“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations,”

~ Bill Gates

Jim was visiting a foreign country. He was walking leisurely on a nearly empty street. When he passed a store, he saw to his horror a fierce Rottweiler attacking a baby. Without a moment’s hesitation, Jim rushed forward, grabbed the dog with his bare hands, and wrestled it to the ground. After several bloody and terrifying minutes, Jim managed to kill the beast and rescue the child.

Jim was bleeding. People, who gathered by then, took him to a nearby hospital. Later that day, a city reporter came to the hospital and met Jim to report what had happened. When he learnt about Jim’s brave and selfless act, he exclaimed: “What a story!”. Even the title for the story flashed in his mind: “Local Hero Saves Child”.

But the reporter came to know that Jim was just visiting the city, and not a local.
The reporter thought that the story is even more interesting. He only had to change the title to:
“Visitor Risks Life to Save Child”.

Finally, before leaving, the reporter asked: “By the way, what do you do Mr Jim?”
Jim replied: “I am the chairman of a listed company.”
The journalist noted down and left.

The next day the story appeared with the title:
“Corporate Fat Cat Strangles Family Pet to Death”.

Nowadays relations between media and corporates are not something great to write home about. Journalists don’t believe what companies say. The bigger issue is that people do not believe what is reported. This affects public relations building.

We all want public relations – because public relations brings us new customers, new investors, new employees, new partners, and so on. But we end up killing public relations when we pay too much attention to public relations at the cost of customer relations, investor relations, employee relations, and community relations.

Public relations can save startups, grownups, granddaddies of all industries from failure. It is the first and only button to press when things go wrong. But it is often the only button that never gets pressed – at least not in the right way.

We can rescue our business and put them back on the growth trajectory. It all begins with the clear understanding that what we are doing in the name of business is building relationships.
Mr Roger Dickhout, a management consultant, explains this aspect in this thought provoking article he wrote for McKinsey years ago.

He says that the role of business is about maintaining “Constituent Balance”. “When the constituent interests (interests of shareholders, employees, customers, communities, etc) are out of balance in a large corporation, the gloves come off as shareholder groups rebel against complacent management, or customers punish a company for poor quality,” he writes. The way to bring back the balance is by maintaining good relationship with all the constituents – which is what is the means and ends of true public relations.

The role of leadership in the words of Roger is to maintain constituent balance by making sure that “customers are satisfied, talent and investment flow in, and management, employees, and shareholders feel adequately rewarded.” If this is what leadership in business is all about, then our working hours should be considered public relations hours. Sankar, Management Author and Consultant.


How to combat fake news through PR

How to combat fake news through PR

Today fake news is on the rise. The reason being that news sources today are no longer exclusively the mass media but social media too. Mass Media has always had gatekeepers like Editors and Publishers who do take the effort to verify the credibility of news. Social Media though is a completely different ball game. Facebook and Twitter have played a big role in the dissemination of fake news. Watzapp forwards too have become a menace when it comes to passing around fake news.

What is fake news?

Fake news can be defined as blatantly false or misleadingly exaggerated information presented as true through a trustworthy media source. It’s very easy and cheap to create fake news and distribute it through social media. Many of these go viral and in many ways unfairly damage the reputations of people brands and organisations.  It can be so powerful that it can damage the image, lead to a drop in sales or even destroy the brand.

How can PR combat fake news?

Keep your eyes open for fake news about your brand or organisation, at the first signs of it, work must be undertaken on a war footing to stop its spread.  Immediately, get into damage control mode and provide timely and accurate information through PR. Have an identifiable source.

Tell the truth

The most powerful armour that you have to combat fake news is the truth. Be transparent. Provide facts to back up what you say. Craft a clear message without being ambiguous and keep the channel of information flowing. Appoint a one point contact inside the organization that the media can reach.

Create the right team

Stemming the flow of fake news is also about sending the right kind of signals and right news out. Form a team of responsible thinkers who can handle this and put in the right kind of thought process.

Fight it with fire

Create powerful releases and keep regularly releasing them. Try and create something sensational so that gets into the news. Speed is of essence, so don’t hesitate, the minute fake news hits the brand, fire the cannons. How your write the release is also important, use straightforward headlines and simple language that conveys the content quickly and effectively.

Have a crisis plan in place

It always helps for brands to be prepared for crisis. There must be a kind of scale crafted to assess the impact – moderate to severe and different plans to deal with each contingency. Being prepared always works the best.

Use technology

Facebook has a feature that allows alerting objectionable news. Ask as many users as possible to do this and it could help get the offensive post taken down.  Getting the brand’s FB page to be a verified one goes a long way in helping disseminate proper news.

Keep your ear to the ground. Build a good network in the media and among others in different walks of life. This will help you sniff out fake news faster and react quicker.  Use these valuable tips to weed out fake news and bring back the trust factor to your brand.

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