John Guilfoil Public Relations

Urban Shield Boston

Kevin Wiles Photography

Kevin Wiles Photography

Around the nation, first responders are training to respond to disaster and terrorism. One of the most high-profile training operations you’ll see is Urban Shield.

In Metropolitan Boston, Urban Shield means bringing 1,800 police officers, firefighters, medics, and even Coast Guardsmen together, along with transit authorities, hospitals, Boston Harbor, an abandoned movie theater, a college campus, and even a retired Navy heavy cruiser.

Long before the training begins, the outreach starts. We combined direct community outreach, electronic message boards, and leafleting with media outreach, a press release, and social media efforts.

An operation as expansive as Urban Shield requires a coordinated effort. The message has to be the same, whether it’s coming from Boston, Cambridge, or Brookline.

The Police make their trailer:

The City produces something a little more family-friendly:

When the proactive outreach is complete, we were ready to promote the efforts of the first responders. When you run a complete press campaign, the same reporters you talk to for public outreach are often there when the action starts as well.

We brought in traditional media, but when you know that there’s a freelance photographer who’s active on Twitter and chases down fires and police incidents, you invite him, and he takes great photos that get picked up by news wires.

Urban Shield 2012 used a variety of backdrops, including a retired Brookline movie theater, and the USS Salem museum ship in Quincy. We made sure the local press knew this.

We handled publicity for Urban Shield correctly, and The Atlantic Cities cited Urban Shield when the magazine called Boston “One of the Best Prepared U.S. Cities to Handle a Crisis.”