17 Apr On the Importance of Public Relations
It would be remiss to let the events of last week go untouched by our team. Pepsi. United Airlines. The White House Press Secretary. Important lessons in public relations are learned as the days go by, bringing the importance of brand awareness and relationships with the media to the forefront.
To err is human. We, as people, make mistakes in the heat of the moment. We say things we may not mean. But in the age of phone cameras, social media and news “gone viral,” it’s essential for today’s companies (and thereby, their brands) to have a crisis communications plan in action spearheaded by communications experts who understand the news cycle and the importance of messaging. I could go on and on about the various ways that United Airlines quite simple, screwed up in their dealings with an overbooked flight, but I will spare you the additional (and over-covered commentary) by simply saying: today’s brands can do better.
My boss shared an article today from USA Today that talked about how CEOs (such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) make decisions. The article said, “Amazon’s goal is to make fast, quality decisions, which often can be done when about ’70 percent of the information you wish you had’ is available, Bezos wrote. Waiting for 90 percent means going too slow.” The same can be said for crisis communications. There’s a “sweet spot” for companies to address issues. Jumping too fast can cause important information to be missed, but waiting until a story has “gone viral” or made the 24-hour news cycle is far too slow. Companies must strike the proper balance between communicating first with the people directly affected, and in turn, the public, which includes the news media.
But communications and establishing a relationship with the media shouldn’t start and stop when a crisis occurs. Today, brands must take awareness, promotions, marketing and media relations seriously; especially in the security industry where the market is crowded and a great product or solution can get lost in the shuffle. Merely engaging in the “status quo” of public relations – sending a few press releases and arranging a few interviews – isn’t good enough anymore.
Brands – and their PR teams – must take an integrated approach to communications. It’s not only critical to their survival, it’s critical to becoming a brand that will be around in the long run.