Managing Public Opinion During A Crisis Wins Two 2014 National Writing Awards

APEX and The Communicator Awards give feature writing “awards of distinction” to Alta College’s Bill Ojile and GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky

DENVER, July 30, 2014 – An article on managing public opinion during a media crisis for ACC Docket was given the 2014 Feature Writing “2014 Award of Excellence” by APEX and a “2014 Communicator Feature Writing Award of Distinction” by The Communicator Awards.

The eight-page article was written by Bill Ojile, senior vice president and chief legal officer for Colorado-based Alta Colleges, Inc. and Gil Rudawsky, vice president at Denver-based GroundFloor Media. It appeared in the July/August 2013 edition of ACC Docket and is titled “Managing the Court of Public Opinion During a Media Crisis.” ACC Docket is a monthly publication by the Association of Corporate Counsel, which promotes professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives.

Ojile is responsible for the company’s legal, compliance, regulatory, HR, corporate secretarial and governmental affairs. He received his BS in accounting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and his JD from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Rudawsky specializes in crisis communication and issues management, and is a former newspaper reporter and editor. He is a regular contributor to Ragan’s PRDaily and is quoted nationally on his crisis expertise.

In the article, Ojile and Rudawsky use specific case studies to illustrate the most effective ways to respond to a media crisis. The authors offer a toolkit for proactive responses to negative press, including: a positive, forward-looking statement about the company; tools for internal constituencies to address the fallout from the negative story; and a direct message to key company stakeholders, such as customers, vendors, regulators or government officials.

The approach has three goals, the authors state:

  1. Limit or contain the negative story. If it is a traditional media story, make it a one-day story. The company should do nothing to extend or enlarge the story. Make your response to the request for comment a positive, forward-looking statement about the company.
  2. Provide tools to respond. Your internal constituencies need the tools to deal with the fallout from the story. Employees, particularly front-line, customer-facing employees, will need to answer questions. Managers also need to address employee concerns that may arise from the issue.
  3. Take your message directly to your audiences. Deal with key company stakeholders, such as customers, vendors, regulators or government officials, directly, rather than indirectly through the media.
  4. “A crisis can test a company’s resiliency, and the legal and PR team are at the center of the storm. They will be intensely judged on how they handle the controversy and recovery. To adequately respond to a media crisis, you need to understand the process,” Ojile and Rudawsky say in the article.

    APEX Awards are based on excellence in editorial content and the ability to achieve overall communications effectiveness. The Communicator Awards recognizes big ideas in marketing and communications. The Communicator Awards receives more than 6,000 entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world.

    The entire article on Crisis PR is available on the GroundFloor Media blog.

    About Alta Colleges
    Alta Colleges is the parent company of Westwood College, an institution of higher learning with 14 campuses located in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia. Westwood offers a hands-on, career-focused curriculum in fields such as healthcare, technology and business. Westwood is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). A 2012 survey conducted by Noel-Levitz showed Westwood students are significantly more satisfied than the comparison group of approximately 125 public and private colleges, particularly in the areas of course content, quality of instruction and the school meeting their career goals. For more information, visit

    About GroundFloor Media
    Staffed entirely by seasoned industry pros, GroundFloor Media is an award-winning, integrated agency focusing on strategic communications, digital & social media strategy, and crisis communication & reputation management. Headquartered in Denver, GFM has more than 35 team members across the country. Additionally, the agency has global reach across six continents through its membership in the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN). Ambitious brands like Oskar Blues Brewery, Children’s Hospital Colorado, BNSF Railway, Colorado Office of Recovery, Bellco, 34 Degrees and Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver have collaborated with GFM during the past fourteen years.. For more information about the agency and its award-winning crisis and issues-based work, visit or get to know the agency on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.