Not only is this fantastic video but it reinforces that lessons can be learned everywhere, we just need look.
What is the lesson? Nothing worth learning is gained easily, Grasshopper.
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O.K. quiz time. What’s the one job you wouldn’t take if it were offered to you tomorrow?
Yes, yes, I know. Gorilla milker and phone book proofer are on the list, but I’m sure there were plenty of folks who immediately thought….
TSA airport screener.
The TSA, or Transportation Security Administrations, has been getting a lot of grief lately for their “thorough” body search policy at airports. Now, I’m not here to “probe” into whether the TSA deserves the criticism they’re getting for the invasive pat downs. What I wanted to do was use the TSA to illustrate how a poor public relations response can turn a bad situation into an unbridled disaster.
It’s a lesson that every business really needs to learn.
The problem is that with the growth of social media and all the access that goes with it, businesses are becoming increasingly susceptible to getting bad publicity. It happens a lot. What most businesses don’t understand, however, is that it’s not the initial bad press that gets a company in trouble, but their response to it. A lot of times that means simply making sure you don’t do anything to make matters worse.
Here are four tips to stop a business from making a bad situation worse.
TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
Put yourselves in the TSA’s position for a moment. You are in charge of every airport in the country. You must screen millions of passengers, many of whom are just plain disagreeable, every day. And now you have to read daily accounts of people who have had nightmarish experiences at the hands of some of your agents.
Your first instinct is to want to fight back. You want to defend yourself. You want to shove everything back at your “know-nothing, stupid, bus riding” critics and make them eat their words.
Don’t. You’ll regret it.
Just ask TSA Head John Pistole.
What a business needs to understand is that most folks take the side of the perceived victim when there is a dispute. TSA is NOT the victim, the passengers are. It may not be fair, but its reality. Maligning the victim and trashing their supporters will only make you look worse.
Instead, take the high road.
Had the TSA showed any sympathy to the people having problems with the invasive screenings, rather than say “digging their heels in,” there wouldn’t have been quite the backlash.
SHOW WE’RE ON THE SAME SIDE
One of the TSA’s worst mistakes has been to turn the issue of invasive screening into an “us-versus-them” situation. By doing this, the TSA has framed themselves as the opponent rather than as a supporter of the flying public. Not very wise. The TSA would have been better served to take this type of stance.
We understand and sympathize with everyone regarding the inconvenience of the increased screenings. Believe us, we hate it as much as you do. We feel badly about the increased screenings, but we would much rather feel badly about that than about sending hundreds of people into harm’s way because we chose convenience over safety.
Please. We need your help.
If any of our agents are not treating you with respect and professionalism let us know. We are all in this together.
Thank you for your patience and support.
Letting people understand that you’re on their side helps to diffuse many situations.
In many cases a business will want to “punish” the people who are causing them problems. It may feel good, but acting on vendettas might be the worst thing to do. Take TSA. There are reports that TSA workers will start a work slowdown to show their displeasure about screening criticisms and a possible protest over Thanksgiving.
I can’t think of a worse idea.
If people are angry with you, treating them worse won’t help. Furthermore, if you find that you have employees who are acting on vendettas and you don’t get rid of them, your business will be looked at as having been in on it.
You must treat everyone even better than you normally would. Especially the people complaining about your business.
BE OF GOOD CHEER
Let’s face it. Screenings aren’t going to go away. What doesn’t help, however, is when the TSA agents are grumpy, stern, and rude. This just feeds into the public’s perception about the TSA as an opponent, rather than a partner in safety.
If you are pleasant, (not annoyingly cheerful or acting like a joker) people will be much more patient. If you are already dealing with a bad situation, showing some understanding that the customer is being inconvenienced will let people know that you care about them.
In short, people want to know that you care when your business in making their life harder.
TSA didn’t do this. Instead, they dug in their heels, threatened work slowdowns, and acted like they didn’t care about the passengers they were working with. And because of that, they made a bad situation much, much worse.
So take a lesson from the TSA. Everyone gets bad publicity, it’s how you respond to it that will truly help, or hurt your business.
*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)
Hope you’re doing well, especially with all the Holiday preparations going on. I needed to tell you something regarding the Colorado Rapids you may not have heard.
