#BEDM17 The call to PR: too late or too early?

I’m blogging every day in May, for no particular reason other than I can. I’ve come up with 31 topics and I’m going to bash on my keyboard about each of them. If you enjoy them then you’re welcome; if you don’t, then why are you still here?

Today’s another of those posts where the title’s been in my head for a while, but I’ve never quite managed to put the words down. Maybe my #BEDM17 ‘write and publish’ approach will make it easier?

It’s something that at work I’m plagued with. Some people think that communications about a project should be a healthy step ahead of the reality while others are cautious to the point of concern.

There are risks either way: if you’re doing things no one else is then talking about them is a scary thing. It can go wrong, it can end up not happening or – even worse I think – when real people start hearing about it they can point out the down sides you’d not considered.

On the other hand, going too late carries a risk too because there’s a good chance that by the time you are confident talking about it someone else will have already done it, talked about it and made what you’re doing seem either normal or copy-cat-ish.

And that’s even before you consider the internal aspects: stakeholders’ objectives are often the complete reverse of one another, and the opinions of what you’re doing, introducing or changing ‘on the ground’ might not match with what you want to say too.

This is especially true of technology projects, where the tech might be good and even delivering good outcomes like you’d hoped, but the experience of using them – for someone who has done it the other way for 30 years – isn’t seen an improvement.

Sometimes it’s possible to manage them all: I pushed for the ‘