Friday, August 8, 2008

PR Talks All The Time


Pity the public relations professional because he's on call all the time. It's harder than being a flight attendant. Flight attendants smile and serve before the flight, during the flight and after the flight. Once everyone's off the plane, they can let down those smiles and cheery dispositions for a few hours.

Not so for PR folks. We're about crisis management, investor relations, community relations and corporate social responsibility. Ignoring people or being in a bad mood is not an excuse. The best thing is to stay in doors. This way you won't risk ruffling anyone's feathers and, then have to perform crisis management for Y-O-U, Inc.

The other day a rep had to hear another describe his inattentiveness which could be interpreted in so many negative ways. At first, the rep wasn't open to hearing the description but then realized if one person could view the situation that way who else may see it that way too.

Being communications strategists, we have to be strategic in our talk. We have to explain what we want and why. For example, if a colleague asks to visit you at your office, a response such as, "I don't you want to come to the office," is bound to cause controversy. The better phrasing is "Hey, it's very busy in here now and I want our conversation confidential. Is it convenient for you now to take notes over the phone?" You appear to reveal something about yourself and you consider the other person. Can you believe this is an actual clip of a conversation? When asked, "Why didn't you tell me the office was busy?'' the response was, "I don't have to tell you that." This could make a minor faux pas a major rub the wrong way.

Rubbing someone the wrong way is not the public relations game. PR brings the oil, the mat and ambient music to every scene. Can you PR talk all the time?

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