Ask anyone in public relations and they will tell you that bridging the perception-reality gap is among our biggest challenges as communicators.
It doesn’t matter your line of work, there are always misperceptions that are threats to your business. For example, in PR, we are thought of by those uninformed or misinformed, as “spin doctors” like those they see in politics or, worse, on politically-oriented TV dramas. Good public relations strategies that tell your stories and deliver your messages help, over time, to transform perceptions closer to your realities.
Right now, no industry is working harder than the auto business to bridge its gap. The future of their industry, thousands of communities and millions of jobs are at stake in this PR battle. But, unlike many industries, the autos have beat reporters who get to know their business and develop an extensive body of knowledge. One of those journalists, Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press, has worked for years to know the industry he covers. So today, with myths about the car business flying all over America, Phelan plays “Mythbuster” with a front-page column that spells out the facts.
The “takeaway” here – if your business or industry is still covered by a beat writer that has not yet been lost to media cutback, get to know that journalist. If they get to know your industry, your challenges and your myths, they can help you set the record straight. It’s another reason to build relationships with, not just push statements to, reporters who cover your company. The auto industry’s woes are a good reminder of the remaining value of sound media relations, as part of an overall PR program.