"IF PEOPLE WANT TO BE DECEIVED..."
or WHAT ARE PUBLIC RELATIONS
"...Bender found a pair of scissors and in a flash snipped off the moustache, which fell silently to the floor.
When the hair had been cropped,the technical adviser took a yellowed Gillette razor from his pocket and a spare blade from his wallet, and began shaving Ippolit Matveyevich, who was almost in tears by this time.
The sufferings of a man whose head is being shaved with a safety razor are incredible. This became clear to Ippolit Matveyevich from the very beginning of the operation.
But all things come to an end.
There! The hearing continues! Those suffering from nerves shouldn't look!
Ippolit Matveyevich shook himself free of the nauseating tufts that until so recently had been distinguished grey hair, washed himself and,
feeling a strong tingling sensation all over his head, looked at himself in the mirror for the hundredth time that day. He was unexpectedly pleased by what he saw.
Looking at him was the careworn, but rather youthful, face of an unemployed actor."
This is an episode from a book called The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov, two Russian authors, and we could say that this is a classical example of the work done by an image-maker - a Public Relations specialist, in other words.
Public Relations (PR) is defined as "a unity of coordinated actions to influence public opinion, where the actions are directed to change the attitudes and behavior of people in one's favor" (From a textbook by Eugene Romat, a marketing expert).
In Ukraine our new "legitimated oligarchs" do not even hide their claims to power in the country. They intentionally and skillfully gather various resources into their hands: financial, industrial, lobbying, informational and administrative. These oligarchs also manipulate public opinion and use various notable politicians in different branches of government, as well as employ multiple professional image-makers. Let us take the last presidential elections in Ukraine, as an example. The key factor here was the media, which was controlled by definite powers; it presented things in a certain light and was successfully used by image-makers to create our president's image.
As for now, let us try to list out the main components of how one would go about influencing public opinion and let us also try to envision the character of a person who would have to do such work and achieve such results.
All right, the first thing in this PR combination is the image. First of all, an image always demonstrates a biased viewpoint. Image is a tool for propaganda and advertising. It is widely used in politics, diplomacy, the media, etc. There will always be people interested in creating an intentional formulated perception of a certain event or phenomenon, and that formulated perception IS the image.
One's image of something is mostly based on emotional perception of that person or thing. We all add a certain hue or color of our own feelings to any information - that is inevitable. This is how we get a distortion of reality and false idea of some object of our perception. If we phrase this in terms of philosophy, we could say that an idealized or absolute image is formed. In the advertising field this is viewed as a normal exaggeration of fact and considered acceptable - it is called an "allowable lie."
There is another way to formulate an image - idealization, which means bestowing qualities on the object being advertized, which qualities this thing may or may not have. This technique is based on associations. By use of these associations the merchandise is given so-called "additional values." These values could vary widely - they could be social, like prestige, for example, or socially-psychological, ideological, aesthetic or of any other category. In such a way advertising and this PR combination make for a more emotional and intentional perception of the object, be it a pack of cigarettes of a politician.
Here's an example of an ideal for a candidate, which was put together based on a survey done before the last governor elections in Saint Petersburg, Russia. "He must be tall, have an average build; his face must not be too thin or too pale, and he must not have a moustache, a beard or be bold. His hair style has to be neat and well-groomed. He has to be classically and conservatively dressed, but also not shy away from new fashion trends."
