James H. Cole Home for Funerals: Crisis Communications



As it became clear in March of 2020 that COVID-19 was shaping up to be a nationwide public health crisis, the James H. Cole Home for Funerals identified the need for a robust communications strategy to keep employees, families and the general public informed of necessary safety precautions while demonstrating the professional expertise and integrity of the 100-year-old Detroit-based funeral home. The pandemic presented an opportunity for the James H. Cole Legacy Foundation to giveback to the community by supporting frontline workers and families disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The plan included extensive and regular internal communications, ongoing communication with families through virtual and in-person channels, and regular media interviews to reassure the general public. Community support activities were communicated via press coverage and social media.


50 TV, radio and online interviews were conducted which resulted in 1,520 story mentions, netting $32 million in advertising value. 420 meals, 500 backpacks, $500 in food gift cards and 60 teddy bears were provided to local firefighters, police officers, hospital staff and students adversely affected by the pandemic.