They won the MLS Cup.
Yes, I know. I was shocked too. No one saw the Rapids winning a championship before the Nuggets or the Rockies. And with a Denver guy winning the MVP to boot.
So listen. I got some PR advice for you. You need to give them a parade. Really.
I know, I know, they’re not the Broncos, or the Rockies, or the Nuggets, or the Avs, but you know, they are representing Denver. Just because you think they might not be as important to Denver as the Broncos, it doesn’t mean that their contribution to the city is any less important.
See, that’s the problem that many businesses have.
Often, they neglect the contributions of their perceived “lesser” employees regardless of the fact that those employees worked just as hard and did just as much to reach an achievement that “important” employees did, just without as much fanfare. And when that “lesser’ employee isn’t given the same recognition, they tend to take their talents elsewhere which causes the business to then, and only then, realize what they lost.
That business ends up having to spend a lot more to replace that “lesser’ employee than they would have to recognize them when they were successful.
Same goes for the Rapids. They won Denver a championship!
They deserve the same celebration that the Broncos and the Avs got when they won theirs.
The Rapids deserve a parade.
I mean a real parade, with firetrucks and ticker tape.
It’s not like parades are a big deal in Denver. Heck, you let everyone have parades. The circus, the stock show, even the Irish. Seriously, a four hour parade for having someone in my background who was born in Ireland is a bit much. As my grandma McGinty once said “lo and begorrah.”
But that’s besides the point.
For very little effort, you can show, not only the Rapids, but everyone in Colorado that you appreciate it when someone representing you becomes a champion. That little bit of goodwill will give you more positive PR than anything else you could do.
So please Denver. Give the Rapids a parade. Because, as every business should know, celebrating all successes does much more to help them than to just celebrate “big” successes.
Besides, everyone loves parades.
Thanks for listening,
UPDATE: P.S. A rally is not a parade.
Tags: advice for small businesses, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Rapids 2010 MLS Cup Campions, Colorado Rapids and MLS Cup Champions and Denver and PR, Colorado Rapids and PR, Conor Casey MLS Cup MVP, darren copeland, MLS Cup, p.r. advice, p.r. tips, PR, pr help, pr lessons, public relations, rapidssoccer
As a former reporter and current public relations professional, there are situations that come up that just make me shake my head and wonder, “what were they thinking?’
You see, KOA Radio is a large radio station here in Denver and every politician wants to be on their airwaves. Needless to say, the reporters and hosts know their business and how to conduct an interview. The last thing these professional reporters want is to have the P.R. people for a guest to suggest questions for them to ask, particularly when they are similar to these…
Q. In what ways are you a better choice for this seat?
Q. What do you bring to the Senate
Q. What is your greatest accomplishment?
Q. How’s life on the campaign trail? Are you having fun?
So here is a bit of advice when preparing your client for an interview.
DON’T SEND QUESTIONS TO REPORTERS!!!!!
You see, the vast majority of reporters are professionals who really do take their business seriously. Feeding a reporter questions does five things.
1. Gives the reporter the impression that you think they aren’t good at their job, that you feel you have to help them, and that you have no respect for them.
2. Gives the reporter the impression that your client is so stupid that they can’t even have a conversation without being given the answers ahead of time.
3. Ensures, without a doubt, that the reporter will ask tougher questions then they normally would have.
4. Ensures, without a doubt, that none of the questions you give them will be asked.
5. Ensures, without a doubt, that you will be mocked publicly.
Here’a a better way to get ready for that interview. Spend your time prepping your client. Put the hardest questions you can think of to your client and then critique the answers. This will do more to make sure your client looks good than trying to rig the interview.
So next time you have an interview planned, take my advice. Save yourself from an epic public relations fail. Prepare your client and not the reporter. Believe me, you’ll thank me for it later.
Tags: advice for small businesses, bad media relations, bad public relations, darren copeland, KOA, KOA radio, media relations, media relations tips, p.r. advice, p.r. tips, PR, pr help, public relations, Public relations fail, Senator Bennet, Senator Bennet and KOA, So you don't think you need P.R., softball questions, Tubbs Bennet KOA, What not to do in P.R.
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