Public relations’ role critical in managing ‘good optics’, business reputation, image

Whenever we conduct spokespersons’ training for the corporate sector, within the first 60 minutes of the programme, a participant will surely ask this question: “Do politicians and ministers attend this kind of training?”

Frankly, I don’t know the answer to that question.

We’ve seen a number of faux pas in the public domain; the most (in)famous in recent times being the “kiss kiss” remark in 2021, made by the chairman of a public transportation company following an accident, and more recently, the menteri besar of an East Coast state holidaying abroad while his state was experiencing flooding.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and while we may all love large public celebrations to usher in the new year (particularly post-pandemic), the decision to cancel the celebrations at Dataran Merdeka and the fireworks display at the Petronas Twin Towers was a very good call.

We should not be celebrating and spending so much money on non-essentials when our fellow citizens have suffered the loss of their homes and belongings, and perhaps even loved ones.

For 2023, my wish is for all Malaysians to show more respect and understanding to one another, to Mother Earth, the environment, household pets and to all creatures, both large and small. We were all put on the planet for a reason and each species has its role to play in the ecosystem.

Sometimes I think that the ‘R’ in PR (public relations) should stand for ‘respect’, because if everyone (individuals, communities, corporate entities, politicians, etc) all treated each other with respect and tried to understand one another, the PR folks wouldn’t have to burn the midnight oil so often.

Someone recently asked me why, if the role is so important, does PR not have a seat in the boardroom. I think it may be because there’s a lack of understanding of what PR can help organisations achieve.

Some think that PR’s role is purely about firefighting during crises, or ‘spinning’. I say that if there was more transparency, good corporate governance, and proactive measures taken, crises could be averted, or the risk minimised.

For PR to be effective, the role needs to have a seat in the boardroom. PR is a strategic function and it’s about doing what’s right and what’s honest (now more glamorously called ESG – environmental, social and governance).

When corporations respect rules and regulations, they will obviously do the right things, and say the right things, too.

The PR professional or department acts as the conscience of an organisation. When in doubt, the most important thing is to heed the advice of trained, experienced PR professionals. This will ensure that the right decisions are made and the right messages are communicated. It stands to follow that any risk to reputation or brand will be minimised.

As we welcome a new year and a new beginning for the country, it’s my hope that more government entities, corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises, and even political parties, will understand the critical role of PR in business, reputation management, image, and branding.

Wishing one and all, a very happy 2023 filled with self-respect and respect for others.

Peace!

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

Tagged with: