Master of Disaster Ronnie Klos calls in the crisis management experts

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

If your business is disaster recovery, then who do your turn to when it’s YOU at the centre of a crisis?

I took a call this week from the incomparable Ronnie Klos, boss of FFDR in Lochegelly, Fife. Ronnie has built quite an empire with his all-trades insurance business – now with more than 70 staff and almost 50 vans.

The company salvages properties devastated by fire, flood or other acts of god – which some years ago led a clever sub at the Evening News to christen him the “master of disaster” in a 72 point headline. Brilliant.

I confess to having a soft spot for Ronnie, because he was our first proper PR client when we set up Holyrood Partnership. His company has gone from strength to strength since then and is the first port of call for insurance giants like Direct Line and Halifax when their customers need their homes or business premises salvaged.

So much success in fact, that a couple of years ago, Ronnie decided he no longer needed PR because he had all the business he could cope with. Fair enough.

This week however, Ronnie found himself in a spot of bother. Media bother. Luckily for him he had his own insurance policy in his back pocket – the Holyrood Partnership emergency hotline number.

He explained how he’d appointed three key new members of staff, won three major new contracts (worth more than £1m a year), re-negotiated all existing major contracts, launched a search for at least 10 new workers, completed a £100k office refurbishment and safeguarded the jobs of all his staff until 2011.

Phew. An awful lot of good news for a wee toon like Lochgelly and well worth reporting. Only one problem. When Ronnie announced an unprecedented meeting of all his staff (with the sole intention of breaking them the good news) it set a hare running that he simply couldn’t have predicted.

And when he woke up on Saturday morning, it was to find that FFDR was front page news on the Dundee Courier with speculation that the firm was about to be bought over for the princely sum of £10 million.

Within hours a press release with the true story was winging its way to the local rags, as well as the main Scottish business media. The result – a page lead in the Courier putting the record straight, as well as coverage in The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News. And watch this space for coverage in the Fife weeklies.

In PR circles it is referred to as “crisis management”. I’m quietly pleased with the results in this case. As one insurance giant used to say in its advertising slogan, Why Make a Drama Out of a Crisis?

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