OPINION: The view from across the Atlantic

Media tours and PR-related activities have been placed on hold across the US, as American and British troops attack Iraq.

Many agencies are disseminating blueprints for clients on how to handle media relations during the war, and speak of a general shift towards working on longer-term projects.

According to US PROs, major news outlets now have little space for anything beyond war news, forcing a rethink of planned PR activity.

While some agencies are advising clients to postpone press tours, continuing with planned campaigns has proved appropriate for others - the author of a book on sleeping problems secured media attention as his book could be tied to people's war-related anxiety.

But for most, long lead-time publications have become the focus. General Motors communications vice-president Steve Harris said the group is working with long lead time magazines to launch the new model Cadillac. Yet even he stressed that should world events change, 'we wouldn't hesitate to move our schedules'.

Axiom Communications president Ron Simoncini has advised his New York hotel clients to talk about how their bookings for summer are up compared to last year, giving consumers something to focus on for the future.

'There's really not much you can do about the days and weeks surrounding the conflict,' he said. 'You have to look beyond that.'

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