Plant Closing: Transparency key to uneventful outcome
A European, family-owned manufacturing company needed to consolidate its U.S. operations because clients the past 10 years had been downsizing and moving to another part of the country. As a result, the company decided to close a facility that had been operating for more than 40 years in a small town with a long and proud tradition of manufacturing.
Protect the company’s reputation as a fair and compassionate employer
Be transparent with stakeholders in communicating news of the plant closing
Immediately after employees were notified at 8 a.m. of the plant shutdown, Worden PR and a company representative called the city manager and requested a meeting, which took place about 30 minutes later. City officials were briefed on the business need for the company’s actions as well as its pledge to provide outplacement assistance above and beyond the industry norm. In addition, the company made a commitment to work with government officials to sell its facility to another manufacturer. After the meeting at city hall, Worden PR and the company representative walked down the street and introduced themselves to the editor of the local newspaper for a similar discussion. Later in the day, when a reporter and photographer from the newspaper showed up outside the plant gate to interview employees at the end the first shift, both were invited inside. Worden PR worked with the journalists to identify subjects and facilitate interviews.
One article was posted on the local newspaper’s website at midmorning based on the newsroom briefing. A second article was posted in early evening highlighting interviews with employees, union leadership and city officials. The latter article was published atop page A1 the next morning. All news coverage was fair and balanced. There were no additional articles published on the matter. More important, there were no protests or public outcries. Instead, other employers in the region contacted the company to conduct a job fair for displaced employees. In addition, economic development officials immediately began working with the company to market its plant to variety of manufacturers.
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