Clients: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office; The Metropolitan Police;
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport; The Red Cross; Victim
Support; Cruse Bereavement.
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Helplines for UK victims of the World Trade Center terror
Timescale: 11 September - ongoing
Budget: Undisclosed; depends on duration
After the World Trade Center was destroyed on 11 September, it quickly
emerged that among the thousands of dead were a number of Britons. It
was thought initially that this number could be as high as 500, though
it is now thought likelier to be around 200.
To set up an emergency number and a bereavement helpline as quickly as
possible; to raise awareness of the numbers; to provide those affected
Strategy and Plan
On 11 September, the FCO, with the support of the Met, launched an
emergency number. Due to the wall-to-wall coverage of the tragedy,
raising awarness of this number was not problematic.
Ministers mentioned it in interviews, the media published it widely and
it was available at the FCO website. Initially the strategy was to
provide information. It is now moving towards drawing up a list of those
who died, though this may take months.
A meeting of voluntary organisations after the disaster suggested the
need for a helpline to provide support for the bereaved. The three
organisations with the most experience in this area - The Red Cross,
Cruse Bereavement and Victim Support - set this up with support from the
Government. It was launched on 20 September by culture secretary Tessa
Jowell with a series of national TV and radio interviews. This was
supported by a story on PA newswires and a PR push for the papers on 24
Regional press offices were used to push the second number out to the
regional press. The Home Office also underwrote a paid advertising
campaign in the press, which first appeared on 24 September.
Measurement and Evaluation
This was very much a crisis campaign driven by events and the emergency
number was largely self-publicising. By the middle of the week of the 24
September, it had received 27,000 calls.
The FCO has also been responding to media enquiries about the death
The work has been reactive, not proactive as it is a sensitive issue and
numbers remain uncertain.
For the bereavement helpline, the series of interviews by Jowell was
considered very successful. Initial interest from the papers was high,
but quickly waned.
'It was one thing getting support from the papers, another getting the
number published' says DCMS senior press officer Vicki Sheriff. This
tailing off partly explains the ad campaign.
The huge media and public response to the emergency number was to be
The bereavement line was quickly set up and initial awareness was
That said, short-term take up has been lower than expected. This could
be down to insufficient publicity, but it is far more likely that it is
because the number of UK victims was lower than initially expected.
There is also the possibility that the liaison officers assigned to
victims' families have been providing much of the necessary support.