Issues & Crisis Communications 2008 / 1st Place / Construction in Old Riga
Categorie:Crisis communicationsTitle of campaign:Construction in Old Rigashort common description of the campaign::In 2003 Company "Doma Investicijas" (DI) bought land in historical part in OldRiga right next to the Dome square. Although historically till the WWII this landwas covered with buildings, people consider it a part of Dome square thereforeconstruction there was a very sensitive issue. DIs aim was to build a hotel. RigaCouncil institutions had already granted an official confirmation that allowedconstruction. In year 2005 unexpectedly deputies of Riga City DevelopmentCommittee (CDC) decided not to allow any construction in this historical place.As a reaction DI warned Riga City Council (RCC) on potential legal proceduresand charging for all financial losses. CDC responded to this by informing ajournalist from one of the most important daily newspapers creating negativepublicity to DI. Understanding they miscommunication with RCC, DI hiredconsultancy to solve this crisis situation and later when DI started archaeologicalexcavations in this place in 2006.
research work done during the campaign:To develop a crises communication plan following research was made:- Legal research. Through consultations with legal experts a conclusion was drawnthat the tort claim against Riga City Council (RCC) is pleadable.- Media research. Through analyzing media messages the main negative influentialjournalists were detected. Consultants also researched the main messages given bythese journalists on construction works in Tirgonu Street, i.e., Russianbusinessman is suing RCC; Doma square will be damaged and other.- Political situation monitoring. By consulting with the most importantrepresentatives of RCC consultancy found out that the decision on prohibition ofconstruction was politically motivated due to approaching local governmentelections.After solving the crisis and gaining permit to build, DI in September of 2006started archaeological excavations to prepare the place for building. Taking intoaccount the aggressive attitude from society during previous crisis and sensitivenature of the place, it was a risk to appear again on media agenda with negativepublicity. To prevent the other crisis following research was made:* Stakeholders analysis. Most influential persons and opinion leaders weredistinguished as target audiences for crisis communication.* Historical research was made to collect legible proof that this part of Domesquare was covered with buildings till Second World War and may be built-in.
strategy:To solve crisis and to prevent potential crisis in future main stakeholders weredistinguished: Riga City Council deputies, Media, Citizens of Riga and Architects.Goals- Riga City Council permits doing construction in Tirgonu Street 1/3- Possibility of negative publicity concerning archaeological research reduced tominimumStrategy- Emphasize the fact that Tirgonu street has been historically built-up area- Allow politicians to set their terms in order to get permit for building- By implementing proactive and opened communication gaining stakeholderstrust in DI as long-term investor- By involving opinion leaders and experts of architecture convince politicians andsociety on necessity to cover this territory with buildings.Messages- Ground on Tirgo u Street 1/3 till WWII was covered with buildings therefore theargument that Dome square will be defaced is based on rather emotionalarguments- Since RCC had given previous permits DI were forced into a hostage role and
would be forced to sue RCC and create considerable money lossesActivitiesTo ensure that RCC permits construction following activities were implemented:- Appointed official DI spokes person- Press conference organized- Negotiations with representatives of RCC- Journalists provided with contact list of architects who are ready to give positiveopinion on construction works in Tirgonu Street.In September 2006 when DI decided to start the archaeological excavationsConsultancy made Activity plan and implemented it to avoid second potentialcrisis situation:- Prominent historian Voldemars Eihenbaums that had made a historical researchon land parcel in Tirgo u Street 1/3 was involved in communication strategy toprove the groundlessness of arguments against construction in this place.- Data from this research were used in outdoor design of the construction site tostress the historical situation, as well as in communication with media and politics.- Negotiations with the Riga city chief architect to gain his support for the project.- Individual meeting with the head of Public administration of cultural heritage,architect Jānis Krasti š.- Providing journalists with objective information on archaeological research in apress conference supported by the positive commentaries by J.Krasti š andV.Eihenbaums.
Results of the campaign and evaluation::- DI made compromise with RCC that it is possible to cover the place withbuildings in case if archaeological excavations is made.- DI gained permit for construction.- The focus of media switched to historical aspects and archaeological research,consequently the discussion on whether construction should be allowed was takenoff the media agenda.- Second potential crisis regarding construction related activities was preventeddue to proactive and transparent communication with media.- Construction related activities (archaeological excavations) are successfullycarried out.