A leaking valve forced a shutdown of two units (three in total) of Northeast Utility’s (NU) Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. The following week Time Magazine ran the cover story titled Nuclear Warriors, which was essentially a “whistle blower” article where two NU senior engineers claimed a long history of neglect for the proper safety procedures and deliberate misconduct designed from the top down, for cost cutting purposes.
Following the Time Magazine piece, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) investigation subsequently shut down unit 3 soon after and placed the entire Millstone plant on the “Watch List” — meaning the utility could not come back online until they showed they would be operated according to their licenses.
M Group executives were part of the crisis response team, hired to handle all internal and external communications for NU’s Nuclear Division. Based on-site at the Millstone plant and NU’s headquarters in Connecticut, the team spearheaded all media, government, activist, community, employee and shareholder relations initiatives.
While the crisis was significant for the Company, communications was the driving force behind managing the negative impact to all constituents, and the beginning of a campaign for better corporate governance to build a positive, proactive corporate reputation.
Media Relations: Daily monitoring, strategic council and development of response scenarios designed to minimize the negative impact of national media attention; proactive message development, extensive media training and interview placement.
Government Relations: Worked with Black, Kelly Scruggs and Healey (lobbying firm), on all communications with the NRC; prepared materials and conducted training for each correspondence. In addition, conducted outreach to and worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-government organization, in support for NU’s current activities and future initiatives.
Activist Relations: Liaised with multiple anti-nuclear activists as well as local community groups; developed action plans in response to each; opened lines of communications with those less hostile and delivered consistent, real-time information re: Millstone, thus minimizing protests.
Community Relations: Developed proactive communications plans for local and regional community leaders; held regular informational meetings with each; provided community support.
Employee Communications: Developed communications procedures for real-time information delivery; message and collateral development and provided forum for questions/ concerns.
Shareholder Relations: Assisted CFO with message and materials development for all shareholder communications — both proactive and reactive — including sellside and buyside marketing, investor roadshows, corporate presentations and special situation shareholder meetings.