Government oversight requires coordinated media strategy.
In November 2008, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced it would hold public hearings to address safety concerns within the air medical services industry. The four-day hearings, which addressed the causes behind fatal accidents in the industry, included pilots, air medical operators, medical personnel and other industry stakeholders. While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible ultimately for regulatory oversight, the NTSB’s recommendations significantly influence the agency and industry.
Xenophon was uniquely qualified to assist AMOA’s hearing preparations, having assisted several clients through the process of testifying before the NTSB.
In order to address safety from a unified position, industry stakeholders formed the Air Medical Operators’ Association (AMOA). The new association represents 92 percent of air medical operators in the United States and has the primary focus of improving industry safety. One of the group’s first actions was to hire Xenophon Strategies to help guide it through the NTSB hearings. Xenophon was uniquely qualified to assist AMOA’s hearing preparations, having assisted several other clients through the process of testifying before the NTSB.
Xenophon began by conducting an exhaustive sweep of media coverage in national and regional print and broadcast outlets, trade publications and blogs. NTSB hearings generate intense media scrutiny, and this important step allowed Xenophon’s team to identify the journalists that would drive hearing coverage and proactively reach out to them with AMOA’s key messages.
As a new organization, AMOA needed to define the issues facing the air medical industry and develop messages that would frame the tone of AMOA’s discussions with the NTSB, media and public. This was accomplished through a facilitated messaging session that identified key messages. Next, Xenophon worked from a whitepaper AMOA authored for the NTSB to create a set of messaging documents that helped the association speak about its industry and stakeholders with consistency and clarity.
Xenophon also trained senior AMOA leadership on NTSB witness protocols and media/spokesperson best practices before the hearings. This three-day training provided the opportunity for participants to incorporate AMOA messages into their testimony and engage in on-camera interviews simulating hearing inquiries.
“The last time we worked together, Xenophon helped produce a strategic plan that ultimately transformed a bankrupt technology company with a stock option probe into a successful $2.1 billion acquisition.”