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July 20, 2010

Dix & Eaton Shapes Communications Strategies, Messaging in Key Crises

CLEVELAND – July 13, 2010 – Dix & Eaton’s crisis communications team is experiencing one of its strongest periods in several years, with the firm providing strategic communications counsel to organizations involved in incidents and issues making national headlines – including a mining accident and major automaker recall.

“By their nature, crises put tremendous strain on an organization and demand on its internal resources, precisely at a time when its reputation is most vulnerable,” said Managing Director Matt Barkett, who heads the firm’s crisis communications practice. “We’re very pleased to have been called upon to help a number of very visible companies develop effective strategies and messaging to confront major crises head-on.”

In the aftermath of the April explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine, the firm was engaged by Massey Energy’s insurance carrier to help shape communications strategy and outreach to families and the news media. The firm also staffed a 24-hour media call center, monitored and analyzed traditional and social media coverage, and assisted in the development of benefits communications for families.

Other crisis engagements include a role related to Toyota’s January recall of more than 2.3 million vehicles because of concerns over a small number of incidents involving sudden unintended acceleration. CTS Corp., which supplies gas pedals to Toyota, engaged D&E for senior counsel and messaging development in its communications to customers, employees and the news media.

Clients facing highly visible labor relations issues also continue to turn to Dix & Eaton. In recent months, for example, the firm provided strategic counsel to the Germany-based management of HUGO BOSS, which engaged in successful negotiations that kept its Cleveland manufacturing facility open.

The firm’s expertise also remains in high demand by organizations involved in major transactions, proxy battles and financial crises that put their reputations at risk. Most recently, D&E helped Myers Industries successfully fend off a proxy contest with investor Mario Gabelli’s GAMCO Asset Management for the second straight year.

In addition, successful work on behalf of two regional air carriers led to an opportunity for Dix & Eaton to provide ongoing strategic counsel and training on crisis issues and regulatory matters to one of the nation’s largest airlines. Previously, D&E worked closely with the management of Colgan Air and its parent company, Pinnacle Airlines, as they prepared for February’s National Transportation Safety Board “sunshine hearing” on the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 outside Buffalo, N.Y. The effort culminated a major, year-long role by D&E that included on-the-ground crisis counsel, strategy development and messaging, and preparing the airline’s executives to present testimony and handle the crush of media inquiries surrounding House and Senate subcommittee hearings and an NTSB special hearing on aviation safety.

Dix & Eaton is an integrated communications consultancy specializing in public relations, investor relations, crisis communications and customer communications. Working as partners, we bring deep experience, foresight and creativity to every relationship and help clients realize the full power of communication to drive results. Founded in 1952, Dix & Eaton has been named the best midsize firm and the best midsize, full-service firm in the United States. For more information, visit

Amy McGahan
(216) 241-3027