By Rob Addison, MPRINZ
I once worked with a senior highway project manager who would often say, “Integrity gives you power”.
What he meant by this was that when you’re working on a community project, you have to make decisions along the way that will impact stakeholders.
But if you’ve made every decision with the best intentions, you should feel able to address any questions your stakeholders throw at you with integrity – even if it’s not what they want to hear.
You can only satisfy some of the people some of the time …
The reality is that sometimes businesses and governments have to make unpopular decisions.
Good engineers and planners will do everything they can to come up with solutions that satisfy as many stakeholders as possible.
But it’s impossible to satisfy everyone. When that’s the case, public relations professionals must ensure that we have engaged our stakeholders early, honestly and with integrity.
But why should we engage them if they’re only going to oppose us?
As we know, what’s good for your reputation is good for business.
And when the media reports that your community project is going ahead, they will seek out those who are opposed to it.
So if your client or manager ever wonders why they should work closely with opponents, you can ask them this:
What’s going to be better for your reputation – the media reporting that the first your stakeholders heard about the project was when they picked up the phone?
Or that even if you couldn’t deliver what all of your stakeholders wanted, you at least worked closely with them along the way?
I know what that wise highway project manager would say.