Whatever the size, all businesses should have a public relations strategy. Quite often, the belief is that public relations is only for big businesses. This misconception has led to many micro and small enterprises shying away from actively managing their reputation, thinking that this aspect of the business will take care of itself.
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Companies in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean are known for not communicating problems to customers. Because the competition, especially in areas such as banking and utilities, is nonexistent or limited rather than multiple choice, companies sometimes decide not to report problems to customers, hoping that there will not be too many complaints or that the complaints will not reach the mass media.
Facebook remains the most common social media platform despite millennials saying it is for their parents and grandparents. Facebook has worked smartly to overcome this relevancy dilemma by acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram. (Interested to see what’s next.) Communicators and marketers alike are busy trying to monitor and sell on Facebook, while the media giant increasingly makes it difficult for sentiment monitoring under the guise of user privacy. According to Pew Research, only YouTube tops Facebook as the most commonly used social media platform up to this year for Americans.
I believe in the power of words. That is fundamentally the driving force behind my love for public relations and the belief in its power to influence. It was the ideal behind my foray into the previously novel area of gender studies. In my doctoral dissertation, I maintained that this profession of public relations which I love is too narrowly defined, steeped in business issues when it could be so much more, and is so much more for several individuals and organizations that lack the power and agency of mainstream businesses that can well afford formal strategic communications. It was for this reason that I sought to redefine public relations by focusing on a problem that is a worldwide issue, gender-based violence specifically against women and girls.
About five years ago I wrote a blog on Why Considering the family is important in the communications process. Today, following the COVID-19 pandemic the fact that the family is important to any successful business operation should be more obvious to employers and managers.
In 2020 working from home throughout the world became a norm as employee safety was threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work activities that some companies previously viewed with skepticism became the savior for some, making them even more efficient than ever before. For example, Sagicor’s Rookie of the Year (Life), Akindele Licorish spoke of the benefits of working from home to his peers as being able to have more meetings with potential clients and being able to get documents approved quicker since corrections and signing could now be done online without the normal time-wasting commutes.
Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is related to the discretionary activities a company engages in that contributes positively to society. From the outset let’s make a distinction between CSR and philanthropy. Philanthropy involves gifts that are given occasionally by companies and wealthy individuals. CSR is more sustainable. Just as a company can be socially irresponsible, which takes many forms such as illegal dumping, discrimination due to sex or race, etc., it can also be socially responsible by paying fair wages, contributing to environmental protection, promoting health and wellness, and such like.
After months of zero community spread of COVID-19, Barbados’ euphoric COVID-19 bubble burst at the end of 2020. This meant that the government and several companies were faced with a new crisis, that if not managed properly, could threaten both political and corporate currencies. While most of the companies directly impacted fared pretty well with their communications efforts, the government, however, lost some goodwill as its initial communication was interpreted negatively by the populace.
This week starts the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. I guess that it is fitting that I should be putting the final touches on my dissertation for my Ph.D. from the University of Florida as it looks at the issue of gender-based violence and seeks to create a framework for communicating about the issue in such a way not to re-victimize the estimated 1 in 3 women and girls worldwide who have had this experience.
In times of crisis, top executives try to find solutions to problems considered outside the purview of their daily operations. Suddenly they need someone to help explain who they are, their philosophy and cast them in the best possible light in an effort to stay in business.