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The Problem with PR

By: Phyllis Davis

The Problem With PR By Phyllis Davis | IICRC | July 2016 NewsletterCompanies spend an inordinate amount of money on public relations. Whether Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google Ads or some other PR strategy, the order of the day is to “market your business.” Imaging and reinventing are key components in capturing the imagination of an elusive or distracted consumer.

When sales go south because of some negative press, it is incumbent on the person assigned to PR to redirect the compass. Restoring customer confidence is an expensive, time-consuming process. The onus may fall on one person or an entire department but maintaining good PR is a company-wide mandate. It doesn’t matter whether you are the owner of a multi-truck operation or a technician out in the field, PR is everyone’s responsibility.

Certain PR issues can be truly devastating to your business if you’re not careful. You’ve likely been warned about avoiding certain topics with customers, either by your spouse, your mother or perhaps a friend: "No matter what, never discuss politics and religion on the job!"

It generally begins when casual conversation that leads to a lush path turns out to be quicksand.  The harder you try to extricate yourself and get back to the business at hand, the deeper you sink.  The entire PR budget would not be sufficient to assuage a client offended by these topics, no matter how well the job had been progressing.  

How, with all of your instruction and training did you allow yourself to be drawn into expressing an opinion on politics or religion? Was it a comment made by a TV newscaster that happened to be on? Did the customer make some offhanded comment to which you just as offhandedly responded?
 
Why has the friendly customer morphed into a bulged eye, vein-protruding creature from the deep? What do you do when there seems to be a mile of dirty floor between you and the door?

Given the current political climate, there are no moderate opinions.  Conversations can become explosive without notice, and once this happens, it’s difficult to restore rapport. When the topic turns to politics or religion, there is only one safety zone; a zipped lip.  Do not feel pressured to respond.  Allow silence to do its job.

As soon as practicable, distract with an up charge or advise the customer of a new service that is now available. The house may be a mansion but there is no room for politics and religion.

Remember, politics and religion are the bane of Public Relations.
 



Phyllis Davis provided venture capital to small business owners for over twenty-five years. She is an entrepreneur, a managing real estate broker and business consultant.  Ms. Davis served on the board of a local bank for thirty years.




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