PR Win: Cleveland Kidnap Victims Break Silence with ‘Thank You’ Video

Here’s a great video to show your grandmother the next time she asks “What does a PR company do, anyway?”

Last night, Cleveland-based crisis management/media training firm Hennes-Paynter posted this short YouTube video featuring each of the three young women who spent more than a decade in captivity after being abducted by a neighbor in their Ohio suburb. Their dramatic rescue moved millions of Americans, and this clip marks the beginning of the next chapter in their very public saga.

Why did Hennes-Paynter decide to release the video at this point in time?

Unfortunately, the fact that suspect Ariel Castro pled “not guilty” to the 300+ charges filed against him means that the women will face more time in the public spotlight. We have little doubt that news coverage of the trial will be nonstop, and everyone from Nancy Grace to whatever legal “expert” CNN manages to drudge up will let us know what they think.

This clip reintroduces the public to the victims and effectively serves as the case’s opening shot, leaving no doubt that the three will be strong witnesses for the prosecution. Perhaps most importantly, it presents the young women as resilient survivors who have grown together through their experience and plan to make the most of their lives. Michelle Knight, who spent the longest period in captivity, announced plans to work as a counselor after her “walk through hell.” Inspiring, no?

Kudos to Hennes-Paynter for presenting the women as more than victims and providing the world with compelling evidence of their recovery. This is what media crisis communications is all about.