"'Stop being afraid' doesn't mean you can get rid of the emotion;
it means over-coming it. It's just going out and doing the things you
normally do." Those poignant words from New York City Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani at a recent memorial service held at Yankee Stadium epitomize
the city and the country's plea to return to normalcy following the
tragic events of September 11. Public relations practitioners - myself
included - have been forced to rethink their strategies behind major PR
initiatives. So what does this mean for an industry that has already
been reeling from a slumping economy?
In these extraordinary times, the key to any public campaign is finding
just the right balance between being sensitive to the news environment
and having appropriate content. It is equally important that we realize
the increased significance of our efforts given the challenging media
environment, as we have an even greater responsibility to our clients,
our corporations, and most importantly, to the general public.
At FAO Schwarz, finding the right balance has been no less of a
challenge, especially with the critical holiday shopping season just
around the corner. A press event to celebrate our company's 140th
holiday season and to unveil a new collection of high-end children's
fashion and lifestyle goods was no longer relevant. The strategy needed
to be rethought, and the messages accompanying it had to be redefined.
The announcement now reflects the broader scope of how people's lives
have been affected by the tragedy, with greater emphasis on celebrating
children and the spirit of play. In addition, the focus has shifted to
our company's vital role as a New York tourist destination. Other
product launches, including that of a widely anticipated new preschool
property, were not shelved, but rather tweaked, with an emphasis on
providing parents with a uniquely entertaining diversion for their
As a major retailer and a prominent New York institution, we have a
responsibility to help encourage families to return to a sense of
normalcy, and our public relations outreach will continue to support
those efforts. Our mission of bringing smiles to the faces of children
of all ages has never been more important.