Richard Branson shows that slick PR is far from necessary in difficult times

20141103-183503.jpgFollowing the terrible crash of a Virgin Galactic test flight, Richard Branson has been on the offensive in the past 24 hours, railing against misguided reports of the source of the crash.

But it’s not his pugnacious side that has most impressed me, rather his humanity.

He was quick to fly straight out to the crash site after the tragic accident, visiting affected families and the surviving pilot. He’s also made himself available to the media and not palmed off responsibility to a Press spokesperson.

I listened to him being interviewed on BBC 5 Live on Monday and he was hesitant, stuttering and repeated himself – and utterly brilliant at the same time.

The very fact that he’s not full of pre-rehearsed soundbites and has clearly been affected emotionally by the crash is exactly why people warm to him – and unquestionably a big factor behind his success.

In a world dominated by staged media opportunities, spin and PR-led news, Branson stands out like a beacon of humanity.

His real, human response to an event such as this serves as an example to every other executive at the top echelons of companies. When something goes wrong, act quickly and be a real person.

The public don’t want spin, they want a genuine response. They want emotion. They want heart.

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