There are children trying to understand that Mom or Dad will not be
coming home tonight - or any other night. America is coping with images
that belong in a horror movie, not in the news. This is a time that will
test the American people as they have never been tested before.
Both as a business and a collection of individuals, the PR industry has
already proved its desire to meet the toughest challenge it has ever
In part, that challenge is about supporting the bereaved, about being
there for people who need time to grieve. If there has been heartening
news this week, it's been the tales of coworkers and neighbors in New
York and Washington, DC looking after each other, even opening their
homes to each other - coworkers becoming friends in this time of
But, without neglecting the sorrow or the grief, the PR industry also
has a huge role to play in reassuring investors and getting America back
to work. Fast, accurate information is essential at a time like this,
and the PR industry will be key in providing that information.
Of course, the crisis work has already started. Communications teams
working for the White House, the Secret Service, the airlines, the
medical units, the transport authorities, the fire department, the
police, the mayoral offices, and the corporations deserve our praise and
So too do the cities' respective leaders, especially New York Mayor Rudy
Giuliani and police and fire department officials, whose bravery in
facing the world's media when they had lost so many close friends was
incredibly touching. Everyone who needed to come forward and speak did
so. Information and reassurance were needed. Information and reassurance
And the communication efforts will continue. The Council of Public
Relations Firms and PRSA have asked agencies to volunteer their services
and offered to coordinate these efforts. Naturally, every agency that
has spoken with PRWeek is desperate to help in any way they can. And, as
those caught up in the tragedy realize how they might make use of those
services, the agencies will almost certainly do some of the most
valuable work they have ever done.
The PR industry will be at the center of deciding when businesses return
to talking publicly about their own issues. When is a good time to issue
releases? What is too trivial for release? How do the corporations who
have lost people communicate the loss to the rest of the staff? How do
those same corporations ensure the confidence of investors, and the
release of earnings information?
At PRWeek, we are anxious that we do our jobs over the coming weeks by
keeping you informed of the efforts of the PR industry. Hopefully, we
can even help to put people who need assistance in touch with people who
can provide assistance.
None of us are ever going to forget the tragedy of September 11, 2001,
nor should we. Now we have to help America move forward.
The staff of PRWeek and the whole of Haymarket Publishing want to
express their deepest sympathy for anyone whose loved ones were killed
or injured in last Tuesday's tragedy. Our thoughts are with you.