Justice for Natalie: Using social media to rally the public and gain media support. #Justicefornatalie

Every once in a while, you come across a story that is heartbreaking. What happened to Natalie Creane is tragic. Four years ago Natalie and her new fiance celebrated their engagement by staying at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. After arriving she opened the wardrobe door and bent to put her shoes in the wardrobe. She looked up as a wooden panel fell from the front of the AV unit and hit her on the head, right on the temporal lobe.

According to a number of sites set up on her behalf Natalie was diagnosed with intractable refractory epilepsy and brain trauma. Since then she has been in four comas, she suffers from seizures which cause her to collapse suddenly and she has frequently sustained serious injuries during these seizures, including broken bones. Natalie has been on ventilators, had blood clots in her lung and leg, extreme blood toxicity, paralysis, temporary loss of sight, massive hair loss, severe debilitating headaches, temporary loss of speech, confusion, permanent memory loss, insomnia, constant infections due to suppressed immunity and has been admitted over 20 times to intensive care. Natalie suffers from Post Traumatic Intractable Refractory Epilepsy and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Despite all that has happened to her Natalie’s case with the Emirates Palace Hotel is still outstanding. The Emirates Palace Hotel initially referred the family to its insurance company. After talks with the company broke down, the family was faced with the hotel’s lawyers. Forced to take their case to court, a full two years after the accident, the family is still fighting for justice now – four years on from Natalie’s accident.

After four years of what I can imagine to be a living nightmare, including two years of litigation, Natalie’s family have finally gone public. They set up a Facebook page on the 9th of July which you can see here, and the family also set up two twitter handles, @JusticeForNatal and @JusticeForNat.

As of today, the Facebook page has 6,114 likes. Even more importantly when it comes to measuring influence and importance on Facebook 4,078 users are currently talking about Natalie. Here’s a screenshot of her page below.

The Justice for Natalie Facebook Page has only been live a few weeks but has already gone viral in the UAE and beyond

Her family have made use of Twitter to get her story noticed by media through retweets and mentions, posting pictures both via Twitter and Pinterest, and using the hashtag #justicefornatalie (there was some initial confusion online around the 20th when the Twitter handle switched from @justicefornatal to @justicefornat).

Ten days after setting up the social media channels Natalie’s story broke in mainstream media with a news piece in the UAE’s largest English circulation newspaper Gulf News followed by news pieces online at Albawaba and in print with another English-language UAE newspaper, 7Days. Natalie’s story has since been covered by global news outlets such as the BBC and the Huffington Post.

(Natalie’s story was first covered here last year by the National, but owing to the UAE’s defamation and libel laws newspapers use initials rather than full names when covering an active case).

Natalie’s family have also set up an online petition via Care2 where they’re aiming to gather 2,000 signatures (the petition is here and they’ve set up Team Natalie Marathon in Abu Dhabi for November (you can sign up here).

There’s even videos on Youtube, including the below which was put together by a supporter of the campaign.

Natalie’s family have stressed that the campaign has one aim, namely to raise her case’s profile and find some settlement so that Natalie can receive the support that she so desperately needs.

Rather than being a negative, hate campaign against the hotel the family are using human interest messages and regular updates on Natalie’s condition to attract attention and build a community online. In the space of two and a half weeks Natalie’s case has gotten more attention than it has done over four years. Understandably, the family have tried to get this issue resolved in a way that will not prejudice a court settlement, but with Natalie’s condition not improving it’s understandable that they feel the best way to ensure that their daughter has the care she needs is now through public relations.

Natalie is currently in a public hospital in Dubai, Rashid Hospital, where she is receiving palliative care. As her family write on Natalie’s Facebook page, “she urgently needs to receive specialist neurological help but the family has spent all they have over the past four years as they fought to get the hotel to step up and admit its liability for an incident which has resulted in such appalling consequences for Natalie.”

I for one hope that the Emirates Palace Hotel and the Kempinski Hotels group which manages the property settle this as soon as possible. They’re harming their own reputation. And, most importantly, they are denying their own responsibility to provide care for an incident which could be said to be a result of their own negligence.

How online communities have rallied round Natalie’s family is remarkable. And it goes to show how effective social media today can be in highlighting a worthy cause. Let’s all hope that Natalie finally gets justice and receives the support she needs to recover from all that has happened to her.

11 thoughts on “Justice for Natalie: Using social media to rally the public and gain media support. #Justicefornatalie

  1. Alex, thanks for calling this to our attention. if the hotel is under management by Kempinski, the right place to squeeze for justice is head office. Follow the money trail.

