The Effects of Sept. 11 Across the Wires

It's not surprising that on Sept. 11 of last week, there'd be little "PR" to push out. But because there's no precedent for how to conduct business on this solemn anniversary day, we did find a small number of organizations in a "business as usual" mode when it came to what they released on the wires. Most others held back - for at least a day. At the close of business on Sept. 11, we reviewed Business Wire, PR Newswire and U.S. Newswire to see what sort of activity they had seen over the course of the day. What we found: Some organizations were releasing news connected to the anniversary of the attacks, but for a rare few, there was nothing stopping the release of financial and personnel news. Lorry Lokey, president and CEO of Business Wire, reports that his organization saw only 240 releases posted on Sept. 11, 2002, compared to the average for a typical Tuesday of more than 1,000. PR Newswire's volume was down 75 percent. "This really was a holiday/holy day atmosphere," Lokey says of Sept. 11, 2002. He predicts Business Wire and other wire services will see a higher than usual volume beginning today (Sept. 16) to make up for last week's slow news. Below, a sample of the news from the three wires we perused on Sept. 11, 2002: The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the presentation of the News and Documentary Emmy Awards. The release did not mention the anniversary of the attacks, though one executive alluded to the difficulties of the past year in his comment in the release: "If ever there was a year to recognize television news coverage, this was it." Harris Interactive released the results of its poll showing which countries Americans view as close allies. Last year, immediately after Sept. 11, the poll found that there were dramatic changes in the way Americans looked at other countries, while this year's release documented a return to more typical views. Several companies released everyday personnel news, including North American Palladium Ltd., Rolls Royce and Wet Seal. American Water Works, a New Jersey utility, announced its plans to unveil third quarter financial results in October. Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta, a Staten Island, N.Y. restaurant, posted a release detailing how its employees had worked on a scale model of the Manhattan skyline displayed in the window of the restaurant to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks. The three-page Goodfella's release takes a detailed look back at the previous year, from how employees gave away about 7,000 meals ($50,000 in revenues) to how sales have now returned to normal after their abysmal levels immediately following Sept. 11, 2001. Flight Explorer, a provider of Internet-based flight tracking information, used the Sept. 11 anniversary as a hook to announce the addition of a new desktop interface and other features to its product. In one of the most fascinating - not to mention slightly bewildering - releases of the day, Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar announced he would logically prove the existence of God in a release seemingly completely unrelated to Sept. 11. Mazumdar will present his proof during a day-long conference on the interconnection of science and religion at the Lake Shore Interfaith Institute in Michigan. (Business Wire: Lokey, 415/986-4422)

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