Let us turn to world-famous Ukrainian politicians. In vain have the journalists sought after at least some data on the hobbies and life passions of one of the most famous ones - Yulia Tymoshenko. It turns out that her main passion is her work. This "Gas Princess," as she has been named, is hardly an admirer of balls and royal receptions; she doesn't sail around on a yacht, nor does she hunt rhinoceroses. She doesn't even play the guitar (like Leonid Kuchma, a former industrial man), nor does she paint (like the refined financier Victor Yushchenko). One would not call her the guardian of her family hearth; nor, even, the protector of the fireplace, and even not the keeper of the electrical heater. She barely talks to her husband, and her young daughter lives and studies in England. Tymoshenko dresses luxuriously. In Ukraine we honored her with the title of "Gas Princess" for her long years of success in the gas industry. Tymoshekno is a national asset, for she's been acknowledged as Ukraine's sex symbol at her nearly forty years of age. Finally, Yulia is nearly a saint, since she had the "Great Martyr Saint Barbara" award bestowed on her in 1997 - the highest award the Orthodox Church has to give. No one knows precisely which church it was specifically that awarded her this honor, nor for what merits. However, it is not difficult to learn of "pious Yulia's" great deeds - all one has to do is walk down to the underground crossing at Pushkin Square in Moscow and look at the beautiful colored wall panels decorating the tunnel - Yulia's present to the City of Moscow. The scandal surrounding the Prime minister's arrest and the accompanying charges was on everyone's mind and tongue for quite a while. Whatever the reason, but Yulia is absent from the media horizons right this moment, yet something must be imminent...
Today countries of the former Soviet bloc are progressing with seven league strides and are therefore demanding to have public relations experts in business and politics. Any self-respecting and thinking person (even minimally thinking) will understand that his or her career and financial welfare totally depends on public opinion in the final analysis. Let us just mention that it would be erroneous to identify public relations with publicity, which is one of the avenues of PR.
Publicity is dissemination of commercially important information in media publications, over the radio and television and off stage. Publicity means: do good things and let the world hear about it. A good product, a good purpose, a good film or a good deed - they all fall under that same category. Public relations, on the other hand, means limiting the damage and hardships effecting you, neutralizing them, if possible, or even turning it all to your advantage. The conflict and crisis management avenues of Public Relations are among the most crucial ones.
When we're talking about the activities of some specific company, then here are the components, which go into practical application of PR: 1) forming a favorable image of the company 2) developing methods and techniques of improving mutual understanding between the company and its various publics 3) taking measures to remove any barriers that impede information about the company going out and banish undue obstacles, which come about during the communication between the company and its public (harmful and false rumors, etc) 4) working out tactics for conflict and crisis management 5) continuous monitoring of the atmosphere and attitude among the staff and working out measures to control and better that environment and, finally 5) creating a bright unique image for the company and distancing it from the competition.
Is PR in elections the same as PR in commerce or business? As I've mentioned earlier, the candidate's main image component is his or her appearance and physical features, for that is how the voter judges the candidate. In most countries the job of conveying these characteristics to the viewer is done over television, which has at times been called the Queen of Political Advertising and has unlimited capability to create an image for a candidate. These "box" helps us, but it also hoodwinks us in a way. One well-known Russian image-maker, Sergey Gorin, had said, somewhat cynically: "If people want to be deceived, it would be such a misdeed not to satisfy their desire. If they allow themselves to be treated this way, they will be. We will always elect the people with an eloquent tongue and a purse thick enough and can pay those who work for them."
PR in politics has long ago ceased to be a luxury. We're the listeners, spectators and participants in a massive amount of PR campaigns being carried out around us by various institutions and powers around the world.
And if we now condense everything we've said above about PR and try to characterize a PR specialist, we might get something like this:
A PR person is an interpreter and advocate of idea and a thinker.
A Public Relations specialist knows how to create a positive opinion of something; he or she can research and generate ideas; this person can be an artist and knows how to organize time; he stands out from the rest, because he has the will to win; she knows how to bring things to a done; a PR person stands by his own ethical code; she differs in that her perception is emotional in nature; a PR specialist can motivate people, has financial acumen and is marked by astute organizational skills; one trained in PR knows how to write a screenplay, how to film and edit the reel; such an expert can be a team member and does not succumb in the face of conflicts.
There is one thing to remember: every trade has its own ethical code.
. "Sure, we can do a PR-campaign for a less than decent group or company - after all, we didn't make them the way they are!" is an answer one often hears about the ethical side of the PR profession.
