British Airways chairman Sir Colin Marshall has admitted that
serious public relations errors were made during the recent conflict
with the striking cabin crew staff.
In his keynote speech at the 1997 PR Week Hard Commercial Edge of PR
Conference, Marshall said that, as a result of the company’s handling of
the strike, some of BA’s arguments had been taken out of context.
’Some mistakes were made on the company side in the way things were
conveyed and put together,’ admitted Marshall, who was appointed last
week as chairman of engineering group Siebe. He is also chairman of
Inchcape and deputy chairman of British Telecom.
BA’s apparent lack of consultation over the proposed pounds 42 million
cost cutting exercise has drawn severe criticism from the press,
severely denting the reputation of ’the world’s favourite airline’.
But in his opening speech at the two-day conference, Marshall called for
corporate communications to become a core component of leadership and
flagged up the importance of integrating internal and external
’If leadership and management means anything at all, it is
Communications must begin at the very top in the board room. It is the
very enterprise of endeavour. The key to the airline’s (BA’s) evident
success so far is communication as it translates into leadership,’ he
Marshall also predicted the death of ’off-the peg’ communications
strategies, and the increasing adoption of one-to-one relationship
marketing strategies by public relations professionals.
’We have entered the era of bespoke marketing’ claimed Marshall.