This month we contributed to Sheffield Telegraph’s quarterly business review. We wrote about PR ; exploring what it actually means to offer ‘public relations’ as a service, and what businesses can expect from good PR representation.
Counter Context is a communications company, working in the UK and beyond for over 20 years. Only very recently have we started referring to ourselves as a PR company. Why the sudden change?
We have seen how the term PR has become devalued by many and associated with distrust of government and big business. Ask most people in the street to describe PR and they will tell you it likely involves flashy events, spin, disingenuous news stories and publicity stunts. Ask most companies and they regard PR as the need to churn out endless press releases.
Despite this, we have started to use the term PR to describe our work. The industry needs to go back to the true meaning of the phrase – public relations.
We help our clients to achieve success through building genuine and mutually beneficial relationships. Our work is founded on the belief that honest, open and two-way communication helps to build understanding, trust and support in ideas, projects and organisations.
Our work does often involve organising events, writing a press release or doing something fun to catch people’s attention. Our focus is on informing and building understanding, not tricking or distracting the public. PR changes perspectives, but not through manipulation of the truth or twisting the facts.
A good PR company will not tell you to lie, ask you to be something you are not or cover up a crisis. A good PR company will advise you to connect with your stakeholders; the people who influence and who are influenced by your business. They will advise you to find out what your stakeholders want and the impact that your business may have on them.
Your actions will not always meet with stakeholder approval. This will inevitably risk relations with your customers, employees, suppliers, investors and the wider public. A good PR company will help you to explain your actions in an honest and sincere way and they will help you to rebuild and strengthen relations with the public.
PR is about telling positive stories. PR is not about covering up the bad and hoping people do not notice.
We support clients delivering massive commercial and infrastructure developments. Companies that are disrupting journeys, making noise and changing skylines. Inevitably this will upset some people. What we do is work directly with the public to understand their worries and, in turn, to help them understand the work of our clients.
We find that encouraging conversations rather than monologues builds trust, and with trust often comes support.