A Lesson in PR… Not All Advice Is Good Advice

In today’s world people from pop stars to the boardroom executive try to control what others perceive of them. This not only goes for people, but also for places, brands, and so on. Would it be unreasonable for one to estimate that politicians would have some of the keenest instincts on public perception. Would it be crazy to imagine that they knowing how anything can be turned into a negative from a positive faster than a nano second ( I’m not sure if a sound bite is even that long) that they of all of us would understand this, and would display skills that one would envy?

Across the headlines for the last few weeks we had a disgraced Congressman. His downfall was not entirely his actual deeds, but more or less his handling of the matter. For anyone who followed this train wreck that was splashed across both national, and international media outlets, it seemed although his acts were tawdry, it was more on how he tried to handle his PR. (public relations) Not only was it horrific, it seemed he was trying to demonstrate “The Lesson” in what not to do. I would have to guess somewhere, someone was giving him advice, and by that I mean paid advice. Can anyone imagine a politician doing something without asking a paid adviser “How will this poll?” I can’t.  One might also think he was a person of limited resources, and probably couldn’t afford better advisers, and that would be a fair point. So to quote Emeril LaGasse “Let’s kick it up a notch!”

All this month reports on the economy have been dismal. A problem for any politician is the reports are a direct reflection on their handling of the matters at hand. Doesn’t matter if you agree to the fairness of the charges, public perception is the reality for the people at the top. Doesn’t matter if they hold the title CEO or Mr. President. So let me repeat again…perception is reality! So why one might ask would anyone with the resources to have the worlds best advisers allow themselves to not only be caught looking like they were out of touch, but actually promoting it!

Just imagine yourself seated in any boardroom as someone rolls off these bullet points.

  • Sales are off much more than anticipated. Not only are they down but they are showing further declines with no signs of rebounding.
  • Our competitors are gaining market share at such speed that they are negotiating better terms with our suppliers than we can.
  • Our bank has notified us that they are reducing our lines of credit, and they are looking to increase our debt service charge in 90 days.
  • We have just been notified the loans on our hard assets have been acquired by our largest competitor because the banks that previously held them has since been liquidated for being insolvent.
  • Operating expenses such as utilities, fuel, and inventory supplies are rising with seemingly no end in sight.
  • Workers at all our facilities are uneasy, and fear layoffs or worse. The over-riding theme when employees are asked is the response of, “I feel they are out of touch at the top.”

So with this broad overview someone in a perfectly tailored suit gets up, pulls out a laser pointer, asks for the lights to be dimmed, and states the following as the Powerpoint® presentation roars to life…

“What will quell the frustration, and fears throughout both the company, and our valued customers is…wait for it….a GOLF OUTING!” Yes ladies, and gentlemen there is nothing that says business to the common man as the top executives playing a round of golf. What we’ll do is have the CEO, the COO, along with the CFO, and the General Manager play a foursome on one of the best golf courses money can buy. Along with this we’ll not only allow the press, but we’ll encourage them to cover it as many times as they can along with up to the minute scores, jokes, and fairway banter. Ladies, and gentlemen, I contend nothing demonstrates leadership more through tough times than a round of golf!”

It’s as comical as it is tragic. Because it seems someone actually said, “Yes…That’ll work!”


© 2011 Mark St.Cyr  All Rights Reserved