PR – Not A Four-Letter Word

Some people treat Public Relations with disdain and that’s unfortunate. PR impacts more levels of a company or small business than ever before. Ignore or undervalue it and you will spell a real four-letter word: F-A-I-L!

A few days back, a person I follow on Twitter retweeted a hilarious post by Tom Fishburne to illustrate literally that the “R” in PR stands for “Relations.”  I would also offer that it stands for “Reputation” too.

Previously in this space, I have discussed how many share the notion that customer service is the new marketing. A client I have worked with on certain aspects of their marketing effort had neglected to update another part I don’t oversee. The result was a bad customer experience that ended up in that customer’s Facebook status.

As soon as I learned of it, I immediately addressed the issue with the client, took steps to minimize the damage and made sure they took ownership of the situation.

Not only is PR, and other types of marketing, important for a business to grow and prosper, it’s critical for making sure the community at large understands what you as a business and owner stand for. You want everyone to know you are not just a business; you are a vibrant and helpful partner to your customers and the community.

Planning your PR and marketing is necessary. A business owner I know had always handled external relations informally. When the business decided to execute some changes to its regular operations, the owner figured they could communicate in the same manner that they had been accustomed. Unfortunately, the message was misconstrued and it almost did permanent damage to the opinion people had of the business.

In offering to help, the owner eventually understood my goal for them and gave me freedom to express their message. That goal was to better identify the avenues of communication for them, make sure the message was clearly defined and help them get ahead of it thus ensuring their ownership of the message.

Leaders of well run businesses understand that outside forces can and will channel counter messages by bending theirs. However, a clear statement and expression of your goals, initiatives and intentions allow you to build public relations into an overall operational plan – especially when things do go wrong and regular PR becomes crisis PR.

Whether it’s the example of Domino’s Pizza (which took a pro-active marketing/PR/advertising approach to addressing its quality issues), a company like Johnson & Johnson facing the Tylenol crisis years ago or the small business examples above – make sure to find your genuine voice and tell your story at all times.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” – Bill Gates

About catchdrivermarketing

Catch Driver provides marketing and communications services/consultation for small to medium size businesses and non-profits. The "Your Ideas...On Track" slogan means helping organizations and business owners with projects they want to do, but lack staff and time to execute themselves, and working to drive them to a successful outcome. See more at
This entry was posted in Advertising, Branding, Communications, Customer Experience, Marketing, Planning, Public Relations, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to PR – Not A Four-Letter Word

  1. I am a student and my knowledge on the Public Relations’ world is very limited. I agree with you‒the R can be interchangeably replaced with reputation. In regards to the latter, I find myself thinking sometimes whether or not being a PR professional would really benefit my character. I guess I have attached a stigma to the profession. But as I learn more, my eyes have been opened to the many ways these professionals can smooth issues out while maintaining their integrity. I suppose essentially these people are peacemakers. Enjoyed reading your post!

    • Thanks Kirsten. I appreciate your view and comments. PR is definitely a mis-understood field, but it’s important for people to understand it better and make use of it. A journalist friend of mine told me that you’re only a story once, then you have to be news. By understanding PR, you can understand how to earn coverage. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.

  2. Dave Wellman says:

    I think that the new media and real time opportunities that make up the social media world these days can be an effective tool in developing the right kind of reputation for companies (especially those in crisis). Zappos always comes to mind when I think of the effective use of new media for building good PReputation. Companies new to this forum can learn much from the upstarts at Zappos (and of course Catch Drive Marketing!)

    Good article, thanks!

    • Thanks Dave. Zappos is mentioned in the entry noted by my link about Customer Service in this entry. They are the gold standard. A quote I found when researching this entry also rings true from a guy that took his lumps early on: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon. Thanks again for the reading support and comment.

  3. Pingback: Lead with LUV | It's Marketing Post Time

  4. Pingback: Crisis PR-A Five W Approach for Small Business | Quad Cities Marketing, PR, Branding & Event Planning – It's Marketing Post Time

  5. Pingback: Crisis PR-A Five W Approach for Small Business | Catchdriver Marketing

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