COMMENT: EDITORIAL - PR must be tough and help US go on

There are children trying to understand that Mom or Dad will not be

coming home tonight - or any other night. America is coping with images

that belong in a horror movie, not in the news. This is a time that will

test the American people as they have never been tested before.



Both as a business and a collection of individuals, the PR industry has

already proved its desire to meet the toughest challenge it has ever

faced.



In part, that challenge is about supporting the bereaved, about being

there for people who need time to grieve. If there has been heartening

news this week, it's been the tales of coworkers and neighbors in New

York and Washington, DC looking after each other, even opening their

homes to each other - coworkers becoming friends in this time of

need.



But, without neglecting the sorrow or the grief, the PR industry also

has a huge role to play in reassuring investors and getting America back

to work. Fast, accurate information is essential at a time like this,

and the PR industry will be key in providing that information.



Of course, the crisis work has already started. Communications teams

working for the White House, the Secret Service, the airlines, the

medical units, the transport authorities, the fire department, the

police, the mayoral offices, and the corporations deserve our praise and

thanks.



So too do the cities' respective leaders, especially New York Mayor Rudy

Giuliani and police and fire department officials, whose bravery in

facing the world's media when they had lost so many close friends was

incredibly touching. Everyone who needed to come forward and speak did

so. Information and reassurance were needed. Information and reassurance

were forthcoming.



And the communication efforts will continue. The Council of Public

Relations Firms and PRSA have asked agencies to volunteer their services

and offered to coordinate these efforts. Naturally, every agency that

has spoken with PRWeek is desperate to help in any way they can. And, as

those caught up in the tragedy realize how they might make use of those

services, the agencies will almost certainly do some of the most

valuable work they have ever done.



The PR industry will be at the center of deciding when businesses return

to talking publicly about their own issues. When is a good time to issue

releases? What is too trivial for release? How do the corporations who

have lost people communicate the loss to the rest of the staff? How do

those same corporations ensure the confidence of investors, and the

release of earnings information?



At PRWeek, we are anxious that we do our jobs over the coming weeks by

keeping you informed of the efforts of the PR industry. Hopefully, we

can even help to put people who need assistance in touch with people who

can provide assistance.



None of us are ever going to forget the tragedy of September 11, 2001,

nor should we. Now we have to help America move forward.



The staff of PRWeek and the whole of Haymarket Publishing want to

express their deepest sympathy for anyone whose loved ones were killed

or injured in last Tuesday's tragedy. Our thoughts are with you.



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