Are you big enough to handle it?

No one in any large organisation should ever assume they will get their PR right. I was reminded of the need for a certain humility when I read that the Forrestry Commission is paying hunts in Wales to kill foxes while the Government of which it is an agency, wants to outlaw hunting with hounds. Large bureaucracies, as I learned over 30 years ago, are rather like a garden rake: they have a tendency to pop up and smack the PRO in the face simply because their size makes it virtually certain not everybody in them is singing from the same hymn sheet.

No one in any large organisation should ever assume they will get

their PR right. I was reminded of the need for a certain humility when I

read that the Forrestry Commission is paying hunts in Wales to kill

foxes while the Government of which it is an agency, wants to outlaw

hunting with hounds. Large bureaucracies, as I learned over 30 years

ago, are rather like a garden rake: they have a tendency to pop up and

smack the PRO in the face simply because their size makes it virtually

certain not everybody in them is singing from the same hymn sheet.



It is therefore all the more important for large organisations to handle

properly situations which are under their control. I fully acknowledge

that governments cannot stop nuclear submarines from going to the bottom

of the ocean or Prime Ministers’ sons from being rowdy in a hotel after

a night out at the disco. Accidents will happen and boys will be

boys.



These are hazards of the trade. But what are PROs for but to handle

their consequences?



In a curious way both the Kremlin and No 10 - or rather President Putin

and Mr Blair - have revealed just how far they have to go before they

reach first base in coping with disasters and the antics of teenage

sons.



Russia’s governance, it seems, has been little touched by a decade of

democracy. It gives the impression it remains a nation in which life is

held cheap, where relatives of members of the Armed Forces have few

rights and where privilege reigns. Mr Putin managed to convey all this

by simply lingering for too long on holiday on the Black sea after the

onset of the tragedy and then spurning for too long Western help for the

crew of the stricken Kursk.



For the good of Russia and its president, I hope that this autumn there

will be a serious review not only of the cause of the disaster but also

of the widespread damage done by the insensitive handling of it. For the

good of Mr Blair, I hope he starts to grow up as a parent/ PM and sort

out once and for all his response to embarrassments caused by his

teenage children, which are only just beginning.



After the ridiculous fuss over entirely reasonable pictures at baby

Leo’s christening and the subsequent off/on family holiday photocall, it

doesn’t take a genius to see that the Prime Minister is paranoic about

any publicity for his children and has made his press office as jumpy as

a flea about any story that arises. So they lept into a dismissive

denial of Euan Blair’s behaviour and dark mutterings about another

reference to the Press Council before knowing the facts. The result: an

embarrassed admission that the poor lad had in fact at the very least

been asked to be quiet. We can’t go on like this. It is doing nobody any

good - least of all Euan



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