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Sun 3 Jul 2005 04:00 AM

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PR during power cut ‘full of blunders’

A communications expert has slated the handling of last month’s power failure in Dubai as a lesson in how not to do crisis PR.

A communications expert has slated the handling of last month’s power failure in Dubai as a lesson in how not to do crisis PR.

The comments came from Lowell Frazier, professor of the College of Communication and Media Sciences at Zayed University in Dubai, in a seminar organised by the Middle East PR Association.

During the session, which focused on the best ways for PR people to help clients during a crisis, he was asked how many marks out of ten he would give to DEWA, the Dubai Electric and Water Authority, for the way its communications were handled during the situation.

He replied: “I would give them zero, or even a minus score. What little information there was does not appear to have been correct — the whole thing bothered me a lot.”

The power outage hit on June 9 and lasted for much of the day. The radio stations that remained on air struggled to get information out to the public about what was going on.

The professor, who previously lectured in Hawaii, said: “Back home, what had happened would be communicated within 30 minutes, but there was none of that. One ended up imagining something more serious — terrorism, plane crash or whatever.”

He added: “They should have come on and at least apologised to people and explained what they were doing about it. Just leaving people in the dark was not the right thing to do.”

Abdullah Al Hajri, DEWA’s corporate communications manager, told Campaign Middle East that lessons had been learnt. “There are always ways to improve. People wanted to know the cause of the problem and at the time we just did not know.”

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