Over the last few weeks I must have been asked about the value of PR at least 10 times. To many, Public Relations is a world of fluff and spin. But reality could not be farther from the truth…
Lazy PR is what most people associate with Public Relations activity: Churning out vacuous press releases simply to tick a box and count the beans for your boss or client. Without forward-thinking, creativity or looking at a client’s bottom line.
Great PR is an altogether different animal. Not only does intelligent PR create and drive a brand; it also protects a brand. And how do you quantify the worth of your brand?
When I lectured in PR for Boston University (USA) and The University of Buckingham, I used to recommend that my students throw out every book they have ever read on PR – many are full of bar charts and graphs that mean zilch in the real world.
If a plane falls out the sky, you don’t have time to start searching for ‘Crisis Management’ in a textbook. For most companies or individuals, they only truly value the tenacity of PR when shit hits the corporate fan and share prices or sales sheets are faltering.
In most basic terms, if there is a public-facing issue with your product, business or service, the guestimated loss associated with this is two years’ worth of marketing budget. Go figure. And prevention is better than cure although many companies don’t believe in investing in PR until they have to play catch-up.
Long gone are the days when PR accounts should solely be quantified by rigid KPI’s and complicated algebraic formulae. Marketing departments need to look beyond the text book and consider real ROI for their individual business, rather than have their head stuck in a corporate box.
Solid PR is as much about happy staff and how an MD or CEO presents him or herself to the world as it is about achieving sales targets and column inches. When things go wrong you always look for the weakest link in the business. And 99% of the time this comes down to people.
Bottom line, PR is about Positive Reputation, at every level of the business model. What takes years to build up can be destroyed in minutes. Once you lose trust in a product, brand or individual, it takes much longer to re-build that trust – just imagine your partner has been unfaithful to you… how long does it take to build trust again? Sometimes months, sometimes never.
As a PR professional who is often called upon when others fail or after companies or individuals have been burnt, I am 100% committed to building and protecting my clients’ brands. Discerning consumers today are flooded with the gift of choice and Google to search ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ reviews. Whilst online posts can be removed, human sentiment cannot be so easily erased.
One of my most fundamental roles comes into the fore when companies are in trouble or people are causing problems. People are much more difficult to manage than a faulty toy when there is fixed protocol to follow.
I urge my fellow PR colleagues to teach their clients well and educate them in the why’s and wherefore’s of ‘positive relations’. And this is how I think PR should be re-named: POSITIVE RELATIONS. Let’s put more positivity into public relations. It’s about time…