American Red Cross: Standing in the Breach

Overview

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans desperately wanted to help victims. Thousands turned to the American Red Cross, which was the most visible agency providing emergency services in New York and Washington, D.C. The response was unprecedented in its scope – and it overwhelmed the Oregon Trail Chapter, which happened to be undergoing a transition in its communications department.

Challenge

The chapter needed help from communications professionals who could hit the road running – and run fast. The Oregon Trail Chapter called CFM.

Approach

CFM immediately assigned one of its own staff members to work full-time on-site. He wrote key messages, set priorities, tracked requests and made staff assignments. Amid the chaos, he developed plans for the chapter to capitalize on its sudden attention. Then the mood turned. National media criticized the Red Cross for its fund distribution program. CFM counseled chapter leaders on the best ways to cope, refocusing the community's attention on the good work and responsible practices of the local chapter.

Result

Today the Red Cross continues to be the first to respond to disasters and provide help for people facing emergencies. The Oregon Trail Chapter is building on its good reputation to promote a message that all Oregon families need to be prepared to deal with a future emergency.