|Today my colleague and I were discussing the importance of clients being upfront with their PR team about issues or internal weaknesses that they’d prefer didn’t exist or that they presume aren’t relevant to PR. It is not wise for companies to undertake “partial disclosure” with their PR team. Inevitably the company’s “issue or deficiency” is bound to surface publicly, and it may not be a pretty scene when it does. Or it may simply and quietly drive away customers. We’ve seen this bad habit enough to recognize it is not an isolated situation by any means, and I’m sure happens with regularity at large companies just as it happens with the startups. Here are more reasons why full disclosure with your PR firm is the best approach:|
- PR firms can be like your legal counselor. By undertaking full disclosure with your PR, they have all the pieces on the table, whether those are good, bad, or (yes) ugly, but they can help you put a more effective long term strategy together. This strategy will help the company navigate what should have been the avoidable!
- When your PR team knows straight up all of the company’s potholes and otherwise, they are in a much better position to counsel the client on the pros and cons. PR can give you the possible fallout: if you do x, then y might happen, etc. That way, the company can make better decisions on how to proceed --- or not. So, for instance, don’t oversell your product/service prematurely. Why? Well, when reporters and people begin to try your product, guess what? They probably won’t come back---ever, or anytime soon. When a company publicly launches but the product wasn’t ready for prime-time, they cannot have a “do-over.”
- Rather than have your PR team unknowingly communicating hyperbole on a product, feature or benefit, if the PR team is truly “in the know,” they can adjust their emphasis on that benefit or feature that really doesn’t live up to the claim. Or, PR can tone down promoting a company’s position or approach vis-à-vis the competition, when in actuality; the company’s claim might be viewed as duplicitous by the press or blogger community.
- If a product or service is really buggy or essentially vaporware, companies need to realize that this type of smoke-and-mirrors strategy is not likely to succeed for a sustainable period, so they should resist prematurely marketing a product or service that isn’t ready for prime time. They’ll be spending their resources more effectively, and they will gain more credibility with the public for releasing quality products/services when they are ready to go to market.
While this all sounds reasonable, we often see an overconfidence on the part of entrepreneurs that they won’t get called out publicly for this nonchalant approach. Then when something does surface, they call in PR asking for help.