In early 2010, Seattle BioMed approached Nyhus for strategic communications counsel surrounding a significant scientific expansion for the institute, as well as the announcement of a succession plan for its president and founder, Ken Stuart – two very sensitive issues.
The logistics surrounding this corporate transition included the relocation of more than 50 employees from another local research institute. Nyhus was faced with positioning the expansion and transition as a positive development for both Seattle BioMed and the Seattle global health industry as a whole. Another challenge was alleviating concerns that Stuart, the institute’s long-time leader, would no longer have a presence in the organization he built from the ground up. Additional factors including contracts and agreements made any advance media relations work a challenge.
Nyhus provided strategic communications counsel throughout the months leading up to the formal announcement on March 14, 2011, developing a comprehensive set of messages for the expansion and transition announcement. From this messaging architecture, Nyhus assisted in the creation of a press release, Q&A and key messages document for all stakeholders involved. A media strategy was also developed, including several thought leadership angles for Stuart and a targeted strategy for the announcement itself. Nyhus also arranged and facilitated several media training sessions to ensure all parties were familiar and comfortable with messaging. Prior to the announcement, Nyhus also counseled Seattle BioMed on a strategy for internal (employee) communications and timing, as well as timing for communications to key funders and partners.
The announcement was successful, with a feature-length exclusive article secured in Xconomy and day-of coverage from virtually all other local media outlets, as well as longer-lead opportunities with national outlets. All coverage was neutral to positive in tone, and positioned Seattle BioMed as a leader in the global health industry. Nyhus’ efforts also led to several new national business press relationships for the institute, which, prior to the announcement, had seen mostly local coverage.