I find it interesting that among the individuals often seen as a hero is former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. On September 10, 2001, Giuliani was a lame duck politician with mediocre approval ratings. As events unfolded the next day he, in effect, became the central political figure of 9/11. Since then he has been praised for his leadership, elevated to being called “America’s Mayor,” and often hailed as a hero.
Yet Mr. Giuliani didn’t run into the burning towers to save anyone’s life. He wasn’t part of the search and rescue team after the buildings fell. He didn’t tend to victim’s wounds. He didn’t bring food to the cops and the firemen and the clean-up crews who remained at Ground Zero. He made no decisions about reprisals or how Americans were going to fight the war on terrorism. So why his elevated status?
If public relations is the art of communicating clear messages, then Giuliani did just that. In the hours and days after the attacks, the mayor was the steady voice of reason in front of the camera, in the newspapers and on radio. Even more than the president, he communicated the right messages when we needed it most. He eased people’s shock through repeated reassurance that “we’ll get through this.” And when people are upset and fearful as we all were after 9/11, we look to our leaders for a calm, steady hand. Mayor Giuliani provided this. He was no hero. But when we needed a strong, rational voice, his was it. That’s really good–and important–PR. Your thoughts?