I put this question to you: Who are the original PR gurus? The experts with the knowledge, experience, and tried and tested guidance to steer you through tough times, questionable decisions and brand uncertainty? The specialists who best understand the importance of developing a strong public perception, the significance of social responsibility and the value of solid community relations?
When looking for an expert authority to dish out the staples of sound PR advice, look no further than the sages of childhood – mums and dads.
Who’d have thought that the cliché counsel of practical parents could provide solid foundations for a successful career in public relations? However, when you think about it, all the classic clues are there from the start.
Telling it like it is
Everyone knows, deep down, that when a parent dishes out tough love, it’s for the right reasons in the long run. The parental role of trusted advisor, with a ‘been there, done that, seen the outcome’ vision of life in the round is key to avoiding those unforgettable, poorly made decisions, that have the potential to deliver disappointing long-term results.
“You don’t want to hear this now, but believe me, it’ll be for the best in the end,” is the voice of experience; the tone of authority that’s been round the block on more than one occasion, and does, annoyingly, know what it’s talking about when guiding against ill thought out plans and dodgy tactics.
Have you checked you’ve got everything?
Preparation, preparation, preparation. Speaking to the press or taking part in an interview can result in the loss of public face or unintended representation if facts haven’t been properly checked, or key points prepared to stay ‘on message’. That attentive parent who primes their child with a list of dos and don’ts before an independent outing is the one with its offspring’s best interests at heart; who hopes their youngster will get the most out of the experience.
Be on your best behaviour
What parent wants their child to pick up a bad reputation? Shaking off the stigma associated with the conduct of ill manners and poor behaviour can be a contorting manoeuvre which doesn’t always work. When it comes to public image, effective creation, nurture and development is what our model parent would encourage, with full understanding that a bad rep sticks like the proverbial and can result in more than one door being closed. Far better to learn from the beginning, the importance of being a good fit with those around you, taking part, staying friendly and being someone others can rely on.
Share your things and play nicely
In this industry, it’s rare that the credit for a campaign’s success should be deservedly received by a single person alone. When it comes to a client’s PR strategy, press coverage, article or web content, the chances are that work has passed along more than one desk, and that insightful input and improved changes have been made along the way.
I think the best PR professionals adopt a cooperative approach, setting the egos to one side to help create balanced work with the potential to reach a little further and be heard a little clearer – something you can’t achieve if you’re not prepared to share.
In fact, it’s a win-win. Yes, you spilt the credit, but learning to share is a life-skill that pays, because when the coin falls the other way, and it isn’t praise you’re receiving this time, you’ve the support of your team to get through the fallout.
Honesty is the best policy
Some learn quickly, some slowly, but the parental lesson remains the same – a lie catches up with you in the end. Worse, the punishment from mum and dad for that lie is most likely worse than any potential reprimand for the original misdemeanour. Relate this to PR, and our grown-up pro will take the experience of childhood to not only admit when they are wrong, but guide clients towards honesty and transparency across all areas of good corporate communications. Stay truthful and earn trust. In terms of parental advice, that is pure gold.