Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Monday, January 09, 2006

PR is Everybody's Job: Scott's crisis communications advice--"When a 5-Year-Old Gets Drunk at Your Restaurant, Don't Say 'No Comment'"--is spot on.

The larger lesson for public relations people is not a new one, but it's one too many corporations forget: public relations is everybody's job.

I once participated in a discussion of the proposition that "PR is too important to be left to PR people." I agreed. If PR people are the only ones thinking about corporate reputation, your company is going to have a lousy reputation. (Similarly, if the CFO is the only one thinking about making a profit, you're going to lose a lot of money).

One of the PR department's most important tasks is making sure everyone in the company understands the importance of reputation and is empowered to make the kind of decisions that will protect reputation. In a company that has done that right, the store manager would no more say "No comment" in a situation like this than the PR department.

Two more points: First, it's kind a cheesy journalistic trick to call the store manager, because you know he (or she) is going to be less sophisticated about PR than someone at headquarters. The only reason to do it is because you hope he (or she) will say something dumb, like "No comment."

And second, it doesn't look like the store manager in this case was any worse at public relations than the folks at headquarters, who didn't return calls from WCBS-TV and told The New York Post they "had not seen the legal papers yet."


  • At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As someone who teaches and counsels on crisis communications here in Canada, I'd add that as part of training company people not to say "no comment", they have to be made to understand that acknowledging something happened is not going to jeopardize their standing in a related court case. I don't know how many times I have heard the rationale "I didn't want to say "no comment" because I knew it wouldn't look good, but I figured it's better than saying something that would come back to haunt us in court later." That's an understandable concern, and it shows that in many corporate environments, the legal concerns trump the PR or reputation ones.

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