What is Public Relations and Do You Need It?
There are many misconceptions as it relates to ‘Public Relations’. It is often associated with untruths, propaganda or a spin on accurate information. In fact, Public Relations can equate to the truth. Do not be fooled, an excellent Public Relations (PR) Professional will always encourage you to speak the truth and advise against hiding behind false statements. If you are advised to tell untruths, you are not receiving quality PR advice. PR professionals are confident that they can save or manage your brand and your reputation based on carefully constructed steps.
Perhaps the biggest misconception is that PR is fundamentally communications. These professionals produce Press Releases, Newsletters, Flyers, Posters, Social Media Content, Webinars, Conferences and Events. PR professionals are responsible for developing relationships with your stakeholders. These can include employers, customers, investors, directors and suppliers. They use communication tools to support their efforts to foster positive relationships to ensure that there is productivity, understanding and agreement.
If you are unable to negotiate and manage a compromise based on evidence, you may need a PR professional to evaluate the needs of all stakeholders against the final goal of a project, task or activity. The PR professional will advise the best approach concerning major changes in your policies and procedures. It may seem simple, but dependent upon the feedback they receive, they will be equipped to advise you on actionable steps that can yield the most positive response.
PR is best known for crisis management. Today we will take a look at the top actions when there is a crisis within your organisation. None of which includes telling untruths, but rather assessing a variety of options that may prove useful depending upon the circumstances your organisation faces. There is always crisis among us; some may be on a smaller scale where as some can be on the national or international forefront. When there is a crisis there are five (5) core actions that can be taken, and a good PR professional will be able to advise which of these actions will be most appropriate.
This strategy is quite popular in the political arena and is often a knee jerk reaction. When accused, political organizations are quick to deny within 24 hours of the accusation. However, the strategy is only effective, if it is backed by transparent, reliable and accountable evidence. If you are denying an accusation, you must have the facts, figures, statistics and a credible third party endorsement that your denial is as good as gold. If you deny an accusation without the facts to back up your claim, you lose the value of this strategy. You must be able to counter effectively with the fundamentals of persuasion to regain the trust of your audience.
Organizations are sometimes faced with decisions that they must make. This may include the retrenchment of staff or the unfair dismissal of a contractor or supplier. An organization may be seeking to expand its operations, but may cause homeowners to be displaced. Regardless of the decision taken, your stakeholders may want insightful reasons why a particular decision was taken that negatively affected an individual or a group of people. You must provide reasons why the decision was taken. The organization must illustrate that they have been boxed into a corner without any clear means of achieving the same result
If involved in a scandal, many divert to Strategy 1 and deny accusations without any evidence. In fact if the accusation is true, it is advisable to admit to the act, as opposed to out rightly denying that it was you in the picture, video or audio clipping. If we choose the route of lying, there is a chance that your audience would not believe you without factual evidence. Your accuser may also be armed with additional arsenal, and may be waiting for you to deny the act, only to release additional information to disprove your denial. Seek sympathy, understanding and express the reasons why you were involved in the scandal.
When crisis hits, we tend to move quickly. We have a desire to respond, to refute, to admit, to deny or to justify. A good PR Professional would not rush to respond, but have a comprehensive understanding of a 24 hour window that is used to assess timeliness. It is not about haste, it is about being as efficient as possible in a short period. The PR professional will assess the situation, the possible actions and the consequences of each action. The action with the most manageable consequences will be chosen, not necessarily the least number of consequences.
A PR Professional will never advise you to apologize in the first instance, unless the action is unimaginable against mindset of your stakeholders and customers. Common controversial topics that are difficult to retrieve the loyalty of your stakeholders are topics related to race, politics and religion. Any topic that is also controversial in the public eye should also be avoided unless your brand or business is directly involved. If you happen to make commentary on these, and it is received with negative responses, it is difficult to retract statements.
How does all of this work? Public Relations can never work as best as it could unless it has access to top management. They may report to a team of Directors or directly to a Chief Executive Officer. Over time they must develop a relationship of trust and confidentiality with these professionals. Crisis Management is just part of the several functions in PR. However, it is probably the most popular service sought after by huge conglomerates.
PR is not only a necessity for big organizations, but this service can also be valuable to your small or medium business. Crisis can occur on much smaller scales that can be just as damaging to your brand. You want to have access to these types of services in the event a crisis occurs. They will be able to lobby on your behalf, approach the media and speak with your suppliers in the event you have an issue that needs addressing.
Stay tune to our blog and we will continue to provide you with insight on the role and function of PR and how this service can be profitable to your business or brand.
Our Connective Pros team offers several business solutions in Public Relations, Marketing, Media and Communications. When we provide tools to you, we want you to understand the most effective methods on how to use them. We want you to receive the best mileage from every product or service that you purchase from us. If you are still unsure you can always contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happy to provide you with additional details on all our services.
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