When you do good, let others tell your story.
There is a far bigger story behind any good deed you do as a business, as a government department, as a country or as an individual. Everything we do, either good or bad, has ripple effects.
There is nothing more advertorial and non-engaging than a good chest beating or a “community” back slap whether you’re a business, NGO or Government organisation.
Too many “brands” (businesses, countries, not-for-profits) flood the broadcast channels available to them with what they call – without necessarily being so – “news”:
- “We are thrilled to have sold two screws”
- “We are absolutely humbled to have won this award that no one has ever heard of”
- “We have reached a significant milestone: we have filled a collection box”
- “We have rebranded ourselves – we are no longer called “PR” but “Public Relations”
- “We are so close to painting the front gates!” etc.
I’m sure you got the idea by now. What are the lessons you can learn from the examples above?
1. Is it “news”?
If it’s news to you, it does not mean it is news to your readers/subscribers/buyers/users or social media followers.
For any piece of news to resonate with your publics and stakeholders, you must set it into context: what does it mean? How will it change (for better or for worse) how you do business? How does it affect your stakeholders and why have you done it?
2.Can you prove it?
When you make investments in various economy sectors here or overseas, provide vaccines or essential nourishment (I’m looking at you, NGOs and charities), let your investees/beneficiaries tell your story – bragging about what you do is far less powerful than having those who directly benefited from your services/products say it!
Many organisations are finding their “social purpose” today. Some have found it because they genuinely want to support various causes, others found it because it makes them look good and follow the “trend”.
Regardless of the reasons why, significant visibility and brand awareness opportunities are being missed constantly.
Today, all Public Relations actions should be about being savvy, about having that extra edge over your competitors, about making your publics “tick”.
If you say that your business has donated 20 blankets (hypothetical scenario) to a certain homeless charity, my questions back to you (as a sceptical member of the public) would be:
- Why blankets and not a room for the night?
- Why blankets and not food?
- How do you know the blankets have reached the people who need them?
- Who decides who gets a blanket?
- Did your blankets make a difference?
Pragmatism and scepticism are very healthy traits to have in PR – at all levels, not just “at the top”. As such, if you want to demonstrate initiative, value and forward thinking, this is how you would maximise the brand awareness and social “commitment” of your organisation (hypothetical example):
- Follow the “blanket”
- Interview the recipient
- Show that it made a difference
- Let them say what that “blanket” meant to them
There is an almost infinite number of variations to my very basic “blanket” example – it’s not about campaigns, it’s not about advertorials, nor is it about bragging.
It’s about positioning what your organisation does and the impact that it has.
For instance, let’s say you created 20 jobs – that’s beautiful and noble but that shouldn’t be the end of “the story”, just its first line! It’s because you created 20 jobs:
- 3 kids can now afford to do XYZ,
- 4 families no longer need to depend on the food bank,
- 20 people were taken off (ideally) unemployment benefits and given a new boost in terms of their self-worth,
- the local village shop will no longer be faced with bankruptcy because now those 20 families can afford to shop there etc.
Almost every business activity today can be turned into a newsworthy piece providing you touch on the right points, highlight its various impacts and, most of all, let others tell your story for you – nothing more powerful than actual impact-driven endorsements in a world that’s full of self-praise.