Opinion: Leader - Honesty is critical in these fearful times

This past week will be fixed in the memory for a very long time.

As our previous magazine was going to press on 6 July, we were finalising the judging of the PRWeek Awards - a hugely rewarding day for all involved - and toasting the success of the communications team behind London 2012.

But, as all those in the media looked forward to a day of analysing PR triumph on an international stage, we were suddenly watching another story develop.

For those who work in London the rumours and piecemeal stories circulating early on Thursday morning were accompanied by growing fear and nausea.

We turned to every medium for information. First the mobile phone to check on friends and family, but these soon failed. Then the TV, but even by late morning there was little real information. Then to the internet - and more specifically to the blogs and sent-in mobile phone footage - where we could see the horrifying events gaining clarity.

Thoughts shot back to 9/11, but this time the story was taking place underground far from the TV cameras. Facts were frustratingly scarce until a highly professional press conference was screened live at 3pm.

Was this because the information was being disseminated badly from those at the sharp end? Or because it was being deliberately withheld? The answers will emerge only with time. As ITN correspondent Chris Choi quite rightly tells PRWeek, the first priority for the emergency services is to save lives.

From the politicians we had a well-rehearsed message of defiance: some from the head, some - thankfully - from the heart. The strategy was clearly to unite the country and avoid panic. But having heard so many viewpoints in the aftermath of the tragedy, one can't help thinking that the politicians and authorities could still improve their crisis response.

They must fine-tune their dissemination of facts and, above all, be careful to treat the general public with unfailing humility and honesty.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.