carried out the nominated communications campaign (up to 125 words):

Durée & Company President Durée Ross fell in love with public relations at age 19 during a fated college internship, and founded her firm in 1999. She has since become an award-winning PR entrepreneur with a broad spectrum of experience spanning the corporate, agency and non-profit arenas. In April 2013, she expanded her business into a custom-designed office space in Fort Lauderdale. A University of Miami graduate with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism and sociology, she resides in Ft. Lauderdale with her family, and is an avid community advocate. She is the recipient of two American Business Awards: 2013 Communications or PR Campaign/Program of the Year – Reputation/Brand Management, and 2012 Women in Business, Female Entrepreneur of the Year/firms with fewer than 10 employees.