Friday, 19 November 2010

PR and Risk Taking

Last night, sadly, I found myself watching a programme called the 'X Factor' - a UK TV 'talent show' that enables a few chosen singers to get on stage and do their stuff, with the hope that the exposure might just lead them to making it as a rock star... .. and sometimes one or two of them win through and become, as we would have called it in my day, 'one hit wonders'... OK, just occasionally someone really talented does make it, but generally, to someone like me, who grew up with Elton, Queen, and other superstars, it all seems a bit of a farce.  But one thing did catch my attention yesterday; when one of the judges applauded one of the contestants for 'really going for it, and taking a risk' - in her view, risk taking was one of the qualities that a potential 'star' would really need in order to make it.

Risk taking is close to my heart.   One of the things that I spend some of my time doing is 'mentoring' young, potential entrepreneurs, and we have a fairly constant discussion about their ability to 'take a risk' - actually, in most cases, their inability to take a risk.   For many, particularly those that have fallen into being an 'entrepreneur' just recently because, at the moment, they just can't get a job, taking a risk is beyond their comprehension, and our conversations normally ends up with my saying that if they can't get their heads around it, then they really need to work harder on getting a job.....and give up on the idea of living the life of an entrepreneur which is, on a more or less daily basis, a risky old business.

Risk taking is, of course, a fairly large part of PR; many of our clients worry about sending out a press release, holding an interview or placing an article in case there is a possibility that something 'bad' might be written.  What they really want is to send a press release/article or speak an interview that, without a shadow of a doubt, will be published word for word.. and, if that is not guaranteed, then they wont do it.  Unfortunately, as we always tell them, there IS a risk in doing PR and it is usually impossible to ensure that what is written is exactly how they would want it.  But, if they are not prepared to take a bit of a risk, then they probably shouldn't do it in the first place.

On the other hand, we do have the 'gung ho' clients that, show them a microphone/tape recorder/whatever, and before you know it, Christmas comes early for the lucky journalist that is there to hear it... and we have to deal with the fall out!     Media training is one answer.   The other is to avoid those particular people being in front of the journalist in the first place, and for us to act as a barrier - i.e. to be the person/companies' spokesperson.   Easier said than done.

If all else fails, though, I really do believe that 'there is no such thing as bad publicity'.   OK, it can seem bad at the time... but in the long run, very few people remember what was said about you/your company... they just know that they have heard of you - and that is usually quite a positive thing!


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Winners never Quit!

I have had so many things that I have wanted to write a blog about in the past few weeks, that the end result has been.. nothing!   Part of the reason for this is that the ideas whirl around in my head but, at the moment, there is no time to put them on paper!  Which leads me to the question - why, if there is a financial crisis and we are all hunting for new work, are we all just so busy!!

It seems to me that the main reason, certainly here at our agency and at a lot of our friend's companies, is that we have all laid off people in the past year or so, with the end result being that, whilst we may have less work, we have less people to do it.   A fairly constant discussion at JWA at the moment, where we are definitely seeing quite an upsurge in new business, is 'do we manage ourselves, or do we take on new people'.... but it is not so long ago that we were forking out a lot of redundancy money to people that could, now, be doing the new work.  I must say, speaking as the boss, I really feel that I want to see sweat running down people's faces before I make that decision.

This is definitely one of the problems that the last two years of crisis has left a lot of companies with, so what is the answer?   Sitting in the Czech Republic, where employers' taxes are so high (one of my redundant ladies said to me last year that she couldn't see what difference it would make to me each month to simply save her salary of x [her take home pay], when the reality was, of course, that I was saving her take home pay, plus the taxes she had already paid, plus a great big wodge of employers' taxes on top - in total nearly double the amount that she thought) it would definitely help if the Government could see fit to reduce our taxes and, therefore, encourage us to employ more people again.  But without going into a rant about clients wanting so much for so little (that might be a future blog!), I am a little bit at a loss to know what else we can do, other than battle on. 

On that note; an expression I heard recently and that I think will become my own personal slogan (but might not be such a good one for the company!): 'Winners never Quit.  Quitters Never Win.'    Kind of a good one, I think!