23 Jul 17
Crisis + Issues Management
With more New Zealand astronauts booked to fly on the world’s first commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic per capita than any other country, the media spotlight on the venture in this market was significant.
Impact PR was tasked first with raising the profile of space tourism in this country and then managing a significant crisis as an experimental test flight exploded, making international headlines.
In the weeks following the implementation of a highly successful nationwide publicity campaign that saw widespread media coverage on NZ TV, radio, print and online media promoting the space tourism opportunity for New Zealanders, the VSS Enterprise, a SpaceShipTwo experimental spaceflight test vehicle operated by Virgin Galactic, suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup during a test flight and crashed in the Mojave Desert near Cantil, California.
News of the crash spread rapidly to this market with local media approaching our client for comment.
Working in conjunction with Virgin Galactic across international time zones, Impact PR sought updates on the latest facts of the case, developed localised materials for NZ representatives and coordinated media response that aligned with international messaging around the issue.
Memos were issued to staff members of the NZ agency’s representatives reminding them not to comment to media and to redirect the inquiry to the New Zealand spokesperson.
Once NZ spokespeople were briefed and prepared, media calls were vetted by Impact PR before coordinating selected interviews.
In the days following the crash Impact PR helped develop a message that New Zealand astronauts were unphased by the crash, had confidence in the safety of the space flights. The messaging included the fact that Sir Richard Branson would be on the inaugural flight himself.
The subsequent media coverage in this market reflected the understanding of New Zealanders that this was a test programme and no NZ passengers had requested a refund.