A fiction inside an untruth wrapped in a piece of spin

Technical PR, Engineering PR, Industrial PR, Manufacturing PRMost technical PR campaigns start with the premise that the customer basically trusts you and that you want to either find more customers who trust you or make the ones you already have buy more product. But what if the reverse were true? What if the customer doesn’t really trust you at all?

What if your PR campaign should be about making the customer trust you?

Danny Finklestein, who writes in The Times, has recently commented that Labour’s bullygate problems have led to the public perceiving Gordon Brown’s comments on the affair as "A fiction inside an untruth wrapped in a piece of spin".

Finklestein writes, "In other words the story slipped into the huge gulf of distrust, disbelief and lack of interest that now separates the political class from everyone else. Into this gulf slips much else. Prime Minister’s Questions almost every week, almost every row about political donations, almost every campaign promise, every campaign slogan. The gulf is so full of disbelieved manifestos and ignored speeches and irrelevant briefing documents that almost the only hope for politics is that the chasm will one day be so full of wastepaper that we will be able to walk across it. And this cynicism extends to the media and our coverage. So not only politics, but news about politics, is seen as a fiction inside an untruth wrapped in a piece of spin."

Most people would argue that the answer to this problem is action; not more PR. However, the reality is that it is action that has got Brown into this problem in the first instance. Just as it is action that has created the reasons for your customers to either trust or not trust you.

The trouble is most people remember bad things more easily than good things. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a customer who remembers your one late delivery but has forgotten the 99 on time deliveries, you will know this only too well.

However, people also remember what you tell them to remember. Do you know the seven times table? Yes? You know it because you have told yourself over and over again to remember it. The same applies to your knowledge of linear motors, rare coins and horse racing. Somebody told you this information was important, you agreed and then you memorised it.

As a result a situation in which customers don’t trust your service, despite it being generally trustworthy, does call for more, different or better PR. You objective is to pass on to your customers the information they require in order to trust you. If you do this in an authoritative and consistent way they will, eventually, learn the things you are ‘teaching’ them.

So, next time you start with the premise that your customers already trust you, take a moment to think about whether they really do. If you can’t answer positively then maybe your PR campaign needs to take a step back to basics.

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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