With millions of people passing through Simon’s Northeast portfolio of malls each month, there’s always a need to be ready to react on a moment’s notice and provide the best strategy for dealing with any incidents that occur and the media attention they receive. In this particular situation, an armed robbery at Roosevelt Field, a super-regional shopping center in Nassau County, NY, resulted in an innocent bystander being shot inside the mall. To make matters even more challenging, the incident occurred in the middle of the day during the height of the holiday shopping season.
Within minutes of the armed robbery/shooting media crews were contacting the mall and the PR agency seeking information. Immediately, the agency established a direct line of communication with mall management to both receive up to the minute reports, which led to a series of statements that were crafted and delivered to the anxious media. As news crews began to arrive on property, a media staging area was established in the parking lot, which allowed mall management to maintain a better semblance in controlling press activity. Media crews were not allowed inside the mall to get footage of the scene to minimize the visuals. As more information began to unfold, the agency provided additional updates to the media and directed calls to a contact from the Nassau County Police Department, which was leading the investigation. Eventually, the police held a press briefing to further clarify details about the incident. Numerous media crews conducted live reports from the property for the remainder of the day and into the late news broadcasts.
By responding immediately to the onslaught of media inquiries following the incident and by working closely with mall management and law enforcement officials, the agency was able to dispel many rumors connected to the event and allow for accurate information to be reported throughout the process. Tracking of the media captured more than 200 stories and included coverage from print and electronic outlets all over the U.S. and as far away as Japan, London and Russia.