The PR Guru

September 12, 2012

FOUR WAYS BUSINESSES CAN LEARN FROM BORIS

I’ve been working on a presentation this week, which I’m giving to members of the FSB in Stafford on Monday.

As part of that I’ve been considering which people/companies in the spotlight have good PR and which have terrible PR.

In no realm of society is this more relevant than politics and over the past couple of days we have seen examples of both.

There are things we, as business owners, can all learn from those on the corridors of Westminster (and across the Pond).

In my view, a skilled politician will show strong leadership, maintaining courage in the face of opposition and conviction in their beliefs.

They will have a track record of delivery, and experience in their field.

And they will have excellent timing, being able to capture the mood of the country and exploit the weaknesses of their rivals.

Take Boris Johnson, for instance, and compare him with Nick Clegg.

A YouGov poll in today’s papers says that if Boris was PM, the Conservatives’ poll ratings would be six points higher than they are now, putting them virtually level with Labour.

This is despite the economic climate and the mood of the country before the Olympics and Paralympics.

Boris has played a blinder, let’s be honest, and even though he appears to be a bit of a buffoon it’s only because he allows himself to appear that way.

His stock has risen dramatically and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in Parliament when his stint as Mayor of London ends.

But why is he so popular at the moment? He ticks all the boxes for me – he’s shown courage in his convictions, taking the PM to task after the reshuffle and the third runway at Heathrow last week, for example.

He has been in politics for many years and now has the reflected glory of London 2012 helping him.

And with his various speeches (including at the parade on Monday), he’s been able to engage with us and make us smile – something David Cameron struggles with.

By contrast, Nick Clegg had to change a speech after a draft, describing opponents of gay marriage as bigots, was leaked.

This made him look weak and indecisive – if that’s what he believes he should have the courage to stick to it and deal with any controversy which follows (which in my view would have been minimal).

He also appears to have some enemies within his own party – someone leaked the original draft to the media – and again that undermines his leadership.

He is suffering, more than Cameron, and more than the likes of Vince Cable, from compromising his beliefs to rule in Coalition with the Conservatives.

That’s not to say Cameron and the rest of the Government don’t look weak – in fact the opposite is true, and the situation gets worse with every U-turn.

And this is not a partisan blog either – Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have exactly the same problem.

They either suffer from perceptions of weak leadership (Miliband) or a poor track record from the last Government (Balls).

So what can we learn from this in our own businesses?

Well, good PR is about strong leadership – showing confidence in our decisions.

It’s also about demonstrating experience and a good track record, so talk about your successes, and take pride in them – it shows you know what you’re doing!

Have a strategy in place – the most successful companies know exactly what the mood of their target market is, and develop a product or service to suit.

And above all, don’t take yourself too seriously – add some humour to your marketing and you will engage more with your audience.

Develop a PR and marketing plan which follows those basic guidelines and you won’t go far wrong.

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