Monday, 30 November 2009

Honesty - A business imperative

Today's guest blog is by Mark Knight, Director at Broadgate Mainland.

The infamous ‘Hand of Henry’ incident in the week-before-last’s world cup qualifying match generated a media frenzy of indignation in support of the hard done by Irish, victims of Gallic dishonesty.

This controversial event has already kicked off debate on how it represents the erosion of sporting standards.

The public relations industry is no stranger to the honesty argument. How many of you can put your hand on your heart and say that you have not lied as part of your job? Cue howls of indignation at PR offices around the country!

Okay, the vast majority of these are probably white lies: client tied up in meetings so can’t return your (journalist’s) call and the new product/service is generating huge interest (not) from customers and prospects.

The world post the economic recession is going to be a different place with the share of voice tipping the scales in favour of empowered consumers and make-or-break word of mouth endorsement. The general public and the media will simply not accept the levels of subterfuge that some PR agencies and company press offices have adopted as the norm.

Will companies dare to run the risk of PRs causing an outbreak of hysteria on blogs and forums or even worse a negative SideWiki next to a hard earned page one entry on Google?

A reputation of a company is built on honesty and trust. While these rules may get bent when times are good, they undergo intense scrutiny when life gets tough.

PR will always be about presenting situations in the best possible light. But to avoid a ‘Hand of Henry’ incident it’s best to remember PRs and their brands do exist in their own scrutinised, multi-view world. Adopting the highest standards of honesty is not only morally right, it is a business imperative.

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