Rising from the flames

Watching the flames on the roof of Notre Dame brought back memories of when our own North Somerset icon – the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare – was destroyed in a devastating fire. 

A few days after the event the pier owners called Empica to support them as they tried to cope with the devastating loss of their business and the intense scrutiny of the local, regional and national media. 

For the owners it was a huge emotional blow as they had grown up seeing the pier every day and had been delighted when as adults with successful business careers they had been able to take it under their wing. 

Of course it did not boast precious artworks, the Crown of Thorns from Christ’s head and the love of people from many nations – but there was still a huge outpouring of love for the loss of an attraction that played such a big part in many people’s young lives. 

The first job to do was exactly the same as that declared by Mr Macron. It was to announce in clear and determined voices that the pier would be rebuilt and would re-open and that it would be better than ever. 

We are not giving any great secrets away when we say that at the time those things were said the pier owners had no hard evidence they would be able to achieve the rebuild. In fact if they knew just how long and tough a road it would be they might not have set off along it! 


But it was important in a crisis to give clear messages and clear leadership about intentions. From that moment on the focus changed. No longer were the media – and everyone else – wallowing in what had happened. They were now focussed on more important things – the potential for what could happen next. 

Excitement around the look and contents of a new pier – the opportunities it might bring for Weston-super-Mare was soon building with regular good news stories. Eventually the pier (complete with state of the art fire safety equipment) became a reality and our job has now switched to helping prompt visitors and promote the fabulous events there. 

For Notre Dame and the Grand Pier it was real flames. For your business it may be metaphorical fire-fighting against a threat that is going on. Call us if you need a partner to help you communicate your intentions and move you to the next stage.  

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Find out how we can help you in a crisis

Our crisis team have handled every kind of negative incident and difficulty that a business might face. We act as your press office in a crisis enabling you to deal with the major issues while ensuring the media have timely, accurate information. Whether it is an accident, major complaint, regulatory or compliance issue or other incident we are here to help.