Today, I’m calling on my peers in the public relations industry to help me save our industry. If you’re interested, get in touch on +1 647.773.2677 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your industry needs you!
After 2 months in rehab, Rob Ford faced the media to explain what everybody already knows – that he has substance abuse issues and has started treatment. He fell in to the trap that so many entrepreneurs fall into when talking to the media: shamelessly pitching rather than answering questions.
It was Ford’s first formal appearance since he took a leave of absence to get professional treatment. He acknowledged that he had been at a Muskoka-area facility undergoing, what he described as ‘intensive’ therapy. He says he has nobody else to blame, apologized to his family, the people of Toronto, Karen Stintz. Ford also said that he wasn’t asking for forgiveness from the media – some of whom he had not invited to the press conference – and said that some of the ‘associations’ that had been the focus of many of the media reports over the last year had ended.
Ford also talked about addiction being a disease and that everybody knows somebody who suffers. Rob wants us to believe he’s an average guy; average guys make mistakes, right? They can be forgiven, can’t they?!
And, it might have been OK had he left it there. Had he taken questions from reporters. Offered contrite, honest answers. People might have respected him for that. But he did neither. Ford, like so many entrepreneurs, just can’t resist himself. The media is like, dare I say it, a drug. Ford, never wanting to miss an opportunity to pitch his credentials turned from contrition to campaigning mode on a dime.
Having said his piece, rather than leaving the stage Ford was back to the politician we knew pre-rehab. Once again – he talked about this record – taxpayers dollars, garbage and the unions all featuring – and how he intends to serve as Mayor for ‘many more years’ to come.
Let there be no doubt Ford was using this speech to restart his reelection campaign. He just couldn’t resist it. And, as happens so many times with conversation isn’t about you, it’s about me. It’s about what I want to say; what I want you to publish; it’s about my agenda, not yours. It’s also why everything that was said before the pitch will be forgotten, questioned or disbelieved.
Sometimes dealing with the media is about knowing when to stop.
Read more about Rob Ford’s PR and Media ‘Strategies’
This infographic from PR Newswire Association is doing the social media rounds this morning. The company asked PR professionals the question, ‘PR is…’ and these are some of the responses they received. If you’re a marketeer buying public relations services it makes for worrying reading.
Do you know what the right answer is?
Copyright 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.
I don’t usually read industry magazines or websites, but today I made an exception. I should know better. Two articles on Ragan’s PR Daily caught my attention. The first, by Nicole Rose Dion is called 10 mistakes and the lessons learned from the PR world. If you work in PR and this is how you run your client accounts then you need to go do something else.
Some of Ms. Dion’s “mistakes”, (in addition to writing this article), include:
- “… admitting [to a client] to a mistake in an email”. Nicole suggests talking to the client about it on the telephone because, “You never want to give your client or contact hard (written) evidence to use against you.”. If your client relationship is so fragile that you can’t own up to a mistake, and worry that by admitting it you give them ammunition to fire you down the line then you really shouldn’t be working with them.
Lesson learned: Honesty counts for everything in a client/agency relationship – on both sides. Owning up to a mistake and explaining how you’re going to fix it is, in my book, always preferable to having a ‘quiet chat’ that can be denied if necessary.
- You tried to help. Nicole’s lesson learned is “No matter what your intentions, don’t try to help in a situation when you don’t have to.” She advocates you “let it go” if a journalist or client is “having a meltdown or is complaining to your coworker about something and you think you can help”. Either that, or letting your boss deal with the problem.
Lesson learned: Understanding the cause of the “meltdown” is critical. It’s the only way it can be resolved quickly and to the satisfaction of the client. It’s worth noting that my advice is actually to take steps to avoid the problem in the first place, but simply passing the buck to a colleague or boss won’t do anything for your long-term credibility with the client or journalist. I know my approach is old-fashioned, but it’s also effective.
- You didn’t BCC people in a mass email.
Lesson learned: If you can’t work Outlook then you really shouldn’t be allowed near a computer let alone working in PR. HR failed if you can’t, and they let you!
- You sent your client your media list. Nicole suggests this is a bad idea for two reasons. They might start contacting journalists, or you both might end up looking stupid if you contact the same person.
The second article that caught my eye today is called 7 Signs your PR efforts need a reboot by Dorothy Crenshaw, one of PR Week’s 100 Most Powerful Women. But, more about that later!!