Out of adversity should come opportunity

The current state of both society and the economy can make for a gloomy outlook for communication professionals working in the UK. Every day there are headlines screaming out about financial collapse and the breakdown of society. It is enough to make you want to go into hiding for a few years.

One of the biggest challenges for people working in public relations is to recognise that although we are in a difficult climate there is still room for innovation and an opportunity to take. Indeed, out of adversity often comes the greatest opportunities. So, how can we ensure we are in the right frame of mind to do our best each day? And what are the opportunities that might exist?

This might sound simple but some of it is to ensure you are looking for the positives out of the situations. Even with the recent disturbances around the country there have been opportunities, these have included an increase in people wanting to support the police and their cities. There are more people coming forward to do things to benefit their community, to wipe away the impact of the disorder, and even joining the police service as a volunteer. All these present opportunities for communication professionals provided they are not continuing to work in crisis mode.

In a crisis, public relations staff are trying to reduce the impact on the reputation of their organisation. In many cases this means adopting a bunker mentality, hiding from the negative headlines and hoping to sail along with little focus from national media or from the world of social media. Once you get in this mindset it becomes incredibly difficult to step out of it and to recognise that there are opportunities that are ahead.

All of us that work in communication roles know that for every great opportunity to highlight good work or promoting something, there is the possibility that it will attract negative publicity. While we have to recognise the potential pitfalls and problems, we need to be able to rise above them, find solutions, stick to our plan and some times press ahead with no further thought to the few that are critical. This is even more challenging when through social media the few can gain a significant voice.

If we are really to be doing our job in 2011 then we need to have the right mechanisms and processes in place to fully understand the views of customers, or potential customers. We can then use this information to monitor changes and decide on whether to take a different course of action. In the realms of social media, it is as important to be able to understand whose comments and views may be influential as what the comments may be. At the end of the day if it is a one-off comment from someone who attracts little interest then does the view really matter enough to change your plans?

I felt I had to write this blog after a week where I have been told we couldn’t do publicity because it would upset a small number of people, where I have been told that social media is something we should not do because of possible negative feedback, and when some have been in a bunker not wanting to put their head out for fear of criticism. For all those people, and for the many others working in communication roles it is for us all to keep focused on what we do best – finding the opportunities, promoting what is good and helping to build back up the country’s reputation. On many dark mornings it may seem a tall order but the opportunities are there to develop if only we can rise out of the gloom.


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