Crisis conference: Forget work/life balance in a crisis, PROs warned

PROs should ‘forget work/life balance’ and expect four hours sleep a night during a major crisis, delegates were told.

Jane Moyo, Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) lead press officer for the Asian tsunami, said: 'I was living on four hours' sleep for six weeks. In a crisis, work becomes your life.'

She added: 'At times our strategy just had to be "answer the phone". Usually PR departments get junior people to field calls, but I put senior people on the phones.'

Moyo deployed one PRO – an ex-regional journalist – to bag coverage in regional press, and another – multilingual in Asian tongues – to target ethnic minority publications.

The umbrella body's PROs needed to co-ordinate media work with that of individual agencies. But Moyo flagged up one frustrating moment: 'One [DEC member] agency released a report and did not tell us. We were being asked about the report by the media, and we didn't know anything. We got an abject apology from the agency.'

Moyo also advised charity PROs to 'get into the habit of arranging TV interviews late at night – then the TV company should pay for a taxi home'.

With DEC's profile now higher than ever, she said: 'The organisation is a construct of the aid agencies – I don't think they would like it to become too much of a brand in its own right.'

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