Tuesday, September 09, 2008

PR filters

My response to this post by Tami, who is herself a PR person (and a good one, in my experience):

Some executives are more capable of public relations and marketing than others. In some cases, the executive should say nothing without the PR manager's approval or nothing at all, if such an arrangement is agreed to by the company owner(s).

But it's both great and possible for some executives to relay their own goals and values. Walt Disney is a great example, particularly considering how enormous that company was before his death.

In this particular case, Jacobs blog article seems professional and perfectly alright. His article is a criticism of common behavior, and any criticism in our modern culture can mean lost customers and more yelling at the customer service folks. But if he's representing a company standard of expecting people to be civil, then the article didn't need approval. The mere mention of his company's recent service difficulties isn't improper, though he's certainly inviting trolls to his blog.

PR folks are usually a company's faces and communicators, but that's not the only efficient possibility. They can alternatively be used as advisors for researching and informing the CEO or other executives before those leaders take action, as well as relaying the executive's PR decisions to local audiences.

Through her work for Areae, Tami represents another potential role for PR folks. When someone joins the Metaplace community, she's usually there to greet and help the person immediately. Walmart smartly mimicked churches by making greeters a stand-alone job. Making any one personal connection to your company available to each and every individual is extremely effective marketing and PR. It's a difficult task for companies with large customer bases, to be sure; but worth pursuing to any extent.

Anyway, not every public statement should be filtered. Customers want to deal with human beings, not abstract formalities. Thus, keeping business personal is an effective marketing strategy (and morally right, of course). Strict bureaucracy is not conducive to that strategy. It's difficult to trust anyone who can't say anything without consultation.

For the same reason, the platform for public statements should not always be arranged. Always restricting the PR setting signals to customers that the speaker has a business mode from which personal considerations are shut out. Again, trust is damaged.

Don't kid yourself. Business is always personal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.