B-M sets up a global unit to tackle millennium bug

Burson-Marsteller has set up a new global practice dedicated to communicating issues surrounding the year 2000 (Y2K) and the millennium bug.

Burson-Marsteller has set up a new global practice dedicated to

communicating issues surrounding the year 2000 (Y2K) and the millennium

bug.



The practice launched this week and includes 24 ’communications command

centres’ around the world, which will be manned around-the-clock during

the transition to the new millennium.



The global Y2K unit spans ten offices in Europe as well as eight offices

in North and South America and six Asian offices. In total, at least 140

of B-M’s existing corporate and crisis PR staff will be pooled into the

unit.



In Europe, the Y2K practice is being led from London jointly by B-M

corporate MD for Europe, Per Heggenes, and corporate practice director

Gerry Griffin.



Consultants will manage any crises as they emerge over the millennium

weekend.



As the end of the year approaches, B-M will help its existing clients

communicate their plans to cope with the millennium bug to the media,

consumers and staff. The agency is especially focusing on small and

medium-sized companies, which are less prepared for the millennium, and

on consumer perceptions of the problems posed by Y2K.



B-M worldwide CEO Chris Komisarjevsky said: ’Y2K has the potential to be

a major disruption for companies, even if not a single computer

malfunctions.



That’s because the millennium bug is no longer just a problem of

technology, but one of business management.



’The stage is already set for irrational consumer behaviour. A growing

number of consumers now say they expect to store food, water and cash

regardless of what happens on 1 January,’ he added.



Leader, p11.



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