13 Jun It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s What Others Hear.
As Your PR Partner, We’re Both Promoter and Protector.
PR tactics that distract and spin usually exacerbate reputation challenges – not resolve them.
As an agency partner to our clients, we work very hard to understand your target audiences. We get to know your constituencies – the people with whom you do business, and those whose support is critical to your ability to conduct business. We learn who they are, what they care about, how and when they consume information, the ways in which they engage with your organization and – most importantly – the foundations upon which your relationships with them are based.
At the same time, we get to know you – not just what you do, but how and why you do it. We get to know the pieces that come together to drive your business: your management team, sales and marketing and those who make it happen on the front lines. We dig deep, exploring beneath the surface so that we become fully immersed in your organization’s culture, values and personality.
We need to reach the point where we can tell your story as it were our own and to see things through your perspective. At the same time, we develop a deep empathy for your target audiences. This is where the fun happens; our teams mesh. We develop strategies that support your goal, craft the messages and come up with creative ways to convey those messages. We get to show you our best work. We’re all working together.
Behind the scenes, however, we’re doing a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine. While we were getting to know your constituencies, we were also studying your competitors, critics, detractors and adversaries.
We’re not sleeping with the enemy, but we listen to their pillow talk. Just as with your target constituencies, we’ll develop a deep understanding. Why? Because, as your PR agency, we have a responsibility to both promote and protect. That requires understanding how your competitors, critics and adversaries will perceive your messages and, more importantly, how they might respond. This is especially critical with the instantaneous point-counterpoint of social media and the echo chambers of self-selected information sources.
This situational analysis we perform also ensures that the timing of your message is right. A good message at a bad time is ineffective, or worse: it could elevate negative conversations.
Managing skewed public perceptions and alternative facts can be less fun. It gets uncomfortable recognizing the mean and nasty things others have said about you – online or at the bar. But they must be recognized and added to the perception pool.
Audiences, including media, look for any opportunity to twist your story into the story they want to tell. They’ll filter your message through their agenda to fulfill their preconceptions.
This is where we so often hear: “That’s not what we’re saying.”
But it is what they’ll hear – and how they’ll repeat and report it. Think of it as the consequence of unintended communication, counter-messaging that distracts from your positive story. As your promoter, we’re on the front line. As your protector, we’re also defending your flank.
PR professional Bridget Paverd is a founding partner at GillespieHall. The firm is retained by global companies to manage their reputation and relevance. A recognized crisis communication specialist, Paverd’s first foray into PR was at 9, when she rallied fellow students into changing the lunch menu. Paverd has been influencing minds and opinions ever since. Paverd also teaches crisis media management at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.