  2. I’d like to thank you for your excellent, sensitive, factual and extremely well written article and huge appreciation for your support. Our family have been to hell and back and it helps to know we have some amazing people behind us. Thank you from Natalie too, who has been fighting this for four years. x

  3. The Vice President for Public Relations at Kempinski is Ms Maria Khun. Her email is maria.kuhn@kempinski.com should anyone want to email her but be warned, her standard response is she can’t discuss the case until after 9th August. Worth an email or two maybe?

  4. Thank you for this article. It is interesting how Emirates Palace and the Kempinski Group are using social media…..by deleting comments, by blocking people so they can’t make comments and by checking up on people on linked. My preference would be for them to focus on the issue at hand. Surely they can see the support,and issue, is not going away and surely they know the right thing to do?

  5. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Natalie and her husband Trevor a dozen or so times, including at their wedding – one that long-time close friends told me almost didn’t happen. It seems, they said, Natalie almost died and continued to be at risk of imminent death – hard to fathom when you meet such an amazingly beautiful and truly sweet woman. Nat and Trevor are genuinely wonderful people without any malice whatsoever. What Natalie has experienced and continues to go through day in and day out is simply unfathomable – and unconscionable. She is truly beautiful inside and out, and Trevor’s obvious love for her is evident day in and out. She must be given access to the specialists and medical care she needs – first and foremost. Abu Dhabi courts have TWICE found in Nat’s favor, yet Kempinski’s legal team continues to appeal the court’s finding.
    Kempinki’s legal team needs to be educated about the balance between jurisprudence and conscience. I’m sure it was not intentional but incompetence or sloppiness, and the hotel and/or its contractors are liable and must stop this nonsense now. Natalie not only deserves some peace in this matter, her very life depends on it, as doctors don’t think she can survive another major seizure after having been through five since being struck on the head by a panel at the Emirate Palace Hotel.

  6. It’s funny how many people know or know of Natalie. I know she’s been in Dubai a while, but I think it’s more than that. I worked with Nat a long time ago. Unfortunately the company had to make some cut backs. With Nat being the HRD she was the person that had to do it. You could see she hated it and wanted to save every single one of us from it. She spent hours with all of us, re-did our CVs in her own time and got some of us new jobs afterwards. She would have sat with everyone all night if she had to. My point is, she is a special lady. She always has time for people and always thinks of others. Which I think is why she has touched so many people and the word has spread. Natalie is beautiful. She always smiled and always had time for me. I remember she used to say, when I asked her if I could book in some time and if she had 5 minutes, that she had as much time as I needed. The world would be a much sadder place without someone like Natalie. The company needs to sort this out. It breaks my heart that they are leaving her with no help and no insurance and no specialist treatment. God help her please.

    • I have just read out your lovely comment to Natalie and it brought us all to tears. Natalie was wondering who you are. Thank you for your words – your support and the support of all the thousands of kind people out there is the lightness in an otherwise very dark place. Thank you. Xx

      • I’m just one of many people who’d like to try and do something to support you, Natalie and all the family through this. If you don’t mind, I’ll contact some former colleagues in Switzerland and see if I can get some media in Zurich and Geneva where Kempinski is based. It may help in terms of pressuring the hotel chain if there’s a reaction in their home market.

  7. A sensitive rendition of the facts. As one of Natalie’s any friends the other thing I can testify to is her exceptional spirit of giving, selflessness and caring for others.
    Talking (as one inevitably does) about the region in which we both live, Natalie has always been convinced that she would receive fair treatment in the justice system of the UAE. (and the justice system so far has been very fair, as have the court appointed doctors).
    Unfortunately the wheels of justice turn slowly, and all the time Natalie’s condition has been worsening. In a region where tumult reigns, the UAE is not only stable, with rulers who are beloved by their people, and appreciated by expats, it is also ranks among the best in the world for quality of life. At a time when rents were crazy, they were capped by the government, when friends of mine had a problem with employers, the labour department helped to resolve the issues. We are now highlighting how desperate her condition is in the hope of highlighting the seriousness of Natalie’s condition to Kempinski and the Emirates Palace.
    Please keep supporting Natalie and her amazing family as they fight for the first stage of a long process to make her better.

  8. Sadly they let her lay in that hospital with no regard for her life as machines breathed for her and doctors worried whether or not she would live. I don’t think they care what happens on this. Corporations don’t care about human life and Kempinski/Emirates Palace are no different.

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