My business specialises within the care sector, so more than ever you can appreciate why when I was asked ‘what could be worse than bad PR?’ I felt I had to set the record straight – once and for all so please remember my words – No PR is worse than bad PR!
make a place for PR at your board table or ignore it at your own peril!
This isn’t specific to the care sector, it’s the same for any business or organisation; large or small. PR should be embraced as an essential operational function of a business – I’ll go the whole hog and say make a place for PR at your board table or ignore it at your own peril!
Reputation is the foundation of good PR and can pay dividends if you ever find your company in a bad PR situation.
Reputation is the foundation of good PR and can pay dividends if you ever find your company in a bad PR situation
I use an example when discussing reputation with clients. The story is about a case of physical abuse within a care home where an elderly resident is dragged on the floor because they can’t stand up after a fall. The article makes your blood boil as you read about the so-called carer abusing the resident in an attempt to exert her will and make the individual stand up and sit in a chair. Do you think this care home will ever develop a good reputation after this? Absolutely not!
Do not be fooled into thinking a crack team of crisis PR specialists will turn this situation around. The damage is done.
But what if this story isn’t accurate; there are two sides after all. What if a disgruntled family member or employee decided to embellish what was a simple accident? Maybe the resident in question has dementia and misjudged the distance of the seat, resulting in a fall? What if the carer went to help but didn’t have the strength to aid the resident’s mobility and in the kerfuffle they were inadvertently dragged?
Unfortunately my example is in fact a true story, it is a case of bad care provision and management, but if it wasn’t and this company had become victims of malicious intent could the situation be different? Absolutely but the key is to communicate reputation proactively not reactively. Communicate what it is good about what you do, how you do it and when you do it to the people that matter – in this case the local press, local community and care workers and residents’ families. I call it ‘building your bank of goodwill’. This is called developing your positioning and message to market. Reaching and influencing your core audience develops reputation and understanding, which develops positive relationships and loyal customers.
So given what we now know do we think our side of the story will now be heard and believed? Absolutely, your core audience is now one of your greatest allies. Don’t underestimate the power of PR, it could be the difference between a good or bad reputation.
Founder and owner of Chew PR, Colette has worked in PR for over 15 years. She has seen both sides and worked for consultancy and in-house teams providing her with an insight not many see. Colette will be contributing to the Public Relations section. Wakefield. England.