As one legend goes, there was a shah and he ordered his chef to surprise his influential and noble guests, and so the chef brought cooked lobsters. Yet, what proved most astonishing was that the lobsters were moving. The answer was simple: the chef confessed that only one live lobster was necessary among the dead to create the effect. Just the same, PR is the link in the chain, which connects the people who are doing some activity and their audience or public who respond to it.
Are any amongst us the "alive" lobsters in a bunch of boiled ones?
After all, doesn't the Bible say that we determine our own existence?
CEO and image-maker of Rara Avis.
The article was published in the 2001 November-December issue of Business Life, a City of Kharkov magazine.
A Tale Ivan Vassilievich Changes Profession 2
Note: Ivan Vassilievich Changes Profession was a 1973 famous Soviet comic science fiction movie, wherein Ivan Vassilievich, a superintendent of an apartment building, and George Miloslavsky, a small-time burglar, are time-machined back into 1600s, forced to disguise themselves to become respectively Russian tsar Ivan IV the Terrible and Prince Miloslavsky.
Once there lived a Soviet engineer. His land was large, plain, and straightforward. An orderly one. Well, because everyone was ordered about. And then, in late 1980's, something happened to that land. It went a bit weird towards its own inhabitants. And its orderliness just fell apart. Well, some of the inhabitants went oh-my-god, and judged that the time was about right for the end of the world–an Armageddon. Others decided to go and try their luck. (Now the most successful ones of them rule that land).
The engineer, oddly named Ivan Vassilievich, couldn't try his luck so big and grand, for he hadn't really become a big shot before. And you had to be a big shot to privatize and monopolize industries. But he wasn't at a loss either, and decided he'd had it enough to be ordered about. He took a glance around and went looking for how to apply himself in a new way.
As you know, it's harder when things are not orderly, even if you're the one who's ordered about. Few lone warriors will survive. This tale is about a hero; we are a bit envious of him, and it would do you good, too. For he no longer needs that past order. As to why, well, make your guesses, show your wits, you fine young men! So, in early 90's, he already had a company. Well, actually, it was built around a bare idea:
Why not produce car windows? Lots of imported cars around. No windows for them. Costly to import. (Gosh, what an exciting time that was! If only we hadn't gone oh-my-god so much!) Ivan Vassilievich will privately whisper to you that at that time, instead of money, they would get paid in things like tractors and other items for your household.
Before doing the car windows, he would sell audio cassettes and ran some other petty businesses.
All right, the car windows. Ivan Vassilievich and his partner number one.
Each of them invested about five thousand hard-earned dollars. So, they found a facility suitable to produce glass, and bought it. Next they built an oven with their own hands, and were making mortar in winter. The preparation took half a year until there was any production.
Finally, the first customer, a German. When he saw how and where the glass was being made, he couldn't help but shudder: My god, isn't this Stone Age! However, the quality of the product was a pleasant surprise to him. When making side windows, they would come close to using a mop to bend the glass. Simple, plain tools. You do know, though, don't you, what joy it can bring to you when you're doing something you're really into, and doing it with your own hands?
At that time, they heavily promoted it to the mass consumer. (For they hadn't yet learned what kind of public would respond to mass promotion.) They'd write letters to Soviet collective farms, and hand out business cards, and put up billboards. Slowly growing was the business in Ivan Vassilievich's tsardom... Have you ever had a fire happen to you? Hope you never will. Knock on wood.
Well, Ivan Vassilievich, the hero, was not so lucky. The fruits of five years' work, the oven they assembled with their own hands, with documentation gathered from across the whole orderly country and the blueprints drawn by some best brains, the partners' whole cherished offspring, together with the products for two months' sales, together with three borrowed cars of foreign brands, all of this was gone in one night.
One of the cars had caught fire, and down burned the whole place with everything in it. The budding entrepreneurs calculated the damage at thirty thousand dollars. Actually, the splendid media only estimated it at six thousand. Well, they are no mathematicians and thus may be forgiven...
