THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Can you insure against PR disasters?

NHS trusts are being offered a crisis management service as part of their insurance policy

NHS trusts are being offered a crisis management service as part of

their insurance policy

Nigel Duncan

British Medical Association

’This sounds like a clever ruse to sell NHS trusts peace of mind,

whereas what they may find themselves buying is a dangerously false

sense of security. Their money (ie our money) would be far better spent

on establishing good PR strategies rather than preparing to firefight PR

disasters. One can never insure against PR disasters, but one can try to

prevent them happening in the first place.’

Mike Seymour

Burson-Marsteller Europe

’We would advise any organisation as big and as complicated as a

hospital trust to be fully prepared to deal with high profile


With the multi-disciplinary nature of hospitals, both internal and

external communications planning is very important. There is a view in

the city that organisations with good crisis management plans could

represent a better risk. The realisation of that is driving more and

more companies to prepare contingency plans.’

Dominic Fry


’No you can’t. What you can do is, firstly, conduct a detailed and

comprehensive audit of all areas that are at risk. And, secondly, have

active and all encompassing contingency plans in place that involve all

aspects of the business. If you have to have outside help you should get

it from somebody you’ve worked with for a while and who knows you.’

Nick Miles

Financial Dynamics

’The key thing in any crisis is to make sure that the people who run the

day-to-day operation or business - whether it is a hospital or a

multinational company - remain doing what they do best. You’d rather not

have your surgeon running off to take calls about the previous


Will Whitehorn

Virgin Group

’NHS trusts don’t have particularly strong public relations teams

in-house, so if they have a real crisis it seems like an interesting


However, it wouldn’t work in the corporate world. If it was for a quoted

company it wouldn’t be so easy because it has a responsibility towards

its shareholders, but I think commercial operations like airlines are

already well geared up for crises and emergencies.’

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