In an era of fake news and white lies, the last thing people might think of to right the ship is good public relations. Often synonymous with “spin,” PR has gotten a bad rap. Olivia Pope’s sometimes questionable approach – and even more questionable associates – presents a scandalized (see what I did there?) view of PR and the role it plays in our politics, economics and popular culture. Here’s why public relations might be the best hope for restoring trust in our businesses, news outlets and world leaders.
PR takes the time to know its audience
Understanding the audience demographic we are trying to reach is ground zero for developing a strategy to communicate with them in a way that is engaging. Knowing what, when and how to share it is the result of research at which PR professionals are adept (or have cultivated strong instincts for). Should your CEO make public his or her personal opinions on social, political and environmental issues? If you are courting Millennials, yes, it’s important according to a KRC Research and Weber Shandwick report. For other generational cohorts, not so much. A Boomer or Gen X’er is not as concerned with a CEO’s personal beliefs as they are with corporate leadership and results. It’s not about whether to shine a spotlight on or obscure personal views, it’s about knowing what’s important to the audience and providing THAT information.
Plain talk is straight talk
Keeping it simple is not dumbing down a message. PR professionals are experts in working with experts. The most brilliant minds in their fields have information to share that is amazing, next generation, alternate level stuff. Stuff that you and I will likely never understand unless a PR professional is able to substitute language, effectively draw comparisons and otherwise translate genius-speak into something we can appreciate.
Tell the truth…the whole truth
Contrary to popular belief, truth-telling is the absolute ethical standard in public relations. We help organizations, businesses, and individuals manage a crisis and their reputations with honest, transparent communications. When Chartwell represents a client for a crisis communication, we are constant advocates for clear communication, taking immediate responsibility and sharing all that you can (even as our friends in the legal department advise against it). Public relations places value on doing the right thing, because the right thing is what builds relationships. There’s huge risks to half-truths and lies, and the truth has a funny way of always coming out in the end.
Restoring the public’s trust in our institutions – both private and public – should be the top of everyone’s list. And good PR knows how to provide the information people find valuable, make that information accessible and champion truth and integrity in the process.