Situation: When Union Presbyterian Seminary sold a parcel of land adjacent to its campus to a leading national multifamily developer, a vocal group of neighbors organized to block the development. Despite the need for new, quality housing in the community, this classic NIMBY effort played out in legal courts and the court of public opinion, threatening the development’s viability and Union’s long-standing reputation.
Results: Gray Ryan Communications crafted a multipronged crisis communications and reputation management response. A key campaign component was shifting the negative media coverage and better positioning this development as a significant win for the neighborhood and the larger city. This campaign included media relations, strategic messaging, community relations, social media monitoring and response, and neighborhood engagement.
Almost immediately, media coverage was more balanced as Union’s position was now included in over 75% of the news stories about the development. Additionally, Gray Ryan secured high profile local media placements in Richmond Magazine, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and a local NPR affiliate about this development’s positive impact, including a new urban farm. This development successful cleared all legal and zoning hurdles while the community relations component of the campaign resulted in a 95% reduction of negative public sentiment through the removal yard signs and other displays.