Readers: My students have told me one of their favorite “PR Nation” posts was written for Valentine’s Day in 2013. I’m continuing a tradition of updating and re-posting it each year. Enjoy!
“When a person brings pretty flowers to a date, that’s good public relations.”
When we attempt to define public relations, we can agree that good PR strategies seek to accomplish one of three responses: to create attitudes, to reinforce attitudes, or to change attitudes. Well, isn’t that what dating is all about, too?
Consider matchmaking, set-ups and online dating, for example. People create profiles–similar to a PR practitioners’ backgrounders–to describe their personal and professional status. When one senses a potential match he or she contacts the other, usually with a clever, enticing note–in effect, a pitch letter. If the pitch works, a first meeting may take place at a mutually selected venue. These early get-togethers involve planning significant events for which schedules are coordinated, clothing is selected, and grooming is completed so the presentations (dates) go well.
As the relationship takes root, networking begins, first with friends and then with family. Each action is designed to create positive attitudes among the couple’s various publics. The following weeks and months will contain acts of caring and kindness, sharing of new experiences, and efforts to compromise when necessary. As in social media, there will be likes, shares, interaction, and even occasional analytics. This, like PR, is done to reinforce positive attitudes.
Eventually, a crisis may occur. Someone says or does something wrong or hurtful, and then an all-out effort is made to change negative attitudes. Various reputation management tools must be used if there’s any chance of success. This may include providing flowers and apologies. After the crisis is over, favorable behaviors must be sustained because, as we know, good PR is more than just clever words or nice appearances. Maintaining consent from your publics must be supported by consistent, positive performance.
So on this Valentine’s Day, remember that when your date brings you a gift or flowers, that’s good PR. And, more importantly, if your date brings flowers for your mother, that’s superb PR. Your thoughts?