Letters - If you don't know, don't just guess

I was interested to read Stephen Archer's contention that 'speed is more important than accuracy' (News, 23 November) because the balance between the two is something I am sure all of us wrestle with when it comes to crisis PR.

As ever, it is not as simple as it sounds - it is like trying to decide whether the engine is more important than the wheels in a car.

Good crisis management should of course be both speedy and accurate, but when push comes to shove there is a middle way - the holding statement.

'I don't know' as a response should be part of the armoury for all practitioners dealing with a crisis, as long as it is swiftly followed by 'but I will go and find out and come back to you as soon as I can'.

The holding statement is the public version of that, and we would advise our clients go with that ahead of giving an answer, any answer, just to satisfy the needs of the journalist.

Operating predominantly in the public sector as we do, we would not last long if clients were inaccurately reported.

The holding statement might not be sexy, but we would take it over the speedy but inaccurate response every time.

Karen Harris, chief executive, Geronimo Communications.

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