In client service businesses, these eight words can be some of the most difficult, but essential things to say to your client.
“I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”
You always need to be able to follow it with, “and here’s why, ” but that’s still a delicate process.
You can find examples of the necessity for this almost every day.
- On April 1, Google’s Gmail Mic Drop made headlines, but not for the intended reason.
- Microsoft’s Game Developer’s Conference got almost as many mentions for hiring “school girl” dancers at the after party as they did for the cool tech they’d shown off earlier in the day.
- And for better or for worse, people all over the world know more about the planned British Arctic research vessel… although it looks like officials will veto Boaty McBoatface.
So what can you do?
There are always unintended consequences to a PR campaign, and there will always be times when something will catch even the most plugged-in teams off guard. This is why crisis communications is such a valuable, and popular PR discipline. But a good PR team also needs to be able to head off problems before they happen.
When working on a PR or marketing project, you MUST not just execute, but provide counsel. It’s fun to come up with cool new ideas for a project, but before things go too far, you need to ask yourself, “What’s the worst-case scenario?”
Once you’re clear on what could go wrong, you don’t necessarily have to tell your client “NO!” but you can make sure they are aware of the implications. If they’re comfortable, move forward.
Can a worst case be the best case, too?
Like the news around the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council vessel., there are times when it looks like a disclaimer should have been used. In this case, a disclaimer would have allowed the organization to accept suggestions, but they will make the final call on the boat’s name. that way, they not only get a TON of publicity for a short time, but they aren’t stuck with something that sounds like it came out of a children’s story.
That feels a lot like a PR win to me.
Image via Techcrunch.