Having watched a number of organisations managing their public relations (PR) after negative commentary in the media, and not doing a very good job at it in my humble opinion, I wondered - have we lost the plot when it comes to PR?
Furthermore, have we lost the plot with many of life's events? Do we over-complicate things, do we think too hard on what might or might not happen, are we trying to be too smart (too clever), or is it necessary in today's over-complicated world?
Without singling out one organisation in particular, there has been two recent PR struggles with a large sporting body in New Zealand who could have done much better, much sooner. It appears that they are using an old model of;
- Ignore it and see what happens - "Today's newspaper is tomorrow's fish and chip wrapper."
- Deny that it is your responsibility - "It's not for us to comment on, it is a decision made by another entity."
- Get the fire brigade - "Let's put a heap of water on this and see if we can quell the fire of discontent.”
PR for me comes down to three things - should we make a comment, what should we say, and what is the predicted reaction to what we have just said?
The answer to the first questions is always, yes, you should always make comment. With the explosion of social media, unless you make comment others will do so for you. It’s basic physics really, a void will be filled with something.
As to the second question, the late Paul Holmes had a great line - "What would Mum think?" And that is the benchmark for most of us, what would an elderly lady want you to say to her if she was wronged?
As to the third question, it is easy to run a straw poll across a few people outside of your organisation to make an independent comment on what you are about to say. This removes 'group think' and gives you a fair indication of probable reaction. Better still go to the person impacted by what has happened and ask them what they think.
Organisations that make mistakes, and individuals for that matter, have two options; do nothing or do something. The former is never an option. The latter comes down to a simple test, "What would mum want?"
I dare say Mum would want you to apologise immediately, then tell her what you have done to make it better. Let's not over-complicate things, let’s use the KISS principle.