I was sitting on a PR panel for PRSSA a few months ago and one of the other panelists said something that still resonates with me:
"You can't communicate your way out of something you have acted your way into."
Why? Because as my mother has always told me, actions speak louder than words.
There are more than enough real stories out there to demonstrate the truth behind both statements. Celebrities like T.I, Mike Vick and Chris Brown are having a hard time repairing their reputations because of their actions. They have each hired PR professionals to run damage control and in some cases it has helped repair some of the damage, but people will not easily (if ever) forget the actions that landed them in trouble.
The truth of the matter is this - it is not the job of PR professionals to help you cover up what you messed up. Many operate on the premise that they can do what they want and they will fix it through an apology, good deed or something else later. It doesn't work for domestic abusers and as we have seen, it doesn't work for celebrities or big-time executives (Enron) either.
The lesson. People believe what they see, not what you say. As PR professionals our job is to help our clients match their actions and words; not cover their actions with words.
Tips to all the clients out there:
- The truth is always better than a lie.
- You should never lie to the person managing your image (PR Pro) or the person handling your legal issues (attorney).