Monday, February 1, 2010

Helping hands and thoughts on crisis response

President's Column: Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA
It was morning. Early Monday morning. A pre-coffee, pre-newspaper, very early Monday morning. The boss was on the phone. She had just been told to be in an 8 a.m. meeting, and she needed a presentation. A presentation I had to put together, and fast. I thought this was a crisis. The next day I learned what a crisis really is.

An earthquake is a crisis. Especially an earthquake that pummels an already reeling country, delivering a cruel sucker punch to hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Was this young boy’s mother or father alive? Any of his family members? What would these people eat or drink? Who would tend to their broken bones? Where would they live? One huge crisis after another. Minute by minute. Hour by hour.

As the situation unfolded before me on CNN, I was heartened that millions of us would do what we could to assist. I also was filled with pride that many local public relations and communications professionals are associated with organizations that assist in times of need — the American Red Cross, United Way, the Salvation Army, food banks, hospitals, emergency responders, women’s shelters, shelters for the homeless. What would we do without these groups and the public relations and communications professionals who help them fulfill their mission? 

Think, too, about the dedicated communications professionals who staff critical positions at local corporations and organizations, school districts and government entities. They handle the crisis message on a regular basis, to the benefit of us all. Think H1N1 or the swine flu, and recall the superb job done recently by the Fort Worth Independent School District and Tarrant County. And be thankful for the media people who partner at times with PR departments to inform, educate and protect our community. It’s a partnership that lets us know that no matter what happens, day or night, helping hands are near.

Helping hands. Comfort. Hope. These things, and so much more, are needed by the people of Haiti. For they are the ones who experienced the real crisis.
-- from the February 2010 eChaser newsletter

(Photo credit: JMaz Photo)