Good PR is more than just a firm handshake

Public relations is an ongoing effort that should be integrated throughout your entire business, marketing and communications plans.

Many companies, even large ones, do not think about public relations until they are faced with a crisis. When that happens they are forced into bringing in the “spin doctors” to help them turn a disaster into something positive. A huge undertaking that can be very costly and in many cases not always successful.

Given what has been reported in the news over the past month about an automotive company’s nightmare and even with some election candidates, this seemed like a good time to write about the importance of having a good public relations (PR) plan.

Now there is a whole lot more to PR than smiling politely, shaking hands and handing out business cards. PR is an ongoing effort that should be integrated throughout your entire business, marketing and communications plans.

PR is many things but for the most part it is all about building awareness, creating interest, stimulating demand, reinforcing your brand and ensuring your name is recognized as a company worth doing business with. All of this does not happen with one campaign but must take place through an ongoing series of activities whose key message and actions must remain consistent and — as has been highlighted recently in the news — above reproach.

Like any other business strategy it is important to establish some key goals and clearly articulate how you are going to achieve them through a series of objectives. If you have not done so recently you need to dust off your strategic plan and take a good look at what you perceive to be the fundamental tenets of your business.

As always in developing any plan your first order of business is to identify who you want to reach or influence. Knowing who your key target group is will determine how you speak to them, what mediums they use for gathering information and most importantly what it is about your product or service that will be of greatest value to them.

In addition, there are other aspects of a PR plan that you need to develop such as focusing on your values. In a small community like the Comox Valley there are ample opportunities to meet with customers face to face in situations that are not necessarily directly related to sales. Sponsoring a community event, cultural activity, sporting event or becoming involved in a charitable or service-oriented organization all go towards building a positive impression of who you are and what you have to offer.

Public relations is all about your reputation. It is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. In this day and age of social awareness these attributes are the keys that will separate your reputation or business from everyone else.

The big caution here though, as some have found out rather harshly, is that you must ensure what you say or the actions you take will not come back and haunt you — either tomorrow or three years from now. One of the hardest things to do in life is to re-establish confidence in you and your business if you have committed a serious breach of trust with customers or the public.

If you don’t have a PR plan, now is the time to start giving some serious thought as to what you are going to do in order to manage how people view you and your business. While a firm handshake may be a start, there’s a whole lot more to building a good public relations strategy than words can ever say.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached at joesmith@shaw.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The platanthera dilatata is the fragrant white bog orchid whose perfume on a hot August day is one of the unforgettable delights of a summer hike in Strathcona Park. Photo supplied
Strathcona Wilderness Institute AGM upcoming

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI) will hold its 2021 annual general meeting… Continue reading

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Cumberland council is backing the business association again. File photo
Cumberland backs homeless veteran count

Briefs: Council continues support for business association

Courtenay Nissan’s Matthew Bourassa, Geoff Piper and Sean LaFleur join YANA’s Ashley Smith, Kelly Rusk and Lisa Wilcox for the 4x4x48 event to raise funds. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Courtenay Nissan eats and runs for YANA

Dealership realized non-profit groups need new ways to raise funds during COVID

Rev. Sulin Milne at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Comox is part of those helping distribute food to those in need within the town. Photo by Jim Peacock
Comox church serving the community with food through COVID-19

“We knew there were so many people who were facing economic challenges …”

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read