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FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT AWARDED BEST OF SILVER ANVIL; COMPANY RECOGNIZED FOR HURRICANE ANDREW CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS

 NEW YORK, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company tonight was given "Best of Silver Anvil" Award by the Public Relations Society of America for its massive crisis communications program in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, the most devastating natural disaster to strike the United States.
 Florida Public Service Commissioner Susan Clark presented the award, at a banquet in New York City, to Florida Power & Light Vice President Jack Milne, who was in charge of the company's communications throughout the crisis.
 "Under what were probably the worst conditions ever faced by a public utility, FPL not only worked tirelessly to restore power, but also kept up a constant stream of communications with its employees, its customers, government agencies, and the media," Clark said.
 "The information communicated by the company contributed significantly to maintaining safety and calm," Clark continued. "So I am honored to play a role in recognizing the superb crisis management and communications program conducted by FPL. Its efforts demonstrate the critical importance of effective public relations."
 Florida Power & Light was selected for the Best of Silver Anvil Award from among 45 winners of Silver Anvils, which recognize excellence in public relations programming. In addition to the Silver Anvils, tonight PRSA also presented 15 Bronze Anvil Awards in recognition of outstanding individual components of public relations programs.
 "Hurricane Andrew demonstrated the critical importance of a crisis preparedness plan," Milne said. "In 1992, the same year that FPL reorganized to streamline management layers, we revamped our crisis plan. With the plan as a framework, our staff was empowered to make on- the-spot decisions and carry them out. The result was a well-rehearsed, cohesive team of employees at every level -- from field lineman to CEO -- who understood what to do and what to say."
 Hurricane Andrew roared across South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, leaving 1.4 million homes and businesses without electricity. Much of FPL's transmission system was damaged. As field crews worked to restore power, the company's public relations staff launched a comprehensive communications effort.
 In the first month following the storm, FPL staffers responded to more than 1,600 media calls, (in English and Spanish), conducted almost daily executive news briefings, issued 66 news releases and backgrounders, arranged media tours and crew interviews, and produced briefing videos for TV stations that did not dispatch their own crews.
 Advertising was used to deliver safety messages through 54 radio stations, eight TV stations, and seven major newspapers. Employees received information via several daily updates, a daily live television program, and special issues of company publications. Federal, state and local government officials and the military received daily status reports.
 In addition, the company's investor relations staff organized a teleconference for FPL's CEO with 75 industry analysts and portfolio managers and prepared detailed information on recovery efforts and distributed it to company shareholders.
 The company's communications produced positive results, according to the entry summary prepared by FPL: "...Employees stayed focused and committed. Repeated safety messages resulted in NO customer electrical injuries or deaths and less than a half-dozen injuries among the more than 4,000 field crew members working around the clock in Florida's hot, humid climate. Stock prices remained stable.
 "Post-hurricane surveys show satisfaction with the company has actually increased by 20 percent. Media coverage was balanced, supportive and occasionally laudatory."
 PRSA is the world's largest organization for public relations professionals. The Society's 15,232 members represent business and industry, counseling firms, government, associations, hospitals, schools, professional services firms and nonprofit organizations.
 A two-page summary of the winning program follows. Quotes by Clark and Milne were taken from their prepared remarks.
 "FPL: OUT OF ANDREW'S SHADOW"
 Research
 In 1989, Florida experienced a freak Christmas freeze. It snowed in the Sunshine State. Millions lost power. For utilities, the holiday was a horror, followed by legislative hearings, finger-wagging and emergency rules by state agencies. Florida Power & Light's customer confidence plunged 12 percent and remained severely depressed for more than a year. Out of the melee, FPL's communications department revamped its entire crisis program, devoting special attention to major emergencies -- capacity, nuclear, fuel shortage, and our most-likely threat: hurricanes.
 FPL entered 1992 with a revised crisis program that, although recognized nationally as a model, was untested in actual storm conditions. In the aftermath of a company-wide reorganization months earlier that eliminated 2,300 jobs and nearly a third of the corporate communications staff, we conducted a "dry run" of the hurricane crisis plan. Work was needed. We had a corporate staff primarily "green" to the sensitivities of crisis response and a field organization -- plus 3.2 million customers -- who had not experienced a full-scale hurricane in decades.
 Planning
 Customer satisfaction, electrical reliability and safety rank high among FPL's corporate goals. Departmentally, our plan's objective is to provide timely, consistent information to customers, employees and the financial community. Through such communications, we hope to help protect the health and safety of our employees and the public and foster a high level of confidence in the company's ability to handle and recover from a crisis, avoiding a repeat of the Christmas blackout scenario that severely damaged FPL's image. We seek to take the initiative with the news media and make senior FPL management available to ensure our messages will be listened to and acted upon by the public. Success will be measured by: customer attitudes during and after a recovery; media coverage and the tone in which our efforts are treated; reaction of the financial community and the demonstrable performance of our employees.
