NEWS: Rational thinking is the first step to solving most PR crises

What links Britain’s procedural war with Europe over beef and the new Lord Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Bingham? Answer: crisis PR. Both are examples of the dire straits which PR companies are so often asked to sort out. So let’s sort them out, if only in our own minds.

What links Britain’s procedural war with Europe over beef and the new

Lord Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Bingham? Answer: crisis PR. Both are

examples of the dire straits which PR companies are so often asked to

sort out. So let’s sort them out, if only in our own minds.



Mr Major’s obstructive campaign in Europe - until, I trust, British beef

exports to the world are unblocked - has long been breeding. It is the

bitter fruit of our exasperation with Europe whether over the federalist

juggernaut, interference from Euro-courts or Brussels’ bureaucrats or

fish.



Most Britons are fed up to the gills with Europe. They feel they have

been misled over what they joined in 1973. So now John Major,

complaining of bad faith over beef, has blown up. Interestingly that

great Euro-handbagger, Margaret Thatcher, never quite detonated.



It is all very well for superior Europhiles to tut tut about it. But an

eventual Euro-explosion was inevitable. Worse still, the big bang has

come over a health issue where rationality is at a premium.



There is no proven link between BSE and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in

humans. The incidence of mad cow disease is plummeting and there is no

evidence that CJD’s is rising. Indeed, the chances of contracting CJD -

or, for that matter, meningitis in Majorca, the week’s other health

crisis - are much less than being killed or maimed in a road accident.

Yet Europe has banned the export of British beef to the world and the

Majorcan authorities are under siege.



Even though we are living longer than ever, public health is a PR

disaster area, thanks to a sensationalist media, an overwhelming

ignorance of risk and an implied view that by now science should have

eliminated any possibility of death from disease below the age of 90.



I can think of no more urgent PR task in a western world paranoid about

health and food than to educate the public about relative risks. Our

present irrationality is a fiendishly expensive state to be in. So is

the current stand-off between Government and judiciary.



The new Lord Chief Justice knows that, as with Europe, public

dissatisfaction with the judiciary has long been fomenting. It stems

partly from a minority of lenient sentences which persuade people that

the Bench is hopelessly out of touch and partly from an incredibly

liberal criminal justice system.



Ergo, Sir Thomas faces a PR crisis just as surely Europe does. Neither

will be cooled until a certain rationality prevails. Which raises the

question as to why PROs don’t redefine themselves as ‘bringers of

rationality’? What a noble thought.



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