Opinion: From our Readers - Rolls-Royce needs to be more media-savvy

Rolls-Royce has had some harsh criticism following the engine fire on a Qantas Airbus A380 on 4 November - not for its engineering, but for the way it handled the PR.

There are those who say the company should have been more forthcoming with statements and providing spokesmen, while others say the firm acted correctly.

In retrospect, it is easy to make comments but there are two major events in fairly recent aviation history that show how it should and should not be done.

When a Boeing 737 came down at Kegworth on 8 January 1989, Michael Bishop, the then MD of British Midland, was straight on the scene and ready to face the media. Just a few weeks earlier, Pan Am 101 had crashed on Lockerbie and the Pan Am senior executives literally locked themselves away in their headquarters.

It does seem Rolls-Royce, rather like Pan Am, has preferred to say very little. Its argument was the facts were not to hand.

Better to say nothing than utter something that might prove meaningless as details emerged. On balance, Rolls-Royce was wrong.

It is true that outgoing chief executive Sir John Rose is not as media-savvy as his predecessor, Sir Ralph Robins, but with 25 years' experience he should have been wellequipped to have dealt with a press conference.

Rolls-Royce needs to tread very carefully over the next few weeks.

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