Too Little, Too late…Waking Up to the Need for PR

Feb 14th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Public relations

importance of PR, PR in times of crisis

Getting the right type of coverage

A week ago while reading the paper, I noticed a story about a prominent international, non-profit organization which was caught up in a scandal involving “inappropriate financial transactions”. It does not surprise me, in this day and age, to see non-profits (or any other organizations’) heads or employees involved in illegal activity. Thinking back to some of the news headlines from the last two years, it is easy to see why. Clearly these unlawful acts have and will continue to occur. The article ended with the reporter stating, “The organization has retained the law firm of… to “undertake a new, independent and thorough review,” as well as a public relations firm to handle the matter.

OK. Now I understand why they would want and need a top law firm. I can also sympathize about the fact that they really do, at this point, require a PR firm as well. Nevertheless, I am almost certain that this bit of information is not really of interest to the majority of people. It shouldn’t have even made it to the news pages at all. Surely this is only a natural course of action for most organizations in times of trouble?

When I worked at a big PR firm, countless times we would be hired to deal with some organizations’ “predicament”. It did not cease to amaze me then, and I still find it bizarre, how companies and organizations only wake up to the importance of PR when they face a crisis.

Why is it, when faced with a situation that would potentially harm one’s organization, does it dawn on management to do something about it? Communicating one’s message to the public and building a brand name or reputation is ongoing – regardless of how much PR effort is put into it. Just simply interacting with various public audiences builds a reputation – the person handling telephone queries, the person behind the checkout counter, the delivery people dropping off some goods, the technician fixing a problem… the list goes on.

It is extremely hard, in today’s digital and social media age, to control what your audience says about you. Ignoring the issue until you find yourself in a “predicament” can be near impossible. PR efforts need to be ongoing. Every organization needs to have predefined messages and activities that enhances and builds its reputation. It is only then, that “when the going gets tough”, it can count on the loyalty and trust developed, to weather the storm.

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