Don’t forget the ‘R’ in PR

You can’t really beat Oscar Wilde for famous quotes. Witty, intelligent and insightfully true – the man was, quite simply, a comedy genius. But after reading that the RMT are to strike again and are considering the day of the Royal wedding as their target,  I wondered, for the first time, whether in one his most famous lines and a mantra for the PR industry, Oscar actually didn’t get it quite right.

The news of the strike hit me from all sides – in the papers I read at work, the Metro on the way home that night, on BBC News and many a front page this morning. The RMT’s strategy seems an obvious one: pick dates that will incite the most public outcry and thus maximise media interest, column inches and air time. Quite simply the more people talking about their cause the better. But does such a PR strategy lose sight of the ultimate goal; building relations? Surely for any organisation public empathy for their cause is critical. Isn’t it this that adds the validity and substance that results in greater cut-through where it matters most?

Yes, ‘hit them where it hurts’ tactics make a good story, yes the papers and broadcasters will all be talking about it but, listening to public response, I fear their message is being lost and their requests are losing all sincerity. On many a strike or demonstration you’ll see a ‘Honk if you support us’ placard. I wonder how many honks our London tube drivers would get if they stood outside stations on Kate and Will’s big day?

 

A PR strategy focused on ‘coverage, coverage, coverage’ is likely to be one driven by vanity rather than any core strategic or business objective and it’s left me wondering just how dangerous this can be. Yet, having said all this, you have to admit it’s certainly sparked debate and many provoking water cooler moments. Perhaps for some people that’s enough. Agree with their tactics or not, at least we’re all aware of what this is all about. Whether we all feel their demands are valid, however, is what’s being called into question. But one thing we can all agree on is that it’s a right royal palaver.

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