When the situation at the border started a week ago the immediate action seemed to be that of a headless chicken. Everyone took to the internet and utilised social media, particularly Facebook to get their personal message across.
Driven with passion these messages and comments were contradictory and often outlandish. People were insulting each other and there was an obvious reluctance to listen to other opinions.
In the absence of facts people will form their own opinions, and sadly the facts seem to be missing. Where was the media leadership and management? Where was the crisis media plan to implement in the event of such an occurrence, particularly as this could have been predicted? The Gibraltar media was providing information for the domestic market but all that the international media was getting was from Spain ~ or that is certainly the way it seems.
Fortunately Gibraltar has friends working in the media and PR in the UK and as a result of the social media activity these individuals were driven to use their own contacts to generate interest. This was done most successfully with the BBC by Helen Wade. Updates were also put out to all UK and some international news desks and key syndication agencies. This activity may have overlapped with work being done by the Government press office but there seemed to be no evidence of this. So far only one news release is being shown on the GoG website but there may have been others and verbal contact, although this isn’t evident.
By the very nature of Gibraltar’s predicament, the Government must implement an ongoing, planned and sustained PR plan with sufficient flexibility to enable any reaction to any crisis or issues management scenario.
Without a brief it isn’t possible to recommend a full PR campaign but I have made a number of observations:
· PR is not a ‘one off’. There should be a PR programme which aims to promote the name of Gibraltar worldwide and manage its reputation. Much of this might already be in the realm of the GoG Press Office. Regular media contact on all issues, business, tourism, finance, sport should be constantly offered to the media (The New York Times carried a substantial piece on Gibraltar’s EUFA membership).
· The media should be monitored for upcoming features. For example:
Global Assets Journal Sep 2013 Finance Centres : Gibraltar and Bermuda
The Lawyer Oct 2013 Gibraltar
Seatrade Cruise Review Dec 2013 Regional Reports: Mediterranean incl. Black Sea, Adriatic, French Med, Malta, Italy, Spain, Gibraltar
Tanker Operator 06 Dec 2. Gibraltar Report
Is material being provided to these publications?
These are just a few observations which I hope might be helpful. I might be completely wrong and there was media leadership at the Border. Sadly it did not come across and the disparate internet activity was beginning to put the cause in danger.
A UK citizen
(name and address provided)