Regardless of your talent, initiative, and resources, even the most successful public relations practitioners and strategies cannot:
· Fool either the public or the media on any continuing basis.
In the long-run, nothing plays nearly as well as the truth. People can easily see through most deceptions and misleading statements. Use public relations and communication opportunities only to disseminate the truth.
· Turn bad practice into good.
LCCS makes a simple agreement with each reporter that covers the agency. If we make a mistake or are wrong, we will admit it and share the steps we will take to prevent the problem from recurring. Along with being the right thing to do, this open, candid approach has an additional benefit. If we tell them that we handled things correctly or that we were right, they can know that it is the truth.
· Get reporters to only write stories that show the agency in a positive light.
The best way and perhaps the only way to consistently assure “good stories” is to never make mistakes or take actions that are open to varying interpretations. Since this is not possible, your agency will be in the negative media spotlight at times. Even so, if you are truthful and forthcoming with reporters, they will generally be fair, accurate, and even-handed as they report the news involving your agency. That is as good as it can ever get.
· Fix performance problems.
Public relations works in concert with and supports all areas of your agency. If performance in a given area or of specific individuals is problematic, that is what needs to be corrected. Public relations cannot, on any sustained basis, fix or cover-up ongoing personnel problems or operating deficits.
Consider these questions based on your perceptions and your agency’s experience with public relations and the media.
Recall one media story in which your agency was shown in a negative light.
· Was the story factually correct? If not, what were the facts?
· What did you find in the story to be negative or unfavorable to your agency?
· What could or should your agency have done to prevent being put in such a negative media spotlight?
· What did your agency do to prevent finding itself in that spotlight for the same reasons in the future?
· What conditions or practices are currently present in your agency that make the agency vulnerable to critical media attention and what is being done today to reduce that future vulnerability?