PR: Choose your headline

The image of your organization, while not always identical to the truth about your organization, is as important. When something negative happens in your small business or organization, you want to be able to put a rosy face on it before the press finds out and paints their own picture of the situation.

You don’t have to be at the whim of the press. You can create your own image for your business or organization and reinforce it in the press. You can form relationships with the media and make decisions that lead to good press and business success.

I’m going to use a real life example. This headline appears in today’s Rutland Herald: “Next SolarFest canceled; fate is uncertain”

This is, naturally, not a headline you would like to see associated with your organization. It is very negative and gives the reader all sorts of ideas about SolarFest. (Especially if you don’t have a subscription to the paper and all you ever read of the story is the headline.)

Looking at this headline, if I could have spoken to the SolarFest board before this year’s festival, I would’ve asked them, “Should this be SolarFest’s last year? Should this 20th festival be a send-off party? Is SolarFest strong as an organization? What are your chances of continued success?” Surely they must have had some sense of where they were at.

But you can choose your headline. A better headline than the above would’ve been, “SolarFest Celebrates 20th and Final Year with Biggest Festival Ever.”

That headline is something to be proud of and something that could have been planned for. It’s necessary to have foresight in order to protect the image of your organization. Planning should be part of your business process – knowing what could happen in the next few years is crucial to being successful.

Imagine the quotes from festival-goers in the article with the positive title. “SolarFest has been my family for 10 years. I’m so glad they graced our community for so long.” “After 20 years, we feel we’ve raised awareness in the area to the point where SolarFest isn’t as needed. We love that GMP is making Rutland the solar capital of New England. We feel we’ve done our job.” “Our board members are fantastic. We’re so grateful for their participation and know they will go on to be part of more great things.”

In today’s Rutland Herald article, quotes about SolarFest will probably involve a perceived failure instead of a wonderful 20-year success.

You can choose your business’s headlines. Don’t let them get chosen for you.