Colonial Hills Baptist Church
“During an extraordinarily difficult time in the life of our church we turned to the Bose Public Affairs Group team for wisdom and direction. Roger and his team effectively walked us through dealing with the barrage of media requests and demands while being sensitive to our hurting families. Roger’s team was invaluable to me personally as a trusted advisor who could help me think clearly as the unexpected representative on behalf of our church and the families who lost loved ones in a horrific accident.”
Jeff Leffew, Deacon, Colonial Hills Baptist Church
On a sunny summer day, a tragedy struck Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis when the church’s bus crashed into a median at a busy intersection, killing three and injuring 19 people. The bus was filled with mostly teenagers, who had just enjoyed a camp trip in Michigan and were only a mile away from the church where their loved ones waited to transport them home.
The church’s leader and senior pastor lost his son, who was the church’s youth pastor, his daughter-in-law and his youngest grandchild. A church member and a mother of five children also died in the crash. It was obvious the accident would have a lasting impact on many people. Within an hour of this tragedy and with immediate local and national attention focused on the accident, Bose Public Affairs Group (BPAG) was called to lead the church through this crisis.
BPAG created a strategy that effectively managed the high-volume of media requests from local and national outlets on the day of the accident and the following months. In addition, the crisis plan also engaged the community in positive ways since so many people wanted to offer support including both church members and the general public. Multiple strategies and tactics were deployed to help church leaders get through the crisis so that they could focus on their members who needed peace and support to heal:
- News conferences providing timely updates
- Interviews with church leaders
- Community events
- Social Media messages
- Website development
BPAG worked closely with Colonial Hills to create transparency by granting members of the media opportunities to enter the church and have access to its members. As a result, the church leaders successfully conveyed the church as a sanctuary for healing after tragedies. Reporters focused on positive stories that detailed the efforts of a community coming together to help victims after the crash and the bonds members, particularly the teens involved in the crash, formed to their church. An effective and coordinated communications effort turned a tragedy into something that positively engaged the community and strengthened the faith of church members.
The Public Relations Society of America’s East Central District recognized BPAG with the Diamond Award in the Crisis Communications category for the strategic communications services the team performed on behalf of Colonial Hills Baptist Church. To read more about the award, please click here.