PR and why management matters

Bill Sledzik suggested to me several weeks ago that I take a look at Jim Horton’s blog Online Public Relations Thoughts. I’m glad I did. Jim has excellent insights about public relations, and he provides good links to other blogs and information. He also apparently posts a lot around 4:30 a.m. or so. Good. I view 7:30 or 8 a.m. as midday.

I was going to add a comment to Jim’s posting yesterday about Bear Stearns “The Cost of Incredulity.” But either he doesn’t allow comments or I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Doesn’t matter.

He focused on themes that I believe get right to the heart of public relations: trust, character and credibility.

And in the context of other remarks about the Bear Stearns situation, he writes:

“How much could public relations have done to save Bear Stearns? Little, it turns out. The bank tried to calm investors, but fear and greed ruled. The bank did not have enough friends to stand by it in the end.”

I’ll take that a step further. I don’t believe there was anything public relations could have done. Bear Stearns went belly up because of pathetically inept and arrogant management that apparently made one bad decision after another. If the management group had stepped aside last week, maybe effective public relations could have helped. If the bank had any credibility left at that point — which I doubt. And as I mentioned in my post yesterday, I still think that something smells about the announcements Bear Stearns made last week. But I’ll let that go. Clearly there are bigger fish to be fried at this point.

Anyway, this is why management and leadership matter. I get so tired of hearing people (and reporters) say that (fill in the blank here with the name of any organization) has a public relations problem. Ah, no. Once you hear or read that you can be assured that the organization has a management problem.

And ask the 14,000 Bear Stearns employees what they think today. Here’s from an article written by Associated Press reporters Dan Seymour and Eileen Aj Connelly:

“Employees own about a third of Bear Stearns, which means the company’s plight has bled its roughly 14,000 workers’ portfolios by $3 billion this month alone and more than $5 billion this year.”

I’ll bet that if you asked those employees most would still think highly of Bear Stearns — but not the management team that caused this debacle.

Trust. Character. Credibility. Jim, you’re right. And in every organization it has to start at the top.

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4 responses to “PR and why management matters

  1. A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks.

    Jason Whitmen

  2. I like your writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    – Sue.

  3. First, an observation. Don’t the two comments that precede this one look like spam? But damned if they aren’t both legit bloggers who dropped by to pay you compliments. No one ever plays nicey-nice with me like that. I’m envious!

    Anyway, I dropped in to say I’m glad you found Jim Horton. He’s one of the digital pioneers in public relations — blogging since forever, and writing about PR and the Web even longer. But Jim never loses sight of how an organization’s communication and its policies fit together to form a coherent PR strategy — or not. In the blog world, he’s one of those rare birds who can be called both a “linker” and a “thinker.”

    As for comments, Jim does allow them, but his template is an old one from Blogspot, so you have to know where to click. Hit the “#” next to the posting time at the bottom of the post. That said, I think Jim’s readers turn to him for enlightenment, not conversation. I do.

  4. Bill, I appreciate the nice comments from Jason and Sue very much.

    And I agree with you about Jim . Very thoughtful posts.

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