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October 29, 2014
Performance Breeds Publicity, the Red Cross Is Reminded
 

PR stands, importantly, for performance reviews – public relations practitioners should never forget that. Reality is in interactions, and that’s how it’s perceived by most people. The American Red Cross likely is reflecting on such matters in light of reporting by National Public Radio and ProPublica on its disaster response to superstorm Sandy two years ago. The reports are based on “multiple internal documents” and “interviews with top Red Cross officials” and they’re saddening. 

‘“We didn’t have the kind of sophistication needed for this size job,’ concluded one senior Red Cross official, describing the agency’s logistics operations in notes from an after-action report five weeks after the storm. Added another official: ‘Multiple systems failed.’”

One assertion, “by a former Red Cross official managing the Sandy effort,”  is that “40 percent of available trucks were signed to serve as backdrops for news conferences” while the waste of food was “excessive” and the distribution of relief “politically driven instead of [Red Cross] planned.”

We weren’t there, but those who were, including officials of the Red Cross itself, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and anyone else in disaster response should be reflecting on this adverse publicity for the venerable Red Cross. It’s not good PR, no way. Right-minded, well-directed performance matters – anything less can be disastrous.


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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