THE BIG QUESTION: As a PR practitioner, what do you regard as Jo Moore's greatest crime?

Ministerial adviser Jo Moore has been condemned in the media for

her 'heartlessness' in sending an e-mail on 11 September suggesting

colleagues bury bad news in the coverage of the US attacks. But did her

behaviour also betray a flawed PR strategy?

JIM BOYD, Consolidated Communications

'Her greatest crime was her lack of awareness of the nature of this

tragedy and how it would affect public opinion. It's not enough to

criticise Moore for allowing herself to become the story, because

spin-doctors will always be newsworthy - even Alastair Campbell has been

caught out. Nor is the fact that Moore was trying to take advantage to

downplay bad news so crucial, since that happens all the time. The

language of her e-mail was intemperate, and could not have misjudged the

mood of the country more - that was the true error for a good PR


MARK ADAMS, Foresight Communications

'She committed the greatest sin of any spin-doctor, to become the story,

rather than just playing a role in how it is told. It is a legitimate

role of media advisers to advise on the timing of announcements, as much

as on their content. All governments, irrespective of their political

colour, have timed unpopular announcements to make the least fuss.

However, it was both wrong in itself even to be considering such a

tactic as the terrible US tragedy unfolded, and wrong because she was

almost bound to be found out. In the PR world and elsewhere, too many

people treat e-mails as though they are spoken conversations, when they

should be treated like - because they can be reproduced - written



'The greatest crime was to commit some ill-judged thoughts to e-mail -

something we've probably all done in the past - although few pay the

penalty of such public vilification. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that

my first reaction, as an ex-hack, on learning of the terrorist attack

was to do a good job as a media professional and feed the media relevant

information, contacts and substance. This was a deeply unpopular

reaction in our office, but that's the way it is. Our job is to feed the

media's desire for stories, wherever they come from. I've seen loads of

proposals over the years that promise we'll stay in touch with the news

agenda and react to it on behalf of our clients. You can't do that just

when it's good news. To hear PR pundits and the media lay into Moore

smacks of hypocrisy, I'm afraid.'


'PROs have a responsibility to act with integrity. To seek advantage

from such a devastating assault was her worst offence. And in a world of

transparent communication, one should be conscious that every

communication is, or could be, accessible to all. If one feels that what

is being said or written would not be acceptable to all stakeholders,

then it shouldn't be considered. Moore appears to have made a decision

in isolation, thinking only of her paymaster, rather than considering

the climate in which she was operating and the other publics for which

she, and the Government, has responsibility. That said, there are any

number of companies who have used the tragedy to justify redundancies

and cost cutting. Moore isn't the only one who's been manipulating the


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