As PR people, it’s in our nature to be hyper-sensitive to the issues and possible outcomes in every situation (I’m pretty sure this is why my friends think I’m a pessimist). We take each scenario and run through all the positive and negative implications, thinking about ways to either capitalize on or minimize the impact after the announcement.
This skill is critical for a good public relations representative. Oftentimes, companies and individuals don’t consult their communications teams before moving forward with an idea, even though this should be the first step! Today it’s all about being first, so people and companies all move quickly to be the first to get their “creative” idea or “funny” joke to the public, but forget to get a second opinion or consider the consequences.
So, for those who either don’t have a communications team or are simply looking for a few pointers, here are four things that PR people always remember (and help our clients remember, too):
1. Nothing is truly “off the record” – Just because you tell the reporter something is off the record or your microphone is turned off, don’t think that means what you say can’t come back to haunt you later. The information will always be in the back of the reporter’s mind, so you need to be comfortable with anything you say.
2. If your company is going to take a position on a controversial subject, be prepared to lose customers – There will always be a group of people who disagree with what you say. So even if you think you’re on the “good” side, you’re going to alienate those on the “bad” side and vice versa. It’s important to remember that if your company takes a political, cultural or religious stance, you will need to be ready for the blowback.
3. If you’re going to share controversial personal opinions, be prepared for backlash, including potential job loss – The celebrity and sports worlds are rife with examples of personal opinions that have tarnished reputations. However, this doesn’t mean only high-profile figures can be affected by controversial statements. So, learn a lesson from the unfortunate souls who’ve lost jobs, endorsements and credibility after speaking their minds.
4. Your company doesn’t need to speak during somber holidays – Memorial Day isn’t the kick off to summer and 9/11 isn’t a time for your company to market itself (yes, this does happen). No one will ever question why a company didn’t mention the anniversary of a somber event, but they will remember your attempt to capitalize on it as distasteful.
Even if you’re a one-woman-shop, it’s important to have someone in the communications field on your side – and I’m not just saying that because it’s what I do. You need a professional who can help you understand the intricacies of brand awareness – both good and bad. But, if that’s not in your budget right now, these four tips will help you get on the right track.
PR people – what are your thoughts? Did I miss anything?