Is honesty the best policy?

August 5, 2010

 

Sitting around the dinner table last night my family and I were having a typical ‘solve the problems of the worlds’ conversation over a few glasses of red and the topic of respecting politicians came up.

Everyone around the table had some very valid points, but the one consensus that surfaced, regardless of political persuasion, age or gender, was that the Prime Minister of Australia should be referred to as just that, ‘Prime Minister’.

This may sound odd at first, but there have been several examples in recent media coverage, especially in interviews and even in the leader’s debate held a few weeks back, where political commentators are referring to the prime minister as Julia, or Ms Gillard.

The dialogue between politicians and members of the media seems to have evolved. There appears to be more banter, brazen comments, questions and innuendo, as well as moments of utter premeditated humiliation.

As the youngest member of last night’s ‘family’ debate it lead me to question whether politicians have bought this predicament upon themselves? Do they warrant as much respect as they used to, in the ‘good ol’ days’? I was quickly reminded of a time when slogans such as, ‘Keeping the bastards honest’ echoed throughout political campaigns.

My recollection of political history is obviously filtered through the views of my parents and elders so I don’t assume to have objectivity, but in this current political climate I can’t help but feel like the ‘strategies’ used by politicians in their media/political campaigns are so cautious, contrived and self-edited that it does breed a seed of resentment. Are we expected to just lap it up without question?

The same can be said in day-to-day PR campaigns not just political PR. Is it better to offer the public honesty and transparency and take a risk by humanising your organisation and making it somewhat vulnerable? Or do you play it safe and treat the public like the ignorant masses and assume they won’t question what they’re not told?

I would like to think there are still a majority of people out there that don’t take information on face value and that honesty in communication is paramount. There seems to be a focus on how you say it, rather than what you say these days- I think both are equally important.

I love it when I can put an Oscar Wilde quote in context, so let’s finish on this pearler… “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 – 1900)

@gillasbury

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All talk and no action!

June 4, 2010

So today I gained a true appreciation for my role as, wait for it…. Blog Champion! Often when I say those words a little trumpet fanfare plays in my head, and I feel like I have a duty to serve and protect the DRPR blog, but not today. Maybe it’s the dreary weather but my focus strayed from our company blog and I realised all too late that I had in fact neglected to organise this week’s post!

Now, I’m sure this is a common scenario when it comes to business blogs. Deadlines, heavy workloads and perhaps even after-work drinks often lead people to dismiss the company blog as a secondary task. But be warned, this is a slippery slope!

Like all social media tied into business public relations, it is consistent contributions that reap rewards. Why not make it part of your daily schedule? With morning coffee in hand, check your emails, diarise important dates and tasks, log in to Facebook, log in to Twitter and log in to your company blog. Perhaps wait ten minutes for the caffeine hit to take full affect, and then write a thought for the day. Try to think of something relevant to your industry, a special event happening within your company, an international or local news story that relates to your industry, or any relevant issue that has got you thinking. It’s that simple.

The more human the voice of your company sounds, the more standing it will have out there in the realms of social media. It is after all, about having open and transparent conversations, sharing information and ideas and getting your company name out there as a voice of authority, interest or even entertainment.

Also, remember that social media such as blogs and twitter are supposed to be fun! Don’t take it too seriously. But most importantly, in order to guarantee blogging success, put in place a very dedicated and conscientious blog champion, and make them accountable!

@gillasbury

– Gill


“I Work in PR and My Family and Friends Have No Idea What I Do”

May 20, 2010

 

With a following of more than 4,400, I assume this aptly titled facebook group is not just a tongue in cheek play at the supposed ignorant masses, but more of a cry of frustration from an embattled group of PR professionals! Ok, that may be slightly melodramatic.

Like all support groups (momentarily forgetting that I have never actually been a member of a support group – although something I might consider in future if my shoe collection keeps expanding at its current rate), I find it is important to share a qualm such as this with like minded individuals in order to gain understanding and formulate a workable solution. Or at the very least it gives us a sympathetic ear to whinge to.

To understand the frustrations of a PR professional all you need to do is put together a list of the people in your life such as friends, family and even clients at work, and it becomes obvious just how easily definable most peoples professions are.

Take for instance;

My parents are both teachers – simple. My brother in law is an engineer –another concise, one word answer to that loaded question, ‘what do you do?”. And out of my friends one is a lawyer, one’s a nurse, one is in sales, another’s a teacher- all one word responses with comprehensive connotations.

Now if I had a solid ten minutes to run people through what I do at work, and what I achieve, I’m sure they would be suitably impressed and possibly even emerge with a new found respect for Public Relations. Unfortunately this is not usually the context.

Scenario One:

“So what do you do for work?”

“I do PR, what do you do?”

“Oh great, my sister is a PA. Is your boss nice?”

sigh

Scenario Two:

Filling out forms at bank/post office/generally

“Profession: Public Relations”

“Is that like customer service?”

Yes, I work in a call centre.

Scenario Three:

“So, you said you do PR? Do you get free drinks when you do those alcohol promotions at the pub?”

Absolutely! Plus I get to wear a bright yellow, vinyl, cat suit with a beverage brand name across the front of it. Yep. That’s what I do at work every day.

You would think that as PR professionals we should all be able to explain what we do. We are highly skilled communicators, correct? We are articulate, literate, and great at conveying messages across different mediums. Talk about adding insult to injury.

All PR professionals are obviously different and work on different campaigns, clients and in differing contexts. Universally we deliver key messages for businesses, brands or individuals and give them the recognition they deserve when ‘telling their story’ as Dennis Rutzou, the founder of DRPR puts it so succinctly.

Maybe the solution to this pickle is quite simply an effective PR campaign for the PR industry?

As an aside, if you google “define:public relations” this is entry three:

“Public Relations” is the eleventh episode aired of the TV comedy series Arrested Development.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Relations_(Arrested_Development_episode)

An episode of a TV comedy series? Is there any wonder the general population is confused as to what PR is?

And Mum and Dad, just in case you’re still not sure…

Public relations is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation (or individual) and its (or their) publics. It’s the key to effective communication in all sectors of business, government, academic and not-for-profit.

PRIA website (www.pria.com.au)

Gill Asbury @gill1984