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Admittedly, I mostly coordinate “Happy PR.” I’ve helped some crisis teams but that’s not my main service, nor my absolute favorite thing to do. I LOVE helping people with Community Relations. Participating or hosting events, coordinating activities with schoolchildren of all ages, collecting items for a charity, all the media relations that can come from these events, and so many other endeavors are my favorite projects. 

I fully understand that my clients see me as bringing optimism and happiness while we build a better community and they don’t think I want to know about the bad stuff. 

But guess what? 

I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BAD STUFF!!

If you don’t disclose what else is going on in your company, you are lying by omission and your PR rep (Me) cannot do her job effectively without knowing the entire climate of your organization, especially as it pertains to the assignment. 

And, by the way, the time to talk about the bad stuff is not five minutes before a reporter is coming to visit you at my request. 

Not divulging who these clients were or the exact details, I have been kept in the dark about the situations below. I have learned this information sometimes with a reporter on the way, as I mention above, and sometimes I have been let in on the secret after the bad news has been solved without me. It felt like someone was explaining that they had dismantled a bomb under my bed that I did not know was there. 

  • Unethical practices by the president of a membership association leading to another member filing suit;
  • A former employee was suing my client for some major human resources violations;
  • A child died at a previous event similar to the one we were coordinating together;
  • The potential client made unsubstantiated claims about a product because they thought no one would check;
    • There was literally a YouTube video with several thousand views proving the potential client’s claims were not accurate. 
    • Thankfully, I found the video before I started working for them. They shrugged off the claims as vicious lies, but would not sue for defamation. The video was correct and they were guilty as charged. I never worked with them.

What’s Your Intention? 

If the client thought they were hiring me to counteract a negative incident, then let me know that’s what I’m being hired to do. False claims do get lodged against companies and I can help you address that and create some talking points around it, preferably before we decide that a press conference is what we need. 

I know people

I’ve been doing this for a long time. If your issue is above my expertise, I have my own A-Team of highly experienced specialists to bring in or just outright refer you to them, no problem! 

I’m not saying I want clients with major secrets, but if you have them, disclose them. Keeping secrets is not a good way to create a relationship. Your PR person is THE person to help you navigate through rough terrain. DO NOT keep them in the dark! 

Keep your business dealings clean and ethical and then there will be no weird secrets to keep. In Laws of Promotion, this is the third of Newton’s principles that apply to your business and the art of promoting it: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

Do good things with great intensity. 

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She is the author of  Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits iavailable now on Amazon. Reach out with your questions about marketing and PR to be addressed in this blog.

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