 To remedy the plan's shortcomings as a result of the reorganization, we educated and media-trained new executives on the breadth and immediacy of information needs, prepared key field personnel to know how and when to respond, and gave both groups the content to do the job well. We found employees who had experienced hurricanes and asked their help to develop written responses to the 45 "most asked" questions. These became the cornerstone of our communications. Guidelines were sent to line crews and field personnel encouraging them to talk to customers and the media if a disaster occurred. A full package of materials was issued to customer phone representatives so the company's "single voice" could be maintained. Finally, every corporate communications employee received specific training on what he or she would be required to do and what others would be doing. We even asked the media how and when they would like to receive information during a crisis. We were wrapping up our efforts as "hurricane season" began June 1.
 Execution
 Saturday, Aug. 22, all indications were that a hurricane would hit somewhere in FPL's 35-county service territory. The media staff convened early Sunday, issued detailed safety instructions both internally and externally, activated pre-positioned media ads and staffed to ride out the storm. Hurricane Andrew -- the most devastating natural disaster in the nation's history -- struck South Florida in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 24, with sustained winds clocked at 145 mph and gusts in the 175-200 mph range. The storm's center came ashore south of downtown Miami, cut a path across the Everglades and exited into the Gulf of Mexico. In its aftermath, 1.4 million homes and businesses lost electricity. Much of FPL's transmission system lay toppled. Devastation was awesome. FPL's Turkey Point Nuclear Plant was in the eye of the storm; 25,000 homes were destroyed and 80,000 severely damaged; 600 FPL employees -- including some communications staff -- became part of the "new homeless;" public use of portable generators threatened the safety of FPL linemen; crews were impeded by impassable, traffic-clogged roads; scavengers stole materials before FPL could turn on the lights, and afternoon rainstorms dumped more water into already damaged buildings, handicapping restoration. All of this combined to challenge FPL's communications efforts.
 During the first 34 days of restoration, FPL's communications staff handled almost 1,600 media calls (in English and Spanish), conducted executive news briefings for the first 18 days, issued 66 written releases and backgrounders, coordinated special morning and evening photo opportunities, provided tours and crew interviews (including helicopter fly-overs) and distributed daily briefing videos and special visuals (use of generators, how FPL's system operations works, etc.) to TV stations that could not attend. The department's investor relations group organized a special CEO teleconference for 75 analysts and portfolio managers by day four, followed by a detailed recovery package and a letter to shareholders. Advertising, both pre- and post-storm, gave safety messages on 54 radio stations, eight TV stations and seven major newspapers. Internally, we issued multiple daily updates to field personnel, started -- and maintained -- a daily live employee television show and produced several special issues of our regular publications. Daily status reports were shared with federal, state and local government officials and the military. Many communicators worked 18- to 20-hour days; others slept at the office because streets weren't clear or their homes were too badly damaged.
 Evaluation
 Keeping our key audiences abreast of all aspects of the recovery effort through continuous updates helped us establish the credibility and understanding customers needed to be patient. It helped employees stay focused and committed. Repeated safety messages resulted in NO customer electrical injuries or deaths and less than a half-dozen injuries among the more than 4,000 field crew members working around the clock in Florida's hot, humid climate. Stock price remained stable. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in part because of special communications initiated by FPL, authorized the restart of the nuclear reactors that had received a direct hit from the hurricane, a national first. Post-hurricane surveys show satisfaction with the company has actually increased by 20 percent. Independent surveys confirmed FPL received better grades than other utilities and was ranked one of the highest among all emergency responders. Media coverage was balanced, supportive and occasionally laudatory. We continue to receive letters of praise from customers, even children who remember our communications messages.
 FPL is continuing its extra effort to bring the community and our employees out of the shadow of this devastating storm. We have: launched tree give-away programs to help "re-green" South Florida; obtained Public Service Commission permission for special energy conservation services for customers faced with rebuilding their homes and businesses; initiated special rebuild news stories, printed rebuild guidelines, and continued to provide crisis services to storm-stressed employees.
 Hurricane Andrew was the first major test of FPL's revamped crisis plan. Cost to prepare was covered by FPL's regular budget; direct storm and recovery communications, though months-long, were covered under a regulatory-required storm restoration fund. We believe that the effort may well have had a priceless impact on confidence in the utility. The stigma of the Christmas blackout of 1989 is behind us.
 -0- 6/9/93
 /CONTACT: Donna Peltier, APR, public relations director of PRSA, 212-995-2230/


CO: Florida Power & Light Company; Public Relations Society of America ST: Florida IN: UTI SU:

WB-OS -- NY033 -- 0195 06/09/93 13:31 EST
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