Pull out your old college textbook and the definition of public relations might say something like “managing relationships with various publics or stakeholders.” In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America revised an earlier definition from a few decades ago and stated that public relations is “a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” If you read this and still can’t tell your neighbor what PR is, it’s OK – there’s no quiz at the end of this post.
For the record, I’ve always maintained that public relations is who’s talking about what you are doing. Is it positive? Is it negative? Are you in the conversation at all? The word “relationships” can’t be ignored in any definition or understanding of PR. Like it or not, regardless of a particular industry, you are a representative of your business and brand in both word and deed. So, it really doesn’t matter how clever and witty your advertising slogan is when your customer service team treats a client with disrespect. Word spreads faster than ever in 2014, folks.
I was reminded of this in a recent unpleasant interaction with my property manager. When I approached this individual in a firm yet appropriate manner about an issue that had gone unresolved for nearly three weeks, I was met with a harsh, defensive reply full of misguided assumptions and highlighted by a key message of “if you don’t like it, you can leave.” We all have bad days; I’ve surely had my fair share. In an effort to see the best in people, I’m working hard on giving this person the benefit of the doubt.
The problem is that this individual is in the people business – real estate with a side of property management. Of all the industries to consider, I would have thought a person in this field would understand the importance of quality customer service and maintaining a good reputation. If the reaction I received is typical when presented with other clients who express concern, I’m shocked that the doors remain open. Like it or not, I can’t in good conscience recommend this individual/agency to others who may be looking for a trusted real estate agent for help in purchasing a home.
PR lesson for the day? Remember that you and your employees are constant ambassadors for your brand. As Obsidian’s principal, Courtney Ellett, always says, “This is a highly-valued, ever-present responsibility.”
What are people saying about you?