Now there’s a phrase I hear all the time, particularly when out socialising and I’m asked the obligatory “So what do you do?” That’s when I hear the phrase “Well, there’s no such thing as bad PR”. Frankly, that’s codswallop. There is bad PR. Let me talk you through some examples.

Firstly, let’s get really clear here. Just because you don’t have a PR budget, or a PR/marketing manager looking after your PR, doesn’t mean you don’t have PR. Every business has PR – it’s simply a case of whether it’s being managed or not. Why? Your reputation is active, it moves, it changes.

Imagine your company reputation is like a yacht on an ocean. The sails are up and it’s being caught in the wind. You may think you’ve anchored it in place, but the elements have a mind of their own and your yacht is drifting.  Without someone navigating, your yacht is at the mercy of the weather. And before you know it a great big unpredicted wave could cause your yacht to crash. So if you’re being inactive with your PR I challenge you to consider who’s navigating your company reputation? Are you in charge, or are unknown forces in control? We believe that all business leaders need a media profile.

Secondly, there’s been a major trend in reactive PR. You’ve probably seen examples of it without knowing that’s what it is specifically, but you know how it makes you feel. It just feels wrong. It doesn’t make sense, and there’s little connection. Its where we see a company respond to a news story but don’t say anything of substance. They’re simply jumping on the efforts of others and riding on their coat tails while saying nothing of importance. No don’t even get me started on vanity PR, which also falls into this category, where arrogance or self-importance drives the communication rather than the needs of the business.

Finally, what about PR that is pushed out without purpose, measurement or focus, “proactive” PR.  It’s like dropping a stone in the middle of the Atlantic and expecting the ripples to hit Cornwall.  For me, this is the worst kind of PR. It’s an insult to your media contacts, your audience and damages your professional standing. It demonstrates a lack of thought, strategy and standards. Not only that it reflects poorly on your brand and is simply a waste of money. Poor proactive PR is quite possibly the worst type of PR there is – it’s being wilfully negligent of your reputation.

That’s why when I’m asked what I “do for a living” I don’t say I’m in PR. I say I’m a communications specialist. Because I don’t want to be associated with bad PR. Our communications are accountable, effective and provocative.  We create compelling ideas. We care deeply. We care what our clients say. We care how their audiences respond. And we always evaluate the impact.

If you want to engage a PR company but down know where to start here are 7 questions you should ask a PR company before you hire them.  To find out more about Emmett & Churchman click here.