I overheard a conversation of an evening out recently where a PR said words to the effect of: “If this goes wrong, my repuation with (insert event organisers here) will be up in smoke”.
What staggered me about the arrogance of this comment, was that the PR was putting their reputation ahead of the client’s, with scant regard for how the brand that they are doing the PR for will be perceived because of an error at their end. This really set me thinking about brands reputations worldwide and PRs reputations in the PR/media world.
The recently released Edelman Trust Barometer looks at how much consumers trust business, which, it seems, is not that much. Only 38% of the US respondents said they trust business to do the right thing — a 20% fall from 2007. Indeed, In the U.K, France, and Germany, trust in business stayed at just 36% among the 35-64-year-olds who make up the audience, from last year.
As I tell audiences over and over, Reputation and trust goes hand in hand together. Violate trust, damage reputation.
And this goes for PRs just as much as it does their clients.
The previously linked post at Freelance Switch underlines the importance of being a brand in yourself in PR:
You aren’t Madonna. You aren’t Rembrant. You aren’t Dan Kennedy. You aren’t Steve Jobs. And let’s be realistic – right now, you’re a freelancer trying to earn a living. That’s what counts.
Of course, your brand can certainly help you earn that living. You can be successful, yes. It’s also very easy to develop a personal brand – you are who you are, right? No act, no show, no required ‘brand policies’, no fear of slipup. Personal brands are easy to create, easy to promote and easy to keep up over time.
A personal brand also helps you in other ways. The more popular and famous you are, the more opportunities come your way. You want and need those opportunities, so you do have to have an image working for you.
I’ll repeat that: You need an image working for you – because you don’t want to be working for you forever.
But, this shouldn’t get in the way of the work you do for a client, it should enhance the work you’re doing and prove to the client that this is why they’ve chosen to work with you, and subsequently further develop your reputation as a PR.
As a PR, your reputation should grow as the work you do gets better, but not to a point where you believe that you are a superstar PR in your own right and that the client should bend to your every whim. PRs should be consultants and advising clients on what to do – duh that’s the point – but not if the advice is purely for personal gain.