The interview is over and the corporate spokeperson are escorting the journalist to the front desk of the company. They are chatting of things small and big and they share a very pleasant moment.
The unexperienced spokesperson is at the same time having a moment of relief; meeting up with the influential journalist was not such a terrifying experience after all! Everything went pretty well and the spokesperson actually delivered some newsworthy quotes, making the journalist eager to jot those powerful statements down. Good stuff.
In fact, it is so pleasant that the spokesperson doesn’t even blink when the journalist asks: “So, what else can you tell me?”
We in PR always go on and on about the fact that there is no such thing as “off the record”. Most accept this as a truth, but still, as a credo it is not so easy to live by as one might think. Once trust is established, we like to talk freely. And we often do.
But talking freely might not be the same thing as representing.
PR is a powerful management tool, but it comes with a price. If your company wants to participate in the PR game (and I guess you often have too!), you’d better start acting as the public figure you are aspiring to become.
Remember that almost every mobile device today has a recording function. Any recording could be sent to a journalist or be distributed via social web networks. Being a public figure is in fact sort of “digital” state: You either are or are aspiring to, or you aren’t. There simply is no “in between”.
I know this from my own experiences on the social web. It has struck me that I in certain small circles are a public figure. Some of these spheres may be more significant than others, but still, the perception of what I know and who I am, they are constructed in the minds of everyone within my very own social reach.
And since everything communicates wether it is on or off the web, then everything I say, write or do, simply adds to the public perception of who I am.
So in a sense – everebody is a celebrety. It all just depends on how wide or narrow you draw the circle around you.
But what does all this mean? Do I have to assume that there is a recording device in my proximity att all times? Shourl I start posing as I throw my garbage bags out? Should we start acting like soap actors in case a real life soap actor happens to walk by resulting in free exposure which might benefit our business objectives?
Have life in essence turned into the The Truman Show?
No. People will always accept the fact that you are a human being and not a robot. In fact, they will probably love you even more if you are just that – human.
Still, being yourself might be hard enough for some. Especially if you in your social context represent not only yourself, but also a whole bunch of other people, be it you business, your interests or your family. If you want to be accepted as a leader and a public figure, then you must represent more than just yourself.
Sounds hard? Maybe it is. It may be a fact of life that not everyone are cut out to be a leader or an inspiring spokesperson in those oh so important and influential social networks.
I say, if you want to be a part of the PR game – go for it! But be prepared to go all in.
Because the trick is simply to always say, write and do things that you feel that you can stand up for. And when you fail to do so, admit to it, clean up your mess in a responsible manner and then make sure you learn something from it. This is not just the basics of good PR, this is how to lead your life in order to be an example in every single social network in which you – lucky you! – are a public figure.
So before you start airing all the company’s best kept secrets, let the journalist go for this time thus making sure you let the outcome build your collegues trust in you as their spokesperson also the next time. Because if you understand your representation mandate and communicate accordingly, there will definitaly be a next time.
And by adding one representative public appearence after another, big or small, your circle of influence will inevitable grow wider and wider. And that is why they should pay you the big bucks – beacuse you represent well.