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