A 93-year-old woman died from hypothermia last week in Wisconsin. Her body was found outside of Four Winds Manor, the assisted living home where she lived. The Wisconsin Dept of Health Services which licenses assisted living and nursing homes is investigating. The administrator of the home declined comment. The Four Winds should treat the death of their resident as a public relations crisis and implement the following:
- contact the victim’s family privately and express their deep sorrow and regret. Assure them that they’re cooperating with the investigators.
- contact the families of current residents and acknowledge the incident, expressing sorrow and regret while reassuring them of the safety procedures in place to avoid another similar accident.
- post news of the woman’s death prominently on the Four Winds homepage and express regret (similar to the letter sent to current residents). This is not admitting guilt but instead will reassure future residents. The post is temporary.
This company does not have a blog or news component to their website in which to speak about the incident. They do not have any social media links on their webpage. Since they’ve kept census reports high enough to stay in business for decades (they’re privately owned), it may seem they’re getting along fine without keeping up with marketing technology. However, in today’s fast-paced, internet driven world, bad PR is hard to overcome. Verona, WI is a medium-sized town 10 miles from Madison; an unresponsive assisted living community is likely to reinforce bad stereotypes and drive potential customers into the arms of their competitors.