PRWEEK AWARDS: People & Agencies - The Business Wire Award - Communicator of the Year

WINNER - Rudolph Giuliani, Former mayor of New York

As TV viewers around the world were shocked by live pictures of the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center collapsing, it became clear that the city, and the world, was facing an unprecedented tragedy. One man emerged during that awful episode as the face and voice of the crisis - Rudolph Giuliani, the city's outgoing mayor.

Giuliani, whose term in office ironically was entering its final phase on 11 September (the day set for primary elections for candidates to replace him after serving his maximum term), faced arguably the darkest hour in US history as his last duty in the post. He took on the responsibility in a way that garnered worldwide admiration for his leadership, compassion, and dedication to the people and city of New York.

From his visits to, and broadcasts from, the site of 'ground zero', to his round-the-clock press conferences, Giuliani led the effort to respond to the demand for information and understanding of what had actually taken place on 11 September.

His words from the centre of tragedy helped reinvigorate New York's indomitable spirit when he issued the rallying cry: 'We're not only going to rebuild, we're going to come out stronger than we were before, and in addition to having wonderful people in the city... we also have the strongest business community anywhere in the world, and we're going to call on them'.

His words also reached British relatives of victims of the tragedy in a way that touched them.

During his eight years as mayor, his major initiatives in the running of the 'Big Apple' included a zero tolerance approach to crime and a clean-up campaign for Times Square, ridding the area of the sex trade - initiatives that earned him a mixed reputation. Although largely successful policies, critics blamed the mayor for 'Disney-fying' New York, and his style of government was described as incurably abrasive.

Notoriously, critics disliked his attack on what he described as the 'fake' homeless and vilified him for regularly taking the side of the police in high-profile incidents involving minorities.

This mixed reputation made him an unexpected hero for many who previously disapproved of 'Giuliani's New York'.

Many former critics of the Republican formed a new opinion of the man in the wake of 11 September, attributing the change of heart largely to his unique qualities of leadership and his brave efforts to communicate with, and reassure, a stricken community. This led one senator to remark at the time that if he could stand for mayor again, he would win a landslide victory.

It was announced a month after 11 September that he would be made an honourary knight by the Queen for his efforts on behalf of UK families who lost relatives in the World Trade Center attacks.

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