In addition to yesterday’s epiphany, there are several others I’d like to share with you as we all work together as communications professionals seeking to achieve effective communications in good times and in bad.
I had a huge epiphany when I realized how undervalued communications is in most institutions and companies. You are an expert at what you do, but you are undervalued in your workplace. Yet in your heart, in your head and in your gut you know there is a high value to effective communications.
While many of you can be considered an expert in the broad areas of public relations, my area of expertise is narrowly defined in crisis communications plans and media interview skills. Crisis communications and media interviews are even more undervalued than broader areas of public relations that the vast majority of you practice. And while strides have been made to measure the effectiveness and ROI of public relations to a brand, the reality is it is still undervalued. Many companies don’t want to spend the money to measure something they don’t believe in anyway.
The reason in part goes back to yesterday’s epiphany based on personality types and personality profiles. Many people who hold executive positions in companies come from an analytical and process oriented background, such as accounting or engineering. These personality types want everything quantified. But the reality is that in public relations many of you have seen enough case studies to know how to do what we do, the right way.
Yesterday I introduced you to the King’s Cake, so let’s use this as a metaphor. The cake has a small plastic baby. You hide the baby in the cake. Then people in the office cut slices. If your slice has the doll then you must buy a cake and bring it to the office tomorrow. Based on my experience as a New Orleanian, I can safely predict that someone will get the doll. For me, previous case studies are proof enough.
But an analytical person may undervalue my base assumption and want to have statistics to back up my belief. They may even want to establish probabilities of which color icing is most frequently sliced first, or whether people most frequently cut in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, or even whether the baby is most frequently hidden under a specific color of icing. And the people who think like that will completely undervalue my assumptions, regardless of my vast experience as a King’s Cake expert.
Everyday you fight a battle against executives who will spend money to promote and market a brand because they expect it to achieve a return on investment for both reputation and revenue. Yet most are in denial about how quickly they can see their brand reputation and revenue destroyed by a crisis or even a poorly worded quote to a reporter.
Today’s revelation is that we are undervalued and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Yet your job is to do your best and keep striving to make your case that PR on a good day and PR on a bad day are great ways to protect the brand’s reputation and revenue.
I value what you do. Keep doing it and do it well.
By Gerard Braud