PR has its Red Adairs who put out fires before they ever start

Anyone who, like me, grew up in the 1970s knew about a heroic figure called Red Adair who specialized in putting out big fires created by oil and gas blowouts.

Anyone who, like me, grew up in the 1970s knew about a heroic figure called Red Adair who specialized in putting out big fires created by oil and gas blowouts. Houston-born Red was a globally recognized figure and the term "send for Red Adair" became synonymous with any crisis, no matter what it was.

One wonders how Red would have approached the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. I'm pretty sure he would have done a better job than BP CEO Tony Hayward and his acolytes.

Red was the ultimate crisis guy, but he has his counterparts in business and politics - people who put out fires of a slightly less dangerous kind, though no less important in terms of money and influence.

But our feature on crisis highlights a lot of less glamorous measures that can mitigate crises and make sure the repercussions don't escalate into out-of-control roaring flames - real or metaphorical.

We asked the experts for their advice and dis- tilled it into 10 handy tips for any in-house or agency PR pro responsible for crisis communications, although the lessons are relevant to everyone in comms. It's a great read and a genuinely useful guide.

For some PR pros, these challenges are what bring them into the business. Our Newsmaker, GM's Selim Bingol, is one such person. He took on the task of turning around the beleaguered automaker's communications at a time when government bailouts and consumer backlash were still top of mind.

For Bingol, "it's a challenge, but it's also exciting." You can almost hear the dear-departed Red Adair saying exactly the same thing back in the day.

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