Smart PR is Not Reactionary

I don’t like to rant on my blog. I think it is part of my J-O-B to be positive, encouraging, and instructional on here. So I apologize in advance if this post is too negative, but I’m in the midst of dealing with what can only be described as colossal bone-headedness in regards to PR, and unfortunately this is not a rare occurrence.

If you care about your company’s PR [Public Relations], and by that I mean the perception that your customers and audience have of you, you need a strategy. You need staff who are dedicated to your ongoing Public Relations Strategy. If none of your employees are PR Pros, you need a consultant you can turn to for advice on both long term goals and in times of crisis.

What does your strategy look like? Here are some key questions you need answered:

1. What is the main message your company wants to get out regularly? Is it excellent service, uniqueness of experience? WHAT IS YOUR CORE VALUE STATEMENT that should come instantly to mind when your customers think of your company?

2. What does your long term campaign to get that core message out look like? What tactics will you use on a regular basis to communicate? What special events will you plan as highlights for that message?

3. Who is in charge of implementing your campaign? Who are the actual staff members/consultants, and who has decision making authority?

4. What happens in case of a PR Disaster? It can happen to any company at any time, and you need a rock solid procedural plan for who and how you will deal with it when it comes. Making decisions on the fly will lead to possibly fatal missteps.

The moral of this rant? YOU NEED A PLAN. Public Relations is not something that should happen periodically – it needs to be part of your Business Plan every day of the year. Reacting to either good or negative press is NOT a PR plan. Creating your own message and having the channels to distribute that message IS.

If you don’t know how to do it, for God’s sake hire a Pro.

Starbucks is Smart to be Sorry

In the past few months PR Disasters have exploded all over the SocialMediasphere. Marketers/PR professionals have been fascinated by how often common sense seems to leave the building when a negative comment appears on a Brand’s profile.

Gini Dietrich has said repeatedly “There are 2 words that can fix the problem: I’m sorry.” Too often the Sorry is followed by a But:

But we have an explanation.
But really, how could you be offended?
But really, it’s YOUR fault.

Starbucks is too smart for that. I visited their Twitter feed recently and saw a long list of unabashed “I’m sorrys.”

“Sorry your drink wasn’t full.”

“Sorry your day was ruined.”

“Sorry your oatmeal wasn’t perfect.”

They even have a special customer service department to service Twitter complaints: twittercustomerservice@starbucks.com

They have absolutely NO PROBLEM admitting when they are wrong and apologizing. Their Social Media folks are genius.

Responding quickly to your customer’s disappointment, acknowledging your part and then helping to fix it: common sense genius! And like so much that I consider genius, it’s SIMPLE.

Makes you wonder why so many F500 companies with millions in marketing dollars haven’t figured it out yet. Large companies with MASSIVE budgets regularly blow it online when anything negative surfaces, and often they waft a small tropical storm into an all out PR hurricane with their blunders.

My advice is to follow one of the most brilliant branding companies known to man and simply apologize when you make a mistake. End of story.