Closing the Door on the Press: The Beckman Strategy
Beckman Instruments, Inc., a Southern California-based company that manufactures scientific instruments, found itself at the center of media attention when two of its employees were kidnapped by terrorists in El Salvador. The kidnapping and the circumstances surrounding the release of the hostages were potentially front-page stories. Beckman's strategy, however, reduced the actual coverage to an absolute minimum. Here is how it happened.
On September 21, 1979, the State Department notified senior executives at Beckman Instruments that two of its employees-- Dennis A. McDonald, manager of Beckman's subsidiary in El Salvador, and Fausto R. Bucheli, an engineer from one of the company's Fullerton divisions--had been kidnapped and the driver of their car killed. Senior management, including the CEO, chief legal counsel, and the heads of public relations and personnel, among others, met the next day. This group, minus the CEO, formed a special crisis management task force that met daily until the hostages were released. Almost immediately upon learning the news, Beckman contacted Fred Raynes, a security consultant first retained by the company nearly two years before. Raynes immediately flew to El Salvador where he served as the chief negotiator for the release of the hostages.
The initial press contact with Beckman occurred that same friday evening. By the next day a senior Beckman executive had contacted
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Publication information: Book title: Managing the Media:Proactive Strategy for Better Business-Press Relations. Contributors: Fred J. Evans - Author. Publisher: Quorum Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1987. Page number: 105.
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