I’ve been asked, what is public relations, numerous times. I’ve been asked if it means I have breakfast with the President in the morning, select an outfit for another client’s speech in the afternoon, and have drinks with journalists in the evening. I suppose some days may feel like that, however most of it happens behind the scenes.
Early morning phone calls to reporters, pithy emails, tweets and retweets. It’s waiting, following-up and waiting again. It’s finding any means possible to garner earned (free) exposure for my clients to improve their brand recognition, engage their customer (and potential customer) base, and educate and sway society’s opinions about their company, service or product. It’s much more than meetings and events.
Most of my time is spent behind my computer on the phone, usually multi-tasking to meet tight deadlines.
Why? Why go through all this?
Because the way my clients are presentation and represented to the media, consumers, other businesses – their target audience and their audience’s audience – is crucial to their success. Their reputation depends on me.
In other words, public relations is the presentation of a person or organization, reputation management. (Of course, public relations covers much more, such crisis management, however I’ll keep this simple).
Presentation includes communications, actions, reactions, and even those with whom you (or an organization) is associated. When former Governor of Florida Charlie Crist aligned himself with well-known democratic attorney John Morgan, he made a public statement which impacted his reputation and messaging to constituents.
Conversely, when former owner of the L.A. Lakers, Donald Sterling made racist comments in a private setting, his words leaked to the public and the media, and that had a huge effect on ownership status and the way society viewed him.
Communication gaffs have caused businesses to fail and have lead to a loss of employment for many.
We may hear more about the negative, however positive stories are often results of good public relations.
When a Dairy Queen employee stood up for a blind customer who had dropped a $20 bill that was picked up and pocketed by the person in line behind him, Dairy Queen received a lot of positive press. The frozen treat giant capitalized on the attention and was perceived differently. People were more apt to spend money at DQ than their competitors since they liked the way the employee treated the blind customer.
What instances of communications or actions have you seen that impacted an individual’s or organization’s public perception? How about on social media?