It has been open season on shooting the messenger over at BT
recently - if the press can track him down. It is perhaps a symptom of
the increasing stature of corporate comms professionals and PR
spokespeople generally, that during BT's darkest hour some of the press
have turned their attention to BT comms head Robin Pauley and his
The Times City Diary, for example, recently ran a piece asking 'Where is
Robin Pauley?' claiming that 'he doesn't talk to us hacks.' Commenting
on the criticism, BT press officer Robin Dunnett told PRWeek that Pauley
'has a kennel of pedigree dogs and doesn't always bark himself'.
BT is certainly not the only organisation to quite reasonably delegate
media relations to its extensive media department, but at a time of
crisis this can backfire. It would, however, be extremely unfair to lay
too much blame at the door of the PR function. This is a debt not a
comms issue - and no matter how far corporate comms revels in having
moved up the corporate agenda, there is little the function could have
done to prevent a pounds 30bn debt.
It is also worth remembering that the City's perception is also not
synonymous with that of its customers, for whom BT remains a very strong
and successful brand.
The moral seems to be that at times of crisis, the most senior corporate
communications director in any organisation would be well-advised to be
seen to be engaging directly with the media.