THE BLOG
18/11/2013 05:52 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:56 GMT

Public Relations Could Have Helped the Philippines

The typhoon that swept through the Philippines last week has been followed by a storm of anger over the complete lack of activity by the Philippines' government... or at least that is how it seems.

It is a country that is far more sophisticated than many in the West may care to think, so what a disaster their communication system has been as journalists from around the world descend upon the town of Tacloban.

It seems unthinkable to believe they did not have a crisis plan in place from a comms point of view, when typhoons and extreme weather fronts are a regular occurrence.

They need aide, they need money and it is starting to happen, but the people have been left to communicate themselves and I can't help feeling that potential donors from the public around the world don't hesitate when they see a country that is in such chaos. One thing you want to know when you dip young hands into your pockets is that the money is going to go to where it is intended.

The Phillipines Government needed to illustrate through a public relations crisis plan that their infrastructure does work; food and aide arriving at the airport will reach the needy efficiently through the army and other services; what type of medical help and expertise is needed and where, plus a real A to Z of what supplies could really assist at this time - be it tents, food or clothing.

Of course they are traumatised and of course these circumstances are beyond what they have experienced before, but modern Governments must surely grasp that 24 hour news means that whatever the issue - be it political, financial or disaster - their planning of the communications objectives are right at the very top of the list.

Watching TV last night, it was clear that Sri Lanka was equally challenged. Not forgetting the rights and the wrongs of their appalling human rights record, their preparation for the world's media following the Prime Minister and Prince Charles was shambolic. If the Government has any case for the way they behave, it was in tatters within a matter of hours as their leaders sneered at the UK's pleas to improve their record of violence and censorship against any opposition.

This was their platform to turn around years of negative reporting of their country; a chance to show strides were being made to align their nation with others in terms of democracy, free speech and fair elections.

Communication is a force for good, but unplanned and ill-thought out PR can destroy reputations, shatter confidence and put a country back years in terms of his ability to perform effectively on the international stage.