The majority of thepeople in leading positions (more or less important, politicians or clerks) in Public Administration in Romania think they are good at everything, including at Public Relations. They don’t know how to build teams (to surround themselves) of skilled people (in different fields) to work with.
Many institutions don’t even have a spokesman (or if there is one, he is not a specialist in Public Relations, but has a different training – sometimes really surprising!). That is why the messages of these institutions are contradictory, totalitarian and confusing.
There are six criteria for establishing good relationships with the media and the public – they apply both to the Spokesman and the president / manager of the organization who sometimes must take over this role and must understand the key factors of the organization’s representation. So this person must:
- Assure the support and the approval of top management for a positive policy of communication;
- Know the facts and their implications, the organization’s policy and the way of thinking of its boss and to have the liberty of contributing to the creation of the policy, taking the necessary initiatives;
- Have a positive, active approach to communication rather than a reactive one; Public Relations are supposed to be willing to build bridges and not defensive barriers.
- Be able to communicate complex materials in simple, relevant, “every day” terms, and to have the authority to translate slang;
- Be always available both in good and bad times; to hide under ground when the “gang” from the press is after you doesn’t help the victim and doesn’t stop the hunt either;
- Never lie or show the wrong way because the bridges to the media and to the public fall under the weigh of cheat.
The spokesman needs these personal features in order to represent the organization in an adequate manner, but information is also necessary to send the message the institution plans and aims and the message will become confusing if it is not communicated in simple terms.
Sometimes, different advisers speak as if the organization activity in the void and it has control over all the decisions it makes. The truth is that when you make an announce, you get some points from the media, employees, partners and all those interested in the success of the organization.
The results of presenting a message may show up in a couple of seconds or years later. Be sure of the facts you present and never improvise or speculate. If it is better to let know the good news earlier and honestly, it is even more important with the bad ones.
The legal advisers could ask you not to say anything about a certain incident. Any excuse, they say, could be interpreted as recognition of the fault and this could be used in a possible action against the organization. Although the incident happened because of the organization’s mistake or carelessness, or a person’s lack of attention, the whole responsibility belongs to the organization. If they prove the organization is guilty, it is obvious that it wants to reward voluntarily, fast and consistently and not to base upon the eventual pressures of the judicial system – never mind all the negative associations that will be made if the organization neglects its responsibilities; it must be forced to have a decent attitude.
You will need that the jurists look over the declaration, but never allow them to stop you from making any commentary. Don’t make suppositions –at least test them – you must also know the other’s point of view and this because you don’t learn anything when you speak, but when you listen.
By Raluca Filip