Don’t Let Your Client Get in the Way of the Story

Your curser is hovering above the ‘Send’ button. You’ve checked your spelling, grammar—everything seems perfect. But take one more second before sending that next pitch and ask yourself: “what am I pitching; my client or a story?”

It may seem like a silly question but there is a difference between the two. A story is something that conveys information, ideas, emotion, and context in an original and engaging manner.

Your client, on the other hand—whether it’s a small startup, international corporation or nonprofit—is merely a provider of a product, service or idea. By itself, a company does not provide context or convey emotion.

As PR pros, we’re intimately involved in every aspect of our clients’ business. We’re in the tangle of every big announcement, but we’re also sitting shotgun during the day-to-day minutia. Having a 360 degree view of our clients and their respective industries is critical to being an effective practitioner.

But being that close to the action can have some adverse effects. One of them is tunnel vision. Sometimes, you can be so invested in ensuring your client’s success that you forget to consider the big picture: “what does this announcement mean to those who aren’t invested (financially or emotionally) in our company?” “How does this new product change or improve upon something that has already been done?”

To make others care about your client, you need to engage them with a pitch that conveys information, ideas, emotion and context.

So before you hit the “Send” button, just remember: You’re not pitching your client. You’re pitching a story. Your client just happens to be the main character.

Crisis Communication – How Important is it?

WOW! With everything that’s been going on lately; the Gulf Coast oil spill, the SeaWorld Orlando incident, etc.,  I have really been thinking about crisis communications and the importance of having a crisis communications plan in place for your company and/or clients.  Now, I know we never want to assume that something horrible is going to happen, but don’t they always say “expect the best, but prepare for the worst?”

So, how could you and your company prepare and plan for this? And what steps should you have in place?  Here is a quick and easy checklist of items that could help should the need ever arise:

Prior to the crisis:

·    Identify all areas in which your ‘crisis’ could be; financial loss, product issue, reputation loss, etc.

·    Designate a company spokesperson who will be the one to address the media during any crisis situation.

·   Have pre-drafted messages and company statements available for use if needed.  Also, have your company spokesperson aware and fluent on these messages.

·    Be aware of your communication channels and how you can effectively communicate your message to your employees, investors and the public.

During a crisis:

·    When communicating during a crisis,  always be quick , accurate, and consistent with your response.

·    Always communicate with your employees so they are aware of the actions you are taking and what the message is.

·    Never say ‘no comment’, as it implies you are hiding something.

·    Be prepared to do some reputation repair following a crisis.

This doesn’t cover it all, but it’s a start.  The bottom line is that during a crisis, or even before a crisis ever happens, you need to be prepared and you need to communicate.  This could be what sets you or your clients apart from the competition.