A leopard never changes its spots. Once a joker, always a joker. Don’t play with fire, you will always get burnt. Cheats never prosper. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Our daily language is full of idioms and phrases that are based on the premise that once you have a certain reputation, you will never change.
Reputation is at the core of how individuals, communities, companies, and governments are perceived. Schools and universities attract the best teachers and the best students based on their reputation. Countries with a reputation for fair and equitable practices attract the most investment and tourism. Companies with a good reputation not only retain the best employees but also secure more customers.
Public Relations is all about building a reputation. Connecting with the audiences or the public in a relevant and memorable way. Finding the right message, the right tone, and the right channels to make that happen is the relationship side of our business. Reputation is built on the quality of relationships, and quality relationships always benefit both parties.
Often, the first time we hear from a company is when they are under attack or have an issue that has entered the public domain. They are understandably worried about how this will affect their business and ask us to assist them in managing the problem. Of course, if we can, we will help them. However, there is never a silver bullet that you can fire that will make it all better. No brown envelope of currency that will buy you out of trouble. Remember, this is your reputation and you only get one of those.
Reputation is built over time and like all good relationships, requires work and commitment. Even in the good times, it is important to establish and reinforce what you stand for and the good that you’re offering to individuals, communities, industry and the economy. Consistent, regular messages, as well as an open dialogue with your audiences, will develop the foundation of your relationship and your reputation. The more concerted effort you put into building this, the stronger your reputation will be. And the better your reputation, the easier it is to navigate your way through any issues that you may encounter as you come from a place of established strength and well-founded support.
Public Relations is so much more than crisis management. It is a long term, strategic, deliberate approach to building powerful relationships that ensure that your reputation not only protects you but tangibly supports your business objectives.