Tag Archives: crisis

The PR Story: Why controlling the narrative matters

image-93“It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.” Errol Flynn

For professionals in the public relations industry, a part of our job description is storytelling. We’re tasked with the goal of creating a story to go behind a brand, a product, or our client. It is a chance for us to think strategically about how we want our clients to be represented in their industry, as well as to their target audience.

The story that is created is a valuable asset. It is a unique representation of your client that helps differentiate themselves in the market, and to help establish ways for their audience to identify with their brand. Alongside any valuable asset come potential threats that could
compromise its worth.

Whether you’re facing a product recall, an offensive commercial, or a political candidate that has alienated a group of constituents, you lose control of the story. The story is now in the hands of the public, and how they view the narrative from the outside in is the only thing
framing their judgment.

As PR professionals, we are responsible for regaining control of the story. In other words, telling the narrative as it is within the organization. It’s about being transparent and honest to regain the respect of your most important stakeholders. Every hour in a crisis is crucial time. The longer you take to tell your side of the story, the more time the public and the media has to
create the story for you. It’s natural for humans to logically create reason, when reason isn’t given.

The point to drive home in this article is why controlling the narrative matters. For every minute you spend analyzing the crisis, your audience is losing faith in your ability to tell the truth. “Tell it all, tell it fast, and tell the truth” is the crisis management motto. As PR professionals, we have the skill-set to create the story. The story that is created for you isn’t always going to be the truth, making it difficult for you to reestablish trust with your stakeholders. The challenge is to tell the story before it’s created for you.

Why else does controlling the narrative matter? Sound off in the comments below or tweet me @Sam__Dickson.

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PR & the Weather: When Mother Nature Throws A Snowball

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Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.
 Anthony J. D’Angelo

Admit it. The winter weather has power, and a lot of it. After just being hit with winter storm Maximus, the city is being slammed with more flakes and freezing rain. So what impact does the adverse weather conditions have on business? More specifically, how does the weather impact public relations?

For starters, businesses function and depend on transportation. Whether it’s commuting in to work, or making deliveries for clients, there is an undeniable reliance upon the world of planes, trains, and automobiles. It all goes back to the old adage “if you bought it, a truck brought it.” The interesting thing about this topic is the wide range of industries impacted by transportation. It doesn’t matter if you work for a tech company, a restaurant, or a luxury fashion label – in some way or another your industry relies on some form of transportation.

When the colder weather arrives, it is important to consider ways in which your client’s business or industry will be impacted by delays or cancellations. This includes understanding how
transportation (or the lack thereof) may cause some public relations issues, or a crisis situation. Below I’ve compiled a list of impacts that you may face with your client, or your client’s business. As well, I’ve included potential ways to alleviate the issue, and prepare for a scenario before it takes place.

  • Internal Relations – When the weather gets bad, you need to consider the safety of all your employees. While you have a duty to your clients to be punctual for meetings,
    or conference calls, one thing you can’t control is the weather. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize people’s safety. In this situation, being prepared is key.
    If you are aware of potential weather conditions, have communication material ready to be distributed to your employees. This should include what will take place if it is unsafe to travel to work. If there are scheduled meetings to take place that day, be sure to have a strategy in place to reschedule or make the meeting virtual.
  • The Client – If you own your own firm, or work for an agency, you need to be prepared to communicate to your client about the inclement weather. Make sure you bring home client numbers and contact information if you are not able to travel to the office. Keep in mind that not all clients will be located in your city. Business is as usual on their end.
  • The Audience – If you manage in-house communications, have proper material in place for letting your audience know the effects of the weather on your business schedule.
    This includes operating hours or intended early closures. The best way to alleviate
    frustration due to a surprised closure is to inform the public as soon as possible
    about any changes.
  • Understand the Industry – As I mentioned above, each industry of public relations will be impacted by weather conditions differently. Road closures can impact the delivery of
    sample garments required for a magazine shoot happening downtown. On the other hand, scheduled flights for a celebrity’s interview with press might be canceled.

Make sure you’ve considered these scenarios and potential solutions, especially ones that
impact your industry directly. It all comes down to being prepared for these situations before they occur.

What other ways does the weather impact public relations? Tweet me @Sam__Dickson

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Why do I need public relations?

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“Why does my company need PR?”

It’s a question I’ve seen more often than I’d like to admit. As an aspiring PR professional, it’s a love-hate relationship when it comes to answering this question. On one hand, my passion for the field makes me cringe at the thought of a company considering no form of public relations. On the other, I love answering this question because I can inform people on the impact PR strategies have on their bottom line goals.

This question may come from current business owners, to new entrepreneurs, as well as
students creating their own personal brand. The answers as to why may vary slightly, but the
overall intentions behind implementing PR strategies remain the same. Some may argue that you need to start the business before considering public relations. I’d make the argument that it’s never too soon to start protecting and building relationships with your stakeholders. After all, if you make the investment, why wouldn’t you want to do whatever it takes to maintain its reputation?

Here are a few of the main reasons why you need PR:

  • Reputation Management. This should be somewhat of a given. A large portion of hiring an in-house PR strategist or an outside agency is to help you manage your
    reputation as a business. Your business is only as good as the reputation it has among your most important stakeholders.
  • Crisis Communication. If/when negative comments arise around your company, the first person that will (hopefully) notice will be your PR manager. We’re trained to stay on top of the company’s performance and perception among the audiences. This includes dealing with a negative situation quickly and effectively if it arises.
  • Branding – one company, one voice. Public relations is also necessary for filling gaps caused by miscommunication. Whether it’s communication materials, or social media channels, public relations practitioners can assist in creating one unique voice for your brand. If your materials each convey a different message, you lose coherency as a brand, as well as your audiences’ understanding of your business. It’s important to keep your messaging consistent to ensure that everyone understands what it is you are offering.
  • Exposure and business development. The goal of public relations is to help you, or your company gain exposure among your audience. This includes building relationships with your stakeholders, as well as building the business in general. PR seeks to help you gain earned media that will contribute to meeting your overall objectives and build your
    company as a whole.

Why else do you think a company needs PR? Tweet me with your ideas @Sam__Dickson!

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