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Written by Jacci Pinson

“Everything you do or say is public relations.” – Unknown

If this is true, then why do many people view PR as an unnecessary, extra cost? Well, one reason could be that many companies have the “it could never happen to me” syndrome that is common in human nature. Now, this tactic is not all bad – it is what keeps us hopeful and willing to enter into risky situations. High risk means high reward, right? However, when it comes to your business and public relations, a business must ignore that instinct and prepare for the future.

According to the PRSA, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Hiring a Public Relations professional gives you the ability to control the narrative of your company and it makes sure your company’s vision and overall mission are being communicated for earned media. This allows a company to be ready for any potential crisis and to respond well if or when a crisis arises. PR companies can help solidify your brand and create a clear vision of where you want your brand to go and the impact you want it to have on the world.

Often, companies might think if they are small enough, they do not need to invest in a PR agency. However, if they are planning on growing their company in any way, hiring a PR firm becomes a necessary move.

Richard Branson said, “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”

In this age of social media, people can affect your brand and how people view your company from even just one single post. If the post is interesting enough, it can be circulated one million times before you are even able to say anything — and you have no control over the situation. Perhaps something went wrong or perhaps it was as simple as a miscommunication or someone just not “getting your brand.” No matter the issue, you need a PR professional to help navigate a world that is always quick to get their phone out and start recording.

Here are three examples of when professional PR helped a company in the entertainment and travel industries:

  1. Southwest Airlines + Serious PR

Southwest Airlines is well known for their commitment to customer service, experience, and excellent Public Relations outreach. 2018 was no exception, when Southwest experienced their first fatal inflight disaster. Flight 1380 was leaving from the New York-La Guardia airport when they realized engine failure in the plane and landed in Philadelphia, killing one person. This tragic disaster was immediately followed by Southwest providing all accommodations, taking full responsibility, providing trauma counseling, and doing everything to make sure the passengers needs were taken care of. Read more about the incident here.

Procter & Gamble + Tide Pods
Photo: found on USA TODAY

Remember when it was “trendy” to eat Tide pods? This is an excellent example of how a company can do everything it can to be ethical and responsible, but people still have the freedom to misuse a product, leaving you with “bad press.” Here is how Tide dealt with a disaster which was famously out of their control.

  1. Redcross + The Rogue Tweet

Good PR is important in even small crisis management. An example of this would be Red Cross and their rogue tweat in 2011. One of their social media workers had a Hootsuite mishap and she meant to post to her personal twitter account:

However, Red Cross dealt with it quite well and continued on the note of humor by posting:

Further, after this incident, Dogfish partnered with Red Cross to raise money and promote their brand.

It is important to realize when to take an issue very seriously and when to take a mistake and use it to your advantage. PR agencies can help you gauge an appropriate response to the crisis at hand. In this situation, hiring a PR agency could give your company a competitive advantage. This does not take away from the situation, but this helps the public realize that the company took responsibility.

2020 is the perfect year to get ahead of disasters, promote your company effectively, and focus on giving your customers reasons to trust your brand. Social media has no sign of slowing down anytime soon, so let us be ready to bring responsibility to our brand awareness strategies in this new decade.

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