"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese proverb
Unlike number of sales, number of customers and members, or revenue and profit, the impact of and need for public relations is a bit harder to quantify…until it’s too late. The reality check for public relations comes immediately after a company disaster.
PR is a proactive/preemptive discipline. You can’t “get good PR” in the midst of crisis. All the legwork of good PR is done BEFORE any issues arise.
Don’t miss that point. The PR work is done BEFORE a crisis.
The foundation of public relations (i.e. relationships with your publics/customers/audiences) is trust. How silly to think that you could build trust instantly, and in the midst of a major problem (which could be anything—an explosion at a company plant, sexual harassment from leadership, illegal activity from staff, a faulty product…and the list goes on).
If I sped down your street, wrecked my car into your neighbor’s car, got out and yelled at them, then walked up to your door and asked you out on a date, what would you say? No, I would hope! How should I expect you to think kindly of me A) when that poor image is fresh on your mind and B) ESPECIALLY if that is the only interaction you’ve had with me?
Maybe that illustration didn’t resonate. Here’s another: Waiting for crises to think about your PR is like trying to simultaneously run up a steep, muddy hill, while wearing cheap flip-flops, balancing an egg on a spoon, and chugging boiling hot coffee. Sure, MAYBE it can be done…but at what cost?
There are a thousand books, articles, blogs, and videos about “How To Have Good PR” and most of them involve the HOW. The lists typically look something like this: “be honest, be direct, be relatable, be interesting, be apologetic, DON’T be apologetic”…Here’s the rub: if you don’t do those things at the right TIME, they mean virtually nothing. The “HOW” doesn’t matter as much as the “WHEN.” And the “WHEN” should always start BEFORE the crisis. (Are you catching my drift?).
Here’s why PR is a full-time profession, not just an “as needed” skill that your Accounts Payable department can handle: your company is relating to and communicating with its publics at all times, and silence communicates something. That is the singular reason your company needs PR. I hope your management has the wisdom, insight, and proactivity to invest in public relations professionals who make it their job to proactively build relationships.
The best time to start building positive public relations was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.