Everyone Needs a Publicist

That’s what my son’s friend said to me when he was just 15-years old. Suzy, when I start working, I’m gonna hire you, because everyone needs a publicist! Why I asked, and he said very simply, “because I want everyone to know what I do so I can be a big success.” Smart kid! David ended up graduating from Yale at the top of his class and while he didn’t hire me, I will never forget his words.

35-years as a publicist proves that David in fact was so right. After having represented some of the top brands in the world, no matter how great their product, service or contribution, if they don’t let anyone know what they offer, or how it benefits their target audiences, what good is it? And, even more concerning is a company or person in crisis. If the public only hears one side of the story, and we know there are always two sides, their reputation can be destroyed in a matter of minutes with a tweet, a video or instagram.

So, let’s say you find yourself in a big mess because someone has accused you or your company of something you know without a question of a doubt you didn’t do. Only you can save you or your company’s reputation by setting the record straight in the bar of public opinion before the news breaks. Only you can ensure your story is told accurately, even if it’s bad. And only you can make sure your story appears on page 46 instead of page one. How? Tell the truth, put it out there before the media, your competition or your disgruntled employees or friend’s make-up the story they craft.

Make sure your voice is heard and know that you have a good fighting chance to correct the misinformation before it’s too late. Remember, debating for just an hour might even be too late depending on the situation. So, listen to David’s words—call a publicist. But if you’re smart, you’ll already have one on board. A good publicist will build a positive brand for you and your company so when there is a crisis, it can easily be averted with the friendly media you’ve included in your positive brand building outreach for years.

There are many steps to starting and running a business from making sure you have a solid business plan, knowing your target audience and what benefits you bring to them, hiring people that share your vision and building a foundation that supports that vision. A well written website and an appropriate online presence, a strong mission statement that shares your why, and a sales and marketing team that knows exactly what they’re talking about—because they’re out there representing you every single day and if their message is off—so will be your business.

Many times, it’s valuable to hire outside counsel, advertising and public relations services. And here’s why: you might only be able to afford one person to serve each of those functions, and depending on your budget, that person might not actually have the bandwidth or experience to fill the shoes you need. Then if you’ve hired them, you need to fire them and that’s not always easy. Not to mention the benefits you’re paying them on top of their salary. Consider hiring different firms with the skill sets you need.  What a relief to know that if that firm doesn’t perform to your expectations, you can let them go and try another. And, it’s gratifying to see the results that outside firm is providing for you each week or month. But you must remember to hold them accountable. The only way an outside firm works well is when they are treated as a strategic partner. An important part of your team whether it’s to watch your back legally or to disseminate the proper messaging about your services.

Suzy Ginsburg is founder and CEO of Global Communication Works, a full-service advertising, public relations and reputation management company.