Regular columnist Linda Donaldson is the founder of Geometry PR, established in 2001, and has grown the business to become one of the most respected agencies in the South West. She believes honesty is always the best policy.
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” must go down in history as one of the biggest barefaced lies of all time. The leader of the free world was not the first and certainly won’t be the last to publically apologise for his lack of honesty. Gibson, Woods, Grant, and now Armstrong are just a few of the “celebrities” who have followed Bill Clinton in choosing to indulge in the ritual of publically apologising on national TV; quite frankly it is all rather tiring.
While a good reputation takes time to build it is relatively quick to lose. Confessing a wrong in a bid to rebuild your reputation is a tricky business even with the help of even the most experienced PR practitioner. As PR professionals we are very often portrayed and negatively referred to as spin doctors particularly by the media, thanks in no small way to the manner in which our politicians stage manage their public communications. But spin implies deception and manipulation, a somewhat creative presentation of the facts. That is not what good PR is about. When you market any business the aim is usually, broadly, to communicate that you are a good company to do business with and for your customers to associate your company brand name with one of trust. While some may argue marketing is to an extent about convincing and persuading someone into action, it should still be about integrity and honesty rather than all smoke and mirrors.
Whether you are managing a crisis, lobbying for change, communicating a difficult message such as staff redundancies or simply raising awareness of a product or service, there is no need to abandon your ethics. If something happens under your direction which has a negative implication for a customer, supplier or a member of your team then communicating openly and truthfully is the key to beginning to manage the fall out.
Sorry is a powerful word and there are times it is necessary to publically apologise and admit you got it wrong, after all we can all make genuine mistakes at times, but it also provides an opportunity to communicate how you will right a wrong and ensure new processes and procedures are put in place to mitigate against the same thing happening again. Whatever your organisation – commercial, charitable, a school, or not for profit association – rarely can you be completely sheltered from a storm, but you can and should have a communications plan in place which will prepare your business and team to manage any future negative eventualities as they arise.
As PR practitioners it is important we uphold high standards particularly in media communications. Geometry PR is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the body that maintains professional standards in the industry. Members must follow a strict ethical code of conduct which ensures accountability in those in charge of the management of corporate reputations. Dealing honestly and fairly is at the heart of these standards, as is integrity – and these are values that all companies need to communicate if they are to cement a good reputation.
To find out more about Geometry PR visit their website at: www.geometrypr.co.uk or call 01225 422051
Follow Geometry PR on Twitter: @geometrypr
Pictured above: Linda Donaldson of Geometry PR