Most of the people I speak to struggle to write their own CVs or even LinkedIn profiles, but are usually good at giving advice to others. Similarly, in the personal space, people struggle to write profiles for online dating sites; a premise which led to led to ‘My Single Friend’, a business built on the idea that we need others to talk about us. It is therefore widely accepted that it is easier for someone else to write about us than it is to write about ourselves. However, as a business, Onyx sometimes struggle to convince less experienced potential clients that the same applies to companies. Many will delay PR until they’ve got their messaging just right. Which is much worse than cleaning your house before the cleaner arrives (or buying a dog and trying to bark yourself).
In a good company employees are passionate about their employer. However, when presenting the company to an external audience, this can mean that the internal team are less likely to look at sensitivities or weaknesses in the company story. We’re frequently told, for example, that a company is ‘the best’, ‘the most innovative’ and ‘unique’ but, when asked to prove it, as a journalist would, the evidence isn’t there. Instead we find a strong USP that has been largely ignored in favour of the rhetoric that the team have all accepted, but won’t create the audience cut through needed.
Another very common problem is that the story is rarely simplified sufficiently by an internal team for an external audience. If you have lived and breathed ‘ABTC’ you can fall into the habit of assuming that everyone will understand it and those that don’t aren’t worth talking to because they’re too ill-informed. Internally people will be too embarrassed to ask what ABTC actually means and it then slips into external messaging leaving the rest of us confused.
A key part of the PR process is therefore to review your messaging, even if you think you have it right. A professional consultancy, like Onyx, will be creating messaging for companies and seeing them tested with external audiences, including journalists, every day. We’ve spent our professional lives learning how to get it right. We can very quickly see what will work and what won’t and it puts our reputation at risk if we present messaging that we know will back fire, so you’ll find us quite stubborn on this point.
It is therefore more difficult, not easier, when, as frequently happens, the whole client team have agonised for some time over their messaging and become wedded to it before they present it to us. At that point you want us to tell you how great it is; you really don’t want us to tell you why it won’t work, which is usually what we have to do.
So give us your messy house and we’ll get it in order for you and start off our relationship on a positive footing. Plus, you won’t waste hours agonising over something that you should be paying us to do.