Monday, January 22, 2018

When Bad PR Happens to Good People

Most people don’t understand the amount of work and research that goes into a PR campaign. They think you pick up the phone, call a friend, and national news happen.  You know that going in, that very few people truly understand how much analysis and planning goes into creating a campaign that will stick.

And with the wide variety of tools now available that let people connect their message to others including the media, you accept that some – even many – will go off and try and engage the media and the rest of the world in their issue, brand or story before they’ve done the work, even before they understand the real lay of the land.

This is especially true in the social entrepreneur and not for profit space and anywhere where big-hearted people are tackling important issues, issues they can’t imagine anyone not seeing the value of.

And that’s when things go terribly wrong.

It pains me to see really good people going off on bad PR campaigns simply because they don’t know what they’re doing. “How hard could it be?,” they ask. And then they find out when not only do they not get any traction but they’ve made themselves dismissible with the very people who could have helped them. That’s when they start throwing out words like “conspiracy” and think the media is too scared to touch the story.

Nope. The truth is a whole lot more simple. A hyperbole filled blog laced with emotional slings and arrows but lacking factual evidence will get you labled as a crank, not turn you into a local hero.  A credibly presented, evidence based argument with dignified spokespeople who have poignant stories and can tell them well? That works. It’s harder to create. But well worth it in the end.

The first approach is easy, lazy even. It’s also damaging to your brand. The second takes a lot more work. But it’s effective. And authentic. And that should be the jumping off point, not where you hope to get to after you’ve burned your bridges and have to rebuild a campaign that lies in ruins.

It breaks my heart when bad PR happens to good people. It happens because they usually don’t know any better. And it can end up costing them everything they were fighting for in the first place.

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