10 Commandments of Public Relations

Howard Bragman, Vice Chairman of Reputation.com, has been doing public relations for more than three decades and is one of the nation's best-known "spin doctors." Below is information on his 10 Commandments of Public Relations, taken from his best-selling book, Where's My Fifteen Minutes?

  1. All press is not good press. Bad press is bad press. It's often sensationalistic, inaccurate and vindictive. Even the most seasoned celebrities don't like to deal with it. You can't avoid bad press, but you can be such a wonderful person that the press isn't quite so eager to tear you down.
  2. Perception is reality. Don't be fooled into thinking that the masses would let the truth get in the way of a good story. Your life must go through the media filter and what remains is neither the whole truth nor nothing but the truth. Yet, it is your truth, and that is the baseline that has to be worked from.
  3. Create a brand. What are your attributes? Who is your target audience? How loyal are they? The goal is to become multi-faceted, full of positive attributes, and a magnet for respect, fans, work and lucrative commercial endorsements. It’s hardly enough to do one thing well anymore. The secret is to make that brand something based in reality. A phony baloney image won’t have legs.
  4. The truth seeks its own level. There are no secrets anymore. You can run, but you can’t hide. That sword is dangling over your head and is ready to fall. It may not do irreparable damage, but it will require some catharsis in order to get beyond it. We call it youthful indiscretion, a lapse in judgment or an effect of bad times. Whether or not it's a speed bump or a roadblock is often dependent on how one addresses it.
  5. Energize a base. Articles don't just land in a newspaper. They have to be pitched to a specific writer and targeted for a specific section. To succeed, you need to work backwards from your media targets and from your base. A target group can be as small as three or as large as a billion. You just have to define it by looking inward. These are the groups that likely gave you your start and these are the people who catapulted you into the mainstream.
  6. The media will not wait for you. Play offense, not defense. The job of the interviewee is to proactively impart his messages throughout the interview. If you don't have any messages, then you don’t have anything to say, and you shouldn't be doing the interview in the first place. It's that simple. We go by the premise that contemporary media can absorb three or four messages in a session — certainly no more and oftentimes less.
  7. There is no wall between public and private. To be a proper celebrity, you need to go to events; not because of the shrimp — because of the press line. It's not enough to have the press come to you. You have to walk the line.
  8. The medium is still the message. Now, more than ever, Marshall MacLuhan resonates. Remember who you’re talking to and who their audience is. You can’t afford not to. Everyone thought that the Internet would change everything. As it turns out, the Internet is to information what cotton candy is to food. Increased speed has resulted in more incorrect information. Stick to media that are good for you.
  9. You can go home again. You can come back, and we loved you all along. Act like you never left. This is the new thing. In marketing terms, we call it 'pre-promoted'. For your return, the audience has some starting awareness, some loyalty, and this momentum just needs to be redirected a bit. It saves on marketing costs and gives higher awareness levels than someone just starting out.
  10. They're only building you up to knock you down. If there’s anything we like more than creating unreachable icons, it’s knocking the tar out of them and bringing them down to our level, or worse. It’s almost impossible to recover from the big one. The best defense is a good offense. Build up a reservoir of goodwill with the public and the media through your many generous and caring acts. Live your life like someone’s watching, because they are.
For more information on Howard Bragman's 10 Commandments of Public Relations and his book, Where's My Fifteen Minutes?, click here, or visit his website, HowardBragman.com.

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