BEHIND THE HEADLINES: PR firms support New York after atrocities

PR firms are rallying round to offer their services and support in

New York in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks last week.

In a warming sign of unity, the PR community in and around New York is

volunteering both professional and personal help to those in need.

Aside from the immediate priority of staff welfare and the internal

communications issues throughout the ordeal, consultancies large and

small are offering everything from manpower to office space in a bid to

help get the city back up and running.

Global PR giant Weber Shandwick Worldwide has volunteered 15 of its 100

New York staff to assist the New York City Red Cross media relations

department and is setting up office space for displaced clients and


It is currently working out how to house staff from the Cystic Fibrosis

Organisation, which had an operation based in the World Trade


WSW senior vice-president Mike Holtzman said: 'We're making available

our resources, physical staffing and advice. For clients we are offering

office space and pro bono distribution of advisers who can help with

crisis comms. I am more than likely going to be taking an emergency

assignment from the Government.'

An international team of crisis comms experts - including Hill &

Knowlton vice-chairman Andrew Lawrence - has also launched under the

name of Working Through to offer free advice to firms hit by the


The NYC Red Cross media relations department has had a tremendous

response to its calls for PR assistance and WSW is just one of a list of

consultancies offering support.

Among those providing help are Cohn & Wolfe, Ketchum, Citigate Dewe

Rogerson and Morgan-Walke Associates.

Most of the Red Cross's immediate PR needs involve staffing the media

relations office and fielding calls.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) posted a request for PR

help on its website but so far has not received a request. Executive

director Catherine Bolton said: 'Everybody wants to do something to help

and things are being done so well here that there's actually little

request for help.'

While crisis PR may be one element of the clean-up, there is no doubt

communications will be instrumental in the months ahead in helping get

the city back on its feet.

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