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48 . Glasgow Business March/April 2013

BIG TALKS Marjorie Calder Director at The BIG Partnership

The best PR keeps it real

No amount of ‘spin’ can cover up the problem with a product or service. But get your offering right, and it will get its time in the sun with the help of good PR


everal years ago, I bought into a high street kitchen offer based on service commitment. But when the designer appeared, he “humourously”

contradicted every brand message his employer had spent a fortune puting out. He was also unimaginative and a bit smelly,

which certainly didn’t help, but the point is that he didn’t, in any way, represent what his marketing manager had led me to believe I’d be geting. Sometimes clients want us to “PR” them.

Tat’s oſten the phrase they use, as if it were some sort of respray or magic trick to cover cracks and problems with sweet words and prety pictures so that gullible customers won’t notice the sleight of hand. Firstly, let me give you my

personal definition of PR. It’s “active reputation management”. Nice and simple and based on the firm belief that perceived truth is relative to experience. Or to put it another way, our job as

PRs is to present our clients in the best possible light – not a fake one. Tere are laws to quite rightly

protect against false promises. Even more powerful, there’s unregulated social media for people to air and share views of genuine experiences. “Spin”, by its old definition, is a non-player. It’s a darn good thing

that techniques for puting lipstick on a pig (a useful industry expression) are not only recognised but also swiſtly unmasked through the channels of social media.

Beter then to spend energy geting the

product offering right before taking it to the public. If you have a great product and a good strategy, the world can also easily promote your product for you through the various comment sites such as TripAdvisor, and

sources of immediate recommendation such as Twiter. It won’t all be good news and positive

opinion but, if you genuinely have a good product, then loyal customers will also actively defend its reputation and shout down any detractors. So, why would anyone need to spend money on professional communication specialists? Because that simple description misses out

the fact that your product or service has to be tightly designed to appeal to its audience, it needs to deliver value in their terms and it needs to stand out among a crowded and fickle marketplace. It needs to speak to various groups in

languages they understand and to which they will respond positively. It needs to be backed up by great customer service and be memorable enough to evoke an emotional response which encourages loyalty. It needs to be fresh and for customers to be

constantly reminded of its atributes and advantages – without becoming boring – and all this across a plethora of different channels and platforms which require careful monitoring and management. Tis is a time for authenticity,

building knowledge of customers and offering genuine value. So forget old-fashioned

Marjorie Calder

“There are laws to quite rightly protect against false promises. Even more

powerful, there’s unregulated social media for people to air and share views of genuine experiences”

notions of PR and think in terms of cost-effective promotion of a product or service which deserves its time in the sun.


For more information on The BIG Partnership, visit

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