That day of March 5, 1997 will forever remain a vivid memory in the minds of Ivan Vassilievich and his partner number one. Just before that, new products had arrived, and were being advertised on TV, in the subway, in the press...
It was sleeting. And the following night, their watchman was a bearer of bad news. The fire. The heroes were there in ten minutes, and called the fire brigade.
Have you ever called a post-Soviet fire brigade? Well, if you ever have to, know that you should already have taken proper care and been introduced to the call center operator of your electricity provider. For if you don't know their home address or can't find it promptly enough, you've lost your property to the fire. And that's not all. You should have stuffed your pillows and pockets with money to pay for gasoline, for the post-Soviet firefighters will have no gasoline. If you've never read this, well, that's all, fellow.
Well, now you realize what happened?
Long afterwards you're going to see in your dreams some car glass lamination machines and brand-new tools that never got to be used. You'll never wrap your wits around how your whole well-being, albeit relative, was gone. See, in spite of all the pilfering going on, your average income had been up to a thousand bucks a day, and your fifteen employees were earning each an average of 200 dollars a month–imagine what that was like in 1997!
Now, burnable is not only your property. Burnable are also others' possessions, in this case the three cars that happened to be under repair at the facility at that exact time. So, first you're going to have to make up for the loss of a big grand car, which didn't belong to you.
Now, this is hardly all that awaits you.
Even if you guys had been partners of long standing and great trust, you will likely have to seek new partnerships now. Remember the proverbial peck of salt to be eaten?
So, once again, all from scratch.
Ivan Vassilievich, the hero, is a sane man. Pondering he was, but not over the evil winds or powers that brought his misfortunes. He took the forty glasses, his share of whatever was left, from the other warehouse to the garage, and borrowed some money.
First he was off to Donetsk city to get new equipment. On his way, he crashed the car, which was, accidentally, pledged against the borrowed money. But Ivan Vassilievich, without repairing the car–believing it should somehow turn out fine-drove it as far as Moscow, the Glass Institute.
Then to Kyiv, to the Paton Institute where they produce glass.
Then to the Glass Department of the Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute, for consulting.
A new facility was leased and an oven bought for the borrowed twelve thousand dollars. And then experiments began...
Now, what would you say if you bought a washing machine and found it to be an embroidery one instead?
Well, you'd have spent two years experimenting, and then you'd realize that it all makes no sense, and you'd fail to convert the apparatus. And then, like Ivan Vassilievich, you'd have to produce furniture glass and shop windows instead of car glass. Just don't forget that you have to have an enterprising spirit, and have some income source on the side while doing all that.
In 1998, Ivan Vassilievich met a new partner. It's a small world. Miloslavsky had been in touch with him for two years, one way or another. What had attracted Ivan Vassilievich seems to have been Miloslavsky's enterprising spirit.
"Yeah, you tell them," Ivan Vassilievich asked him, "about the guy who bought the stuff in Turkey for nine bucks apiece, and sold it to us for sixteen, and then complained that he'd hardly covered his costs."
"And don't forget how they pushed it in Kharkiv thirty-five apiece," we can hear Miloslavsky's voice.
"Right, right. Saying he barely broke even, and asking us if we'd like him to bring us more!" There was no calming down Ivan Vassilievich.
That's how they became partners. The risk was too big for one man, the burden of debt too heavy. For they'd had to borrow from eight people.
So, the partners assembled the oven and went to Poland, to learn from the Westerners to produce bent glass. It turned out, though, that there was nothing to learn.
So, there it stands now in Eastern Ukraine, the only computerized glass oven. You can only find similar ones at one plant in Russia.
The partners have some know-how of their own. Go talk to them, they might sell it to you at a reasonable price.
Only no one else in Ukraine produces such furniture glass.
