I don’t like the sight of guns. Heck, I don’t even like talking about guns, but the NRA has delivered a great crisis communications lesson for any business facing a branding crisis.
For the sake of clarification, I am not defending the NRA and their statements over any school shootings. My position on gun control would deter me from ever consulting the NRA and their public image problem.
That is one of the first things you should research on a crisis communications agency before you hire them. Does the PR agency or crisis firm believe in your cause? Does the crisis consultant believe what you say?
That’s important because you want to hire a crisis communications team that believes in your cause or you risk dissent when the image debate turns to ethical questions.
I have consulted many nonprofits and politicians through crisis campaigns. It was important for me to believe in their cause and purpose because my advice frequently needed to mesh with my values.
If you own a nightclub and you’re facing a crisis communications problem in the media following a sale to minors, you don’t want to hire a Mormon who thinks it’s a sin to drink alcohol. You want to hire a publicist who understands the value of your service and believes in your club.
Sure, that is an extreme example, but the best examples in life are clear and cut. Your situation may not be as lucid as the nightclub example, but you should 100 percent make sure your publicist believes in your cause.
Now that the NRA has hired a team of crisis communications experts, here is my perspective on what they did wrong as a crisis consulting agency.
A US Congressman made national news back in 2014 after he was caught on camera threatening to throw a reporter over a balcony inside the US Capitol.
There’s a great lesson on crisis communications and branding that you can take from this exchange. Always assume the camera is live.
I had first-hand experience with this Congressman before this situation was captured on TV. In 2010, I was his Communications Director and helped guide his campaign to victory. My time working closely with this politician gave me raw insight into his personality when the camera wasn’t rolling.
He didn’t have much experience dealing with reporters and it frequently showed during interviews. He made classic mistakes that many novice politicians and business owners make.
Here are some of the biggest mistakes many people make, and how you can avoid falling into their traps.
NEW YORK – (Newswire.com) – Forbes Business Council – an invitation-only organization for successful business leaders and entrepreneurs – has announced Mark Macias – founder of MACIAS PR – as a Council member.
A review committee selected Macias based on his depth and diversity of his experience as a journalist, author, entrepreneur and media strategist. The committee evaluates each member’s business track record and leadership, as well as personal and professional achievements.
“We are honored to welcome Mark Macias into the Forbes Business Council,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Business Council. “Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”
In 2022, MACIAS PR led the media campaigns for Kilo Health, Meru Health, Klinio, Groq Health, And Health, Keto Cycle, as well as the former United Nations Executive Director on Climate.
The founder of the PR agency, Mark Macias, said even as the economy began to slow in 2022, their clients remained on top of the news cycle.
“Consumer brands and startups will see more economic headwinds in 2023, but the best PR campaigns will position your brand into the conversation regardless of the economy,” said Macias. “When strategy and execution are aligned, consumers and clients will see your brand from a different perspective. Advertisements and commercials don’t work in this economy.”
So you need help with publicity and want to try it yourself? There is nothing wrong with that. If you’re a startup, you might not have the budget or experience to put that plan in place. Here’s a blueprint to help with that initial launch.
Of course, you will need to find these reporters and write a pitch that is targeted and concise. I wrote a story for Forbes on how find the best media outlets for your business. You can read that story by clicking here. Writing a pitch that is concise and tight is more of an art that I will save for a future blog.
For now, here’s a tangible guideline to get you started.
The owner of an affiliate service emailed me recently, asking about a PR starter kit for her clients. Her intentions with her email were in the right place.
“I’m looking for a very inexpensive package to offer my (affiliates), a sort of starter kit to help kick-start their marketing campaign. Most of them have no clue what to do,” she wrote.
Hiring a publicist is not like buying a shirt. There is no universal “starter kit” that will work for every business, especially if your business involves retail.
For each campaign to be successful, you need to identify the story and what makes it unique. If you are selling t-shirts to teenagers, that is a different publicity campaign than a men’s store selling expensive suits to professionals. And to underscore that statement, it’s also a different publicity campaign than one that reaches professional women.
In the case with the owner of that affiliate marketing company, she would be more successful if she were to give her clients a compass that teaches them the most important questions to answer before you launch a PR campaign. Instead of giving them a one-size-fits all plan, she should empower her clients with the critical thinking needed to succeed with a PR campaign.