9/11's PR Hero

      6 Comments on 9/11's PR Hero

On this 10th anniversary of the most infamous day of our lives, the thousands of victims and heroes are remembered with a mix of sadness, patriotism and thanks.

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?

6 thoughts on “9/11's PR Hero

  1. Melissa

    This was discussed in a political science class I took last semester, but instead of Mayor Giuliani, we talked about presidential ratings increasing during times of destruction, just how President Bush’s ratings increased during 9/11. During this discussion I didn’t stop to think whether this was good PR or not, but I did think about how people like to have something to look up to when scared or sad. But I am curious to know what people would say if next time they rolled their eyes at the sound of George W. Bush’s name, which occurs every time, if I asked them if they think PR had anything to do with him being reelected for a second term. If people believe it is, then any future candidate should be looking to hire GWB’s PR rep.

  2. Kaitlin Simensky

    In the moments after a traumatic event like 9/11 many of us, myself included, became almost numb. The shock was indescribable and will forever change history. But during those periods of shock many of us became lost in terms of understanding. We believed what we heard because it was all that we knew. Rudy Guiliani was a hero; not because of his actions but because of his leadership. This was a fact that went unquestioned in my mind for several months. It was only after the shock of what had happened began to disappear that I began to rethink my views about what had happened. Guiliani wasn’t a hero; the firefighters, policemen, EMS workers, rescue crews, first responders, etc. were the heroes. He was not a bad man, and in the situation perhaps he was even the right man for the job. But the way in which so many people viewed him, and some continue to view him, seems less than accurate.

  3. samwilbur

    I think Giuliani did a good job–not great, following the attacks. Yet, I take issue with the fact that him (and his PR department) used 9/11 for political gain it seemed–especially when running for office.

    I think his biggest blunder however was when he suggested that no major terrorist attacks occurred while Bush was in office.

  4. Stephen Karaolis

    People often times look for a place to turn in time of need, he was the voice of reason, he was the face of the city and his words gave people hope. His patriotism and bravery with his words inspired people to believe in him.

  5. AOkPR

    If we look to our leaders for a calm, steady hand when we are as fearful as we all were after 9/11, then a leader who was a calm, steady hand deserves to be called a hero. No, Giuliani did not run into the burning towers. No, he did not tend to victim’s wounds. No, he did not make decisions about reprisals or how Americans were to fight the war on terrorism. He didn’t do these things because it is not the job of a mayor to do them. Rather, it is a firefighter’s duty is to run into burning buildings. It is an EMT’s duty to tend to the victim’s wounds. It is the President’s duty, and the duty of higher government officials, to make decisions about reprisals and to decide how Americans were to fight the war on terror. If these people are going to be called heroes for doing what is outlined in their job description (and maybe a little beyond that), then Giuliani should be called a hero too.


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