Bad public relations or PR is the nightmare of any organization. But what exactly is it?
Ma. Theresa “Tet” A. Defensor, corporate affairs manager of St. Luke’s Medical Center and a veteran PR practitioner, explains that if a good PR is doing something positive and telling the world about it, bad PR is the opposite.
“It’s all about sending the wrong message, therefore causing a decline in public trust,” Defensor explains. “The minute the public reacts negatively towards you, then that’s a sign that you are losing their trust.” [Find out how to effectively use Facebook, Twitter for your business here]
Like any crisis, bad PR is inevitable and cannot be attributed to just a single cause. It could hit an organization as a result of carelessness of its workers or owners.
Employees could have disclosed sensitive information to people they thought they could trust. As soon as such news gets out to people who are not involved in the organization, then no one has control over it.
In fortunate cases, this could fizzle out or become something relatively harmless. But it could also result in unforeseen events that could generate bad publicity. [See a five-step guide to zero marketing cost here]
“For businesses, bad PR could be a force of circumstance, in which case the business owner would have no choice but to live with it,” Defensor says.
For instance, when the Philippines was hit by the financial crisis in the 1990s, businesses could not tell the public that they were spared by the crisis because people would not believe them. What these businesses did was to think of ways to show the public that they were surviving amid difficult circumstances.
“Bad PR can also be deliberate especially during election season,” Defensor noted. “Some politicians are known to hire a team that can think of a million ways to discredit their competitor.”
Not everyone, however, has the budget to hire high-profile PR firms, Defensor shares some tips to counter bad PR on a budget:
1. Be your own Publicist.
As the owner of your business, you are its best spokesperson. You should know the ins and outs of your company so that you could answer questions that might arise during a crisis. [See four ways to get the media notice your business here]
2. Have an in-house PR staff.
PR work is 24/7, which is why hiring an agency costs an arm and a leg. Crises do not announce themselves; they usually do not give advance warning of their arrival. Just like soldiers, your PR team must be ready to respond quickly to any sign of problems.
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