Pitches shelved as clients cope with US catastrophe

The PR industry is battling to get back on track following a week

of turmoil in the wake of the devastating attacks in the US.

Dozens of pitches and client meetings have been postponed in the

aftermath of the disaster, which destroyed the twin towers of The World

Trade Center in New York.

PR agency Ketchum - which boasts a large American contingent among its

board of directors - is one of the firms affected.

Ketchum marketing and new business director Anna Burns confirmed one US

firm had put its search for an agency back a week as chaos reigned and

added that Ketchum bosses declined an offer from one potential client to

postpone a pitch meeting.

Weber Shandwick Worldwide joint UK CEO David Brain also confirmed one

major travel client had already alerted the agency that it would be

reviewing budgets due to the financial impact of the disaster.

He added that many expected decisions on major accounts and client

meetings had been postponed, in part due to the travel upheaval that


Another senior industry figure said credential meetings - scheduled by a

UK insurance company - had also been cancelled.

The situation was compounded by precautions imposed by a number of

client companies.

A Procter & Gamble spokesman confirmed the FMCG giant had imposed a

week-long ban on staff travelling by air after the tragedy.

PRCA chairman Dr Tom Watson said: 'It is not surprising that clients may

choose to focus their attention elsewhere as they struggle to come to

terms with the implications of this disaster.'

But Brain sounded a more positive note for the industry amid fears of

global recession.

'Obviously firms affected, such as the airlines, need crisis and issues

help, but for clients not directly involved in the tragedy, PR firms are

well placed to advise on and interpret what this means for their

businesses in the long-term.'

News Analysis, p12.

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