There’s an interesting discussion going on about Tiger Woods and Maclaren buggies, both of whom are in the press a lot for the wrong reasons, and one correspondent posed the question – “Why don’t PR agencies promote themselves more strongly to help clients in this sort of engagement?”
It’s an interesting point, after all PR companies are hired with the sole intention of making the client look good through getting lots of press coverage, so surely they should be able to leverage this skill when things go ‘pop’?
But how many PR account execs, or managers, or even directors come to that are good at crisis management? It’s simply not what they are trained to do, or indeed what they are temperamentally inclined towards.
Look at the qualifications required for working in PR, especially int he consumer side, and you’ll find a strong emphasis on softness, teamwork, empathy and other traditionally feminine traits. Clients don’t want to work with people who will come to the pitch and tell them that their product is a ‘me too’ offering with little to differentiate it from its competitors and an ill-thought out marketing strategy that needs a lot of work before anyone will even entertain writing about it.
It’s human nature – you will be much more attracted to the person who thinks your product is ‘lovely’ and ‘cool’ and ‘just the sort of thing that the press wants to know about’, even if you know in your heart of hearts that a year later it will be recriminations all round when you ask the agency why they’ve taken £5k a month of you for no results.
So maybe the reason why clients don’t turn to PR companies when the brown stuff starts falling into the propellor because they know that they don’t need platitudes, they need action. Just like Die Hard- when the bad guys roll into town and won’t lay by the rules, you send for Bruce Willis!