Danny Rogers: Lower Manhattan is ultimate comms test

You will have seen at least one TV documentary or newspaper article during the past week explaining 'how the world changed' ten years ago, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Danny Rogers: Lower Manhattan is ultimate comms test
Danny Rogers: Lower Manhattan is ultimate comms test

It is an anniversary that has global resonance, but for one group of politicians, marketing and comms people it has also been a very local affair.

While we were all affected by the events that day, it is worth remembering that some were affected much more so than others.

Herein lies the challenge for those tasked with regenerating the devastated Lower Manhattan area; a 'stakeholder comms programme' that puts most others to shame.

Obviously, the most important audience is the families who lost loved ones in the attacks. But other stakeholders include residents and businesses of the area surrounding the former Twin Towers, whose lives also needed to be rebuilt.

So the 'reinvention of Lower Manhattan' has been a project requiring huge investment, sound judgement and acute sensitivity. It is still too early to judge the success.

On Sunday, the bereaved families will attend a special commemoration.

The following day, the general public will be able to look around the new Memorial Plaza. The long-term hope of local politicians and tourism chiefs is that the whole Downtown area will receive a welcome economic boost from the redevelopment.

As I discovered when I visited the site recently - kindly shown around the hard-hat area by 9/11 Memorial staff - a team of professionals have been laser-focused on this weekend for many years.

This includes everyone from New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the comms staff of NYC & Company, to the construction workers who have trudged through mud in sub-zero temperatures to get the site ready.

It is a shame that the museum and Freedom Tower have not been completed for the tenth anniversary, but this is down to the aforementioned complexity and emotion inherent in such a project.

If you have ever felt pressure for a launch, imagine a campaign that commemorates thousands of untimely deaths, requires millions of dollars to be raised and whose creative solutions are under fierce international scrutiny.

Lower Manhattan is about to undergo an economic renaissance, of that I have no doubt.

But the acid test is whether those directly affected feel the solution pays long-term tribute to what was there before - and to those who were so tragically lost.

In depth feature here

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