Survey shows execs lack interest in crisis planning

WASHINGTON: The 2002 State of Corporate Public Affairs Survey suggests that CEOs have grasped the importance of getting politically involved after September 11, though many are still unconvinced of the need for maintaining a crisis-communications management team.

WASHINGTON: The 2002 State of Corporate Public Affairs Survey suggests that CEOs have grasped the importance of getting politically involved after September 11, though many are still unconvinced of the need for maintaining a crisis-communications management team.

Ninety-eight percent of the CEOs from the 115 companies surveyed - most of which are listed in the Fortune 1000 - had participated in some form of political action during this past election cycle. Those activities ranged from simply corresponding with members of Congress by mail to holding fundraisers for candidates.

But nearly 25% of those companies have still not compiled a team to handle communications in case of a crisis. The statistic came as a surprise to executives at the Foundation for Public Affairs, the group that conducts the survey every three years. Executive director Brian Hawkinson said he had expected the number to be higher in the wake of September 11.

In general, however, Hawkinson said the results suggested that the corporate public-affairs community was "doing more with less."

"Demands on public-affairs professionals to deliver measurable results have never been greater, and by and large they're doing a terrific job of that," he said. "Budgets are roughly flat; staffing is roughly flat.

But corporate public-affairs people continue to deliver on their role in contributing to the success of their company."

Indeed, the median corporate public-affairs budget lies somewhere between $2 million and $3.5 million, roughly where it was in 1999, when the survey was last taken. Staff numbers also appeared to remain constant.

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