Red Cross reorganization results in comms cutback

WASHINGTON, DC: The national headquarters of the American Red Cross plans to lay off about 30 employees from its communications and marketing department as part of an internal reorganization. The cutback is part of a larger downsizing, which is expected to impact about 100 of the 2,400 employees based in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC: The national headquarters of the American Red Cross plans to lay off about 30 employees from its communications and marketing department as part of an internal reorganization. The cutback is part of a larger downsizing, which is expected to impact about 100 of the 2,400 employees based in Washington, DC.

According to spokesman Darren Irby, the bulk of those to be discharged from the department work on internal products, such as training videos and brochures. The remaining cuts involve support staff.

"We are about to start a new fiscal year with new leadership that asked for a top-to-bottom reorganization,

he said. As a result, he added, "there will now be an internal communications group and an external communications group. It just made good business sense.

"The changes are the result of a communications audit and other audits to determine the strategic, human, and material needs for the organization in coming years,

stated Irby. In addition to layoffs, a hiring freeze has been put in place, some open positions will be eliminated and an organizational restructuring has been ordered by Harold Decker, interim CEO.

Despite the downsizing, the media relations operation is expected to grow, said Irby. The current staff of four is expected to increase to six following the reorganization. In addition to media relations, the department works on research, brand promotion, entertainment outreach, advertising, and field communications with local chapters. It also has a large internal communications component.

While some chapters are doing well, according to one press report, some that are not have blamed their problems on the recession, the shift of donations to the Liberty Fund designed to help the survivors and families of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and negative publicity the Red Cross received when it said Liberty Fund donations would be used for other purposes - a decision that was reversed as a result of the subsequent public outcry.

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