Cutty Sark Enterprises non-exec communications director Stephen Archer was speaking at PRWeek’s ‘Taking the Drama Out of a Crisis’ conference on Tuesday.
He said that getting journalists to write a 90 per cent accurate story based on information provided was better than not getting your message out at all.
‘There is no such thing as an information void,’ he said. ‘You have to weigh up the cost to your organisation if you let someone else provide the information instead.’
Archer was plunged into a crisis situation six months ago when a fire threatened to destroy the Cutty Sark ship.
He told delegates he had planned to send out a media release about the restoration of the ship at 4.30pm on the day of the conference. But Sky News had called him at midday. ‘I know that one digit in the figure I gave them was incorrect, but I wasn’t going to tell them to wait until 4.30pm,’ said Archer.
However, Westminster City Council head of corporate communications Alex Aiken disagreed. He said giving correct information was paramount in a public sector body. ‘We often work with the police on matters of public safety, so our advice has to be spot on,’ he said.