CAMPAIGNS: Crisis Management - Charities and govt team up for bereaved

Clients: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office; The Metropolitan Police;

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport; The Red Cross; Victim

Support; Cruse Bereavement.

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Helplines for UK victims of the World Trade Center terror


Timescale: 11 September - ongoing

Budget: Undisclosed; depends on duration

After the World Trade Center was destroyed on 11 September, it quickly

emerged that among the thousands of dead were a number of Britons. It

was thought initially that this number could be as high as 500, though

it is now thought likelier to be around 200.


To set up an emergency number and a bereavement helpline as quickly as

possible; to raise awareness of the numbers; to provide those affected

with support.

Strategy and Plan

On 11 September, the FCO, with the support of the Met, launched an

emergency number. Due to the wall-to-wall coverage of the tragedy,

raising awarness of this number was not problematic.

Ministers mentioned it in interviews, the media published it widely and

it was available at the FCO website. Initially the strategy was to

provide information. It is now moving towards drawing up a list of those

who died, though this may take months.

A meeting of voluntary organisations after the disaster suggested the

need for a helpline to provide support for the bereaved. The three

organisations with the most experience in this area - The Red Cross,

Cruse Bereavement and Victim Support - set this up with support from the

Government. It was launched on 20 September by culture secretary Tessa

Jowell with a series of national TV and radio interviews. This was

supported by a story on PA newswires and a PR push for the papers on 24


Regional press offices were used to push the second number out to the

regional press. The Home Office also underwrote a paid advertising

campaign in the press, which first appeared on 24 September.

Measurement and Evaluation

This was very much a crisis campaign driven by events and the emergency

number was largely self-publicising. By the middle of the week of the 24

September, it had received 27,000 calls.

The FCO has also been responding to media enquiries about the death


The work has been reactive, not proactive as it is a sensitive issue and

numbers remain uncertain.

For the bereavement helpline, the series of interviews by Jowell was

considered very successful. Initial interest from the papers was high,

but quickly waned.

'It was one thing getting support from the papers, another getting the

number published' says DCMS senior press officer Vicki Sheriff. This

tailing off partly explains the ad campaign.


The huge media and public response to the emergency number was to be


The bereavement line was quickly set up and initial awareness was


That said, short-term take up has been lower than expected. This could

be down to insufficient publicity, but it is far more likely that it is

because the number of UK victims was lower than initially expected.

There is also the possibility that the liaison officers assigned to

victims' families have been providing much of the necessary support.

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