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Communications Pave the Way for Reputational Recovery Following Record Settlement

Challenge:

A large post-acute care provider was facing record regulatory fines following a whistleblower lawsuit and allegations of health care fraud. As it prepared for news of the settlement to become public, the company needed to reassure stakeholders of its commitment to reform while preserving key relationships and setting the stage for ongoing reputational recovery.

Strategy & Tactics:

Our Issues Management teams worked closely with the client and its legal and compliance team to understand the events leading up to the settlement and articulate the many reforms put in place by a new company leadership. In addition to developing messaging announcing the settlement agreement, we created a comprehensive communications strategy to help share the news with priority audiences including employees, referrers and strategic partners. We worked closely with the company’s internal communications team to develop a detailed cascade plan and provided managers with tools to share the news with the organization’s large and highly mobile workforce. We also worked with local, trade and national media to ensure coverage reflected the significant reforms the company had put in place and the new management team’s commitment to ethics and compliance.

Results:

As a result of carefully crafted messaging and proactive communications strategy, the settlement proved to be a transformational moment for the company. While the government’s announcement generated significant media attention, coverage was balanced and included information on the steps new leadership had taken to address these issues and ensure compliance going forward. Thanks to significant planning, internal audiences were able to hear the news firsthand and gain additional context through a series of live town-hall meetings and conference calls. Managers reported they were able to use the messaging and tools we provided to reassure concerned clients, referrers and other critical stakeholders in their local markets.

Building upon the messaging Lovell created, the company continued its reputational recovery efforts in the months following the announcement – communicating proactively and frequently with internal audiences and key stakeholders. Approximately two years after the settlement, Lovell worked with the client and a major trade publication to revisit the company’s cultural transformation.

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