"Ivan Vassilievich has this guts feeling. I dunno how, but he just sees how the wind blows. His brains are top class," whispers Maria, his right hand in the company.We ventured asking him:
"What about if you had to start it all anew? Would you, then, go for it, Ivan Vassilievich?"
"Sure thing, I'd go for that," his eyes blazing with passion. "You see, you may be undersleeping but well-doing. After the fire, I bet it all on cards, whatever was left. Well, I won five thousand bucks. Could've had to walk home barefoot, though. Yeah, I really would start it all over. Yeah, there's heaps of competition. See, I have a wife and kids. And then, you get bored if you're doing nothing."
Doing this business, Ivan Vassilievich nurtured ten experts, and they've been working for him for six years now. You'll never find glass cutting or polishing experts like his, he says.
Today, Ivan Vassilievich's company has three associates.
More ovens, architectural glass, new glass molds, and unique tables and cabinets seem to be arriving pretty soon... So, watch the market. If you run across a coffee table "from Italy", that then know they're no longer importing any from Italy, for the ones from Ivan Vassilievich way cheaper. Also, his tables may turn out to be of much better quality.
Today, Ivan Vassilievichno longer changes professions. He has built a small universe around himself, "and yet it moves!"
The tale was narrated by Svetlana Aleksandrovna Tutova, director of Rara Avis, a Kharkiv consulting company
INSIDE A BUSINESS CAMPAIGN
Drawing up a program together with the company's management:
Defining Mission of the company and its announced social purpose.
Developing mutually aligned images for the management of the company as a whole, and goods and services provided by the company.
Preparing speeches for executives at negotiations and for the media.
Arranging contacts of the company's management with authorities, partners, and non-commercial organizations.
Setting up presentations, meetings, exhibitions, seminars and press conferences.
Predicting crises and planning damage prevention measures.
Involvement in allocating PR budget.
Valuation of the trademark's image in non-financial terms.
Program on competitors:
Keeping records of successful and unsuccessful advertising and PR campaigns conducted by competitors.
Attracting customers of competitors through legal means.
Developing a program for the company's employees:
Involvement in selecting personnel (the ones to work with the customers).
Coaching personnel into effectively working with customers and partners.
Development and implementation of corporate standards.
Conducting internal competitions e.g. for the best advertising idea, etc.
Planning the company's participation in trade exhibitions and competitions.
Gathering and keeping information on the history of the company.
Endorsing any documentation to be published for the customers at large.
Preventing false rumors.
Development and implementation of a program for the company's customers:
Research into the positive and negative stereotypes of customers and prospective customers.
Positioning of the company's goods and services for the customer (forming a habit of asking for your exact company's products).
Correcting negative stereotypes with customers.
If there is an objective need to do so, exclusion of unsuitable customers.
Conducting events for attracting new customers and keeping existing ones.
Preparing the ground for announcements of raising prices and other financial issues (changes in financial policy).
Sponsorship issues and declining sponsorship.
Program on Partner Interaction:
Explaining the company's long-term goals and policy.
Dispelling wrong notions or unsubstantiated fears; correcting negative stereotypes.
Tailored work on forming the company's image with opinion leaders.
Gaining creditworthiness for the company with authorities and partners.
Program on Press Interaction:
Tracking scheduled publication of advertisements.
Preventing conflicts with the press.
Promptly responding to the press publishing discreditable material.
Depending on the image strategy development program, its implementation may take half a year or longer.
CONSULTING SUPPORT OF ELECTION CAMPAIGNS
Research into the best techniques to influence the situation:
"Creating a Legend: Image of a Hero".
Lobbying; working with the media.
Preparing for meetings with electors:
- "10-minute speech",
- "3-minute speech",
- Non-verbal :)
Developing the keynote of a campaign:
- finding the best ways to inform the community;
- forming the necessary attitude;
- creating the image of a candidate in demand under the current political conditions;
- consolidating the required attitudes;
- conducting an image campaign.
Developing a personal image concept:
- Facial expressions,
- Psychologist services,
- Fashion designer services,
- Stylist services.