Westwood College: Responding to a Class Action Law Suit in both Traditional and Online Media
In early 2009, Westwood College became the focus of a class action lawsuit, which played out in both traditional and social media. To respond to negative information being disseminated throughout numerous forms of media, and to manage ongoing concerns among the school’s faculty and students, Westwood College enlisted the services of GFM Responds, the communications and issues management practice of GroundFloor Media.
GFM Responds went into action immediately, setting up a 24-hour response team to consistently monitor traditional news stories and online posts about the class action suit and provide a response strategy in real time. To counter any negative comments and tell the clients’ side of the story, our team utilized the latest online tools, including search-optimized press releases, microsites, Facebook, various online forums, Twitter and YouTube. GFM Responds also created a detailed response process to strategically determine what types of comments to respond to and which should be left unanswered. Furthermore, we developed a comprehensive communications plan that included a stakeholder matrix, key messages, media policies and internal communications tools, including multiple forms of communications for staff, faculty and students.
Through the efforts of GFM Responds, factual information, responses and proactive information from the client are posted strategically and in a timely manner. The Westwood College Facebook and Twitter properties have a more engaged following than the social media platforms maintained by the class action lawsuit. Additionally, proactive and organic online conversations about Westwood College increased by more than 370 percent in just ten months, the number of Westwood College Facebook fans continues to grow by approximately 100 per month, and the number of YouTube video views increased by more than 600 percent in less than one year.