24 Feb 2016

An all-mouth-and-no-trousers approach to PR will get you nowhere

Sean Hand – Account Executive at Spreckley

In these times of political upheaval, it’s hard to turn your eyes away from what our cousins across the pond are up to. The race for the Democrat and Republican presidential nominations is making for compelling viewing, whether it’s two candidates going at it with an ever-escalating barrage of personal insults, or a former Florida governor who flaunts his newly purchased firearm to boost his ailing campaign.

On each side of the American political coin, two anti-establishment candidates are making this presidential contest the most interesting one in years. On the Republican side, business mega-tycoon Donald Trump is ripping up the rulebook – and seeing results – with his aggressive and outspoken approach to politics. In the Democrat camp, self-confessed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has seen his popularity explode in recent months, wooing young people and downtrodden Americans with groundbreaking promises of universal healthcare, free university tuition and a healthy increase to the national minimum wage.

Both were once considered something of a joke, destined to hover on the fringes while establishment figures fought the real battle. Both are now viable candidates for their respective nominations.

But one, most pertinent question rises from all of this: should Bernie or Trump occupy the Oval Office come November, could either man deliver on his hefty promises?

The key point here is that excessive posturing, embellishing truths and adding bells and whistles can only get you so far: it’s about delivering on the promises you make. This is even more crucial when approaching a PR strategy.

A strong PR strategy has to be founded on a sound, effective product or service that does exactly what it says on the tin, and more. If this isn’t the case, a company risks gaining a dreaded ‘all-mouth-and-no-trousers’ reputation, with any solid PR efforts falling flat in the face of a poor-quality product. No amount of cotton wool will disguise this – no matter how hard you try, people will wise up and your organisation will suffer as a result.

What any business needs to realise is that PR should be a complement to a good product, not a substitute for a bad one. To maximise the benefits of a PR strategy, concentrate on building a sound, powerful product proposition before beginning to show what you can offer to the world. If this is done successfully, PR can be a great help on the path to turning a fledgling business into a powerhouse.

If America does end up taking a punt on Trump, or instead opts to ‘feel the Bern’, it would provide a fascinating look into whether ambitious or outlandish promises can actually come to fruition. What better stage to test out this theory than the race to become the most powerful man, or woman, in the world?