October is a special month for New Englanders. The region welcomes visitors from all over the world who travel in droves to marvel at the beauty of autumn leaves, covered bridges, and a changing sea of colors adorning both the mountains and valleys.
CGPR’s East coast office neighbors Salem, Massachusetts (also known as “witch city”), made famous for the Salem Witch Trials and a sordid history rich with ghastly deeds, horrific truths and enough jump scares to keep your belly in knots. As crowds ascend upon Salem to celebrate all that is Halloween (while creating tremendous traffic jams and a lengthier commute to the office), we realized that several PR lessons can be found within the celebration of Halloween:
- Think through your costume design: To maximize impact, some people invest weeks preparing award-winning and realistic costumes. The same effort should be taken when creating your brand and product messaging. Don’t be careless or overstate capabilities. Rather, use just enough glitter to make your message sparkle, and be thoughtful about how you place every element. If your messaging seems to over-the-top, it may not be received as credible or believable or worse, dismissed. Too understated and it won’t resonate at all. The goal is to achieve perfect balance by weaving together messaging that highlights benefits and points of differentiation and acknowledges how you and your business or service help or improve the lives of others.
- Inspect goodie bag contents before consuming: You’ve heard the scary tales about pins and needles found in chocolate candy bars and razors in apples, right? While some wave away those tales as urban legends, the value of the lesson is the importance of inspecting your bag of treats before consuming (or giving them to your children). Public relations continues to evolve, becoming more integrated with digital as it reaches across social channels, influencer and digital marketing disciplines, thus availing measurable results and metrics. Businesses should expect successful storytelling PR partners to inventory results to showcase how narratives are either helping (or hindering) business growth. Your public relations team can help identify metrics that make sense, closely monitor and take regular inventory of them to determine which narratives are working, versus those that fall flat.
- Watch your fingers: Whether carving jack-o-lanterns with store-bought carving kits or knives from your kitchen, it’s important to keep your fingers clear of sharp objects to avoid injury. The same is true when it comes to business operation and the potential for crisis. One small slip can slice a finger in half, and equally, one wrong move or statement can do the same to your business. The unfortunate truth is one cannot predict when crisis will occur. The CEO of your company could have a sudden heart attack and leave operations without a rudder; a particular product could necessitate immediate recall due to potential poisoning of consumers; a fire could break out in your largest warehouse and damage millions in merchandise. The scenarios are endless. To keep those fingers free from harm, its good PR practice to develop a crisis communication framework and practice it at least once a year to keep it current. By planning ahead with a bit of caution, you can limit potential damage.
As we travel though the month of October and kick off the final quarter of 2019, consider evaluating your public relations program. Is it hitting on all cylinders or is it in need of an overhaul? Rather than aimlessly meander like zombies in search of brain matter, be the witch or warlock with a book of spells firmly in-hand, ready to unleash something earth shattering at the drop of an autumn leaf. If you are in the area and want to partake in a witch’s cauldron-style coffee with CGPR, send us a note and we’ll find the perfect spot to meet.