Too often people make the mistake of misunderstanding PR and brand management. They think that the way to build a good reputation is to spin stories, put on flashy events or create PR stunts. But if those techniques ever worked to cover up shoddy service and poor products (I'm not convinced they did), they definitely don't now.
Organisations are more visible and transparent than ever. Customers will have their say in public through social media and if your business is offering a sub-standard product or service, people will soon find out about it or worse, your customers will celebrate and turn to your competitors and ignore you.
Now, to have a great reputation, your organisation actually has to be great.
This is a view that management guru Tom Peters shares. When talking about managing personal brands, he tweeted:
I think this approach is equally relevant for organisations. But it does beg the question, what is the role of PR in making an organisation great?
For me it comes down to two things.
1. I think it is our role to help the business understand the link between the decisions and actions it takes and the impact on reputation. If the PR function is in the room when decisions are taken and those decisions will be smarter and more robust as a result.
2. PR practitioners need to trace back through the organisation to find out what is influencing the success (or lack of) of the business and then seek to have a positive impact on that area. My view is that area is always how engaged employees feel in the purpose and direction of the business. The levels of employee engagement in an organisation are intrinsic to its success.
Brand management is not about spin; at its core it's about employee engagement.