EDITORIAL: It's good to talk in times of crises

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.

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