Social PR: Ripping The Mask Off

by Jay Deragon on 05/26/2011

Public relations is about shaping the public’s opinion about your company,your brand and your product. Many organizations spend lots of time and money trying to create a favorable public opinion.  Organizations try to create a persona they think would attract the public. The problem is that most of these persona’s aren’t real.

The word persona implies a social role or a character played by an actor. This is an Italian word that derives from the Latin for “mask” or “character”.  People are sick of organizations putting on a face that “mask” the real intent, whether good, bad or indifferent. People, the public,  see beyond the mask yet the persona of today’s industry executives still think that leading is an act. As such they act out the part and over time end up believing the act rather than what’s real or being real.

When The Mask Comes Off

A lie is always discovered sooner or later. Yet how many times have we seen politicians and corporate executive lie to the public. More than we want to admit but enough that grabs our attention when the media exposes the lies and intents to cover up the truth with “mask”.

Today the power of media extends beyond traditional channels and now includes amateur journalist expressing real emotions  about everyone and everything, good, bad and indifferent. In other words the “mask” are being ripped off exposing real emotions and attitudes..

Leroy Stick, who started @BPGlobalPR on Twitter (pen name) writes:  So what is the point of all this?  The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND.  You don’t own it because it is literally nothing.  You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?

You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand?  Have a respectable brand.  Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions.  Lead the pack!  Evolve!  Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President.  Hire those workers to actually work!  Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better.  Collect the oil and get it out of the water!  Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture.  Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem.  Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it.  This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy.  Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.

The @BPGlobalPR twitter account has over 125,000 followers. The official @BP_America has 11,000 followersAsk yourself, which gets more attention? The public or the public relations?

Real Feelings Are Raw and Revealed

In a recent press conference BP CEO Tony Hayward said “I want this spill resolved more than anyone. I want my life back”. Mr. Hayward expressed real emotions which reflected how he felt.  The media jumped all over this and the public reacted in disgust.  Both his emotions and that of the public were raw and real.  The difference was the public has no patience with leaders who try and lead behind a mask. Especially when the leaders actions, or lack of responsible actions, lead to death and destruction of natural resources, people’s lives and livelihoods.

Social media isn’t hidden behind grammar,public relations mask, political or traditional media influences. Rather it is raw feelings expressed by the human network of real people and how they “feel” about those who hide behind an old mask called public relations.

Leadership is doing the right thing and doing things right. Social media is ripping off the mask and exposing the wrong things that leaders do wrong.

Previous post:

Next post: