How Marriott communicators responded to Islamabad bombing

Fast response, regular updates and an established crisis plan were key.

Fast response, regular updates and an established crisis plan were key

Roger Conner was passing by his family room television on the way out the door to the dry cleaner and the car wash when something on MSNBC’s news ticker caught his attention.

“It was the first alert that hit the airwaves here, about a bombing in Pakistan at the Marriott. Eight people dead,” he recalls.

The vice president of communications for Marriott International, Conner scrapped his plans for “all those errands people run on Saturday mornings” and immediately called Kathleen Matthews, the company’s executive vice president of global corporate affairs.

After he gave her the news, she called Bill Marriott—“there actually is a guy whose name is on the door, who runs our company,” Conner says—and put a crisis plan into action.

Communicators camp out at HQ for the weekend

By the time the suicide bomber smashed his explosive-packed truck into the main entrance of the Islamabad Marriott Sept. 20—killing at least 40 people, severely injuring hundreds more and setting off a natural gas leak that eventually ignited and destroyed the entire hotel—the crisis team was used to spending weekends at the office.

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