We combine competencies of a consulting company and a think tank operating in the area of Public Relations
This is not really about the nuts and bolts of the profession, but rather about accountability for promises not kept. Based on them strong negative stereotypes arose. PR people rush forward to evaluate the positions taken by politicians, while the latter respond tit-for-tat, using every opportunity to promote PR tricks, which stand for a word not kept and a cynical attitude towards the electorate. There is a broader context to it however and elections are a wonderful opportunity to reflect on promises and their role in building support.
Let us begin with a simple statement of fact. Every project requires support of people – those who buy our products; those who fund our operation; those who implement strategies and finally those who elect others by casting their votes. So what is the role of a promise? It is very important because a promise creates and takes away support – it determines the attitudes of people around to the undertaken actions. In other words we do not live in the middle of nowhere and the promises we make and keep affect the support we get. This is expressed in three key areas – what we say about ourselves (communication), what other say about us (recommendation) and most important of all what experience those whose support we want have in their relations with us (reputation). This is why it is important to minimise the gap between what we promise or express with our stance and the results we attain. It must also be remembered that making promises is a two-edged blade and the way it cuts depends on the accumulated experience. If the promises made and their execution stand quite apart, then alternative solutions are favoured. Otherwise those already adopted are thus more firmly bonded in place. Therefore if we get what we were promised, we will be less willing to make a change. On the other hand if verification is negative then we will accept change more readily. It is quite similar with selecting business partners who provide us with various advisory services.
Promises and trust in what it entails underlie relations between the business, people and institutions. Trust, which makes us comfortable that positions, words and norms will turn to actions. We function in reality moulded by relations and construed events, and the positions are like road signs, which reflect values dear to us. In more trivial terms, we live our lives with conviction that intellectuals follow certain patterns, like athletes or artists. We choose that key for expressing values, which helps reach our objectives – this is one of the forms in which a promise made. The next, is not expressed any more in the position taken, but is made explicitly. It depends from the degree of its fulfilment if we get recommendation from people who know us and how we are evaluated by people we have just met. This parade of promises sees politicians and Public Relations experts, setting a common denominator for our professions, and since by nature our activities are not easily quantifiable, stereotypes are born.
Many professional behaviours are obscured by the shadow of single events, and this is why the making of promises requires special sensitivity. But looking at the comments in the sector it seems that the most common traps can be identified and hence this may help avoid the foul-ups. For example: I am an expert in everything (no matter what specifically, but it is important what I can sell)! And what is left behind? – most often mutual regrets. I know your problems. I am an expert in your area, and my people are only top-notch! And what is left behind – frustration. With me it is going to be different! We will change cooperation ambience, we will take care of development, we will train you! And what is left behind – envy. I will always be there for you! And what is left behind – anger. I will respect your money! And what is left behind? – anxiety. I will react quickly! And what is left behind? – silence…
Taking a detached look at both the world of politics and our sector, it occurs to me that the large part of opinions are the above mentioned „PR tricks”, and it is worth to start making the world better from your own conscience.