More PR, less violence
Updated: Jun 6
By: Catalina Jiménez - Director & Founder, Sentidos Comunicaciones
Article published in Forbes
I like to think that public relations help us find a purpose in the actions of companies and brands, since to communicate it is essential that we question what for and why.
We understand public relations as the good image management in front of the different interest groups of a brand, personality or a company. From our workplaces, public relations professionals, we are always thinking of strategies and tactics that allow us to build relevant narratives for those who receive them and that remain faithful to the purpose and actions of the organizations we accompany. How do PR professionals see life? Normally in a positive way, everything we hear, read and perceive, we see as capable of communicating and we look for the best angle to do it, being also truthful with the story. Now, telling what is good, what is new, what you build may be “easier”, but what happens when what happens is not positive? A few days ago, the whole world learned of the reaction (a slap) of a famous actor in the middle of the Oscars, where he was very upset when a comedian who was part of the presentation referred to a characteristic physical condition of his wife, which responds to a medical condition with which the woman has been dealing for several years. Beyond the bullying of the comedian, of the macho, ethical, moral, feminist, or any other characteristic or qualification that you want to give to what happened and its characters, here are several public relations lessons that we can learn. Listen, analyze and then act; this actor was able to show his anger and discontent, in the face of the aggressive comment, benefiting millions of people; the blow was not necessary. How? Through various public relations and communications actions.
Activist versus aggressor
Let's imagine a parallel reality where the comedian intervenes with his "joke" about the illness of the actor's wife (as it happened), but the latter does not react by going on stage to hit the other, but listens to him, becomes empowered, analyze and then create an action plan. The next day with his PR team, he creates a public relations strategy in which he and his wife issue a statement about their dissatisfaction with what happened and offer interviews in all the media to raise awareness about this disease and what it means for those who suffer it and their families. In addition, they generate a video on social networks recounting their family and personal experience and raising awareness of why making fun of physical conditions will never be the way, with a label of support for those who suffer from the disease and inviting them to talk at home about the correct behavior against conversations about someone's physique. The actor transforms his anger into activism, around his pain and raises awareness among his followers and in the entire planet. The strategy can continue… Days later, this couple could announce that they will donate a large sum of money to research the disease or combat bullying in schools, or to a foundation for patients and cases with this condition. They communicate it again through the press and with their social networks, this time inviting them to make their donations to a certain NGO that fights for climate change or for children victims of violence or any initiative that generates a more general empathy and is championed in converting their pain in transforming lives and lead the conversation to different and constructive narratives. This time the label will be, instead of talking about the other's physique, let's focus on concerns and issues that do us all good. In this parallel reality, through PR actions, the actor, his wife, and his family manage to turn all this pain into something positive for millions of people. This would not heal his indignation, nor will it take away his wife's illness, nor would it erase what the comedian said, but surely it will take away the weight of that comedian's words and generate awareness in millions of people. We can always decide to face life and through our actions build with much more force than destroying through a violent act.
Conversations that build
I like to think that public relations help us find a purpose in the actions of companies and brands since to communicate it is essential that we question what for and why. Who cares, and how do we impact the lives of those we have access to with our stories and what we broadcast. From where each one is, we have the possibility, the responsibility, the opportunity, and without exaggerating the mission, to generate narratives with our talks and events, that build, that deliver a both positive and at the same time critical vision of our society. Hopefully, we put ourselves more and more in each other's shoes, to understand that our actions communicate and that, whether we are famous or not, we are always impacting someone. More public relations and communication and thus more understanding and less violence.