Nearly 81% of U.S. Chief Executive Officers say their existing crisis management plans were inadequate to handle the myriad issues arising from the September 11th tragedy, according to the third annual PR Week/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey 2001 released this week. In addition, 63% of the CEOs surveyed report they have readdressed their plans since the attacks.

The findings of the third annual PR Week/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey suggest that an effective crisis management strategy is not only important, but that it is vital in the eyes of America's corporate leaders. In addition, the survey found that CEOs recognize the value of their role in a time of crisis, with 85% of them saying that it's "very important" or "absolutely vital" that they serve as company spokesperson in a disaster.

And 91% of CEOs surveyed said that it was "very important" or "important" to communicate with "all employees" in the aftermath a tragedy; 74% of CEOs favored "face to face meetings" with employees as "absolutely vital" or "very important" to communicating after tragedy. The second most favored way to communicate with employees was via e-mail (62%).

The survey also measured how executives would make cutbacks if forced to reassess use of direct mail, advertising, sales promotions or public relations services in a recession. Of those surveyed, 67% said that if forced to make cutbacks, they would cut direct mail first, while 60% would first reduce advertising. Good news for public relations and corporate communications as the vast majority of CEOs (75%) believed that, if forced to make cutbacks, they would cut PR and corporate communications last.

The survey results can be found on the Web at: http://www.prweekus.com/us.features/ceo.htm