Politics and small business are rather like oil and water. They don’t mix well. But there are times when businesses can take advantage of a political situation to raise their profile and get some exposure through the media. But beware of your reputation!
That may be when something is in the news that’s relevant to that business, an event that has taken place or now (just in case you haven’t heard!) general election 2019.
The media is looking for people to speak to them- and business is perfectly placed to give an opinion. And PR professionals are looking for opportunities for their clients to speak on the radio, comment for newspapers and generally contribute to the latest news.
Everyone has an opinion, and in my opinion, everyone should cast a vote whatever that might be. You may favour one particular candidate. Is Boris Johnson your favourite, or Jeremy Corbyn. Does the idea of Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party fill you with enthusiasm? Or the Liberal Democrats?
As a business owner have you sent a press release to the local press or out through your social media channels?
The PR industry is geared up for just such opportunities to build your reputation, but there are pitfalls.
Your clients will have their own opinions and voting preferences. Some will be aligned with yours, and some won’t. And the main political parties this time have very different policies. Are you sure that your clients will appreciate seeing your commentary on one party when they support another? What about your opinions on Brexit? Its split families in two never mind business relationships.
So the question is how do you raise your profile and build reputation without upsetting your clients?
Stick to the facts.
Simple. As a business you are an expert in your field, you know what impacts your business, what you need the Government to do to support you, and what you need it not to do.
Consider your brand.
What is it that you want your brand, your business and your personal reputation to be associated with? Is it with one particular political party, do you want to build a reputation as a professional or something else? Your associations and opinions will define your tone of voice and how people perceive you.
As tempting as it is to give a political opinion don’t. This isn’t about censorship or not taking part in the debate, It’s about maintaining and protecting your reputation. That’s what PR agencies should be looking to do for you.
Think before you like on social media. There’s content everywhere saying vote for me or him or none of the above and aren’t they awful. Does it help your business to engage? Nonsense is best avoided.
Have a plan.
Journalists want the story so make sure you know what you want to say before an interview and stick to it. There was a great sketch in Yes Prime Minister where Hacker was interviewed by Ludovic Kennedy. He answered every question with “the question isn’t (X) its (Y) and went on to ask himself the question he actually wanted to answer. Probably best not to go that far but you get the point!
Seek professional advice.
Public Relations Professionals can create media releases for you, brief you in on the opportunities and how to conduct an interview successfully, and tease out the real story and key messages from you that you should be getting across.
So my final tip is this. Take your vote to the ballot box and use the general election as an opportunity to talk about your business, its successes, the support Government can give and what it can do better, and let the politicians listen. There’s no place in business for politics!