Is a public relations counsellor’s primary motivation to “make their client look good?” That was the point offered during a favoured podcast this week, and I found myself disagreeing quite animatedly with my car dashboard.
On a superficial level, PR counsellors are responsible for making sure their clients look good. A sustained and positive corporate, brand or personal image is always the desired result.
Nonetheless, an effective agency or in-house communicator should prepare their clients for any circumstance. That can include glowing puff pieces in the trades, a smooth quarterly call, and a glamorous product launch. It can also cover vital logistics delays, product recalls and labour unrest – not to mention marital discord.
The real test of the relationship formed between client and counsellor comes in those moments of pressure. Will a kowtowing desire for approbation (or a simplistic sense of politesse) prompt a communicator to minimize the challenges that will have to be faced before digging out of a negative public image? Or has the client been prepared, conditioned, warned that effective public relations sometimes means taking a couple of punches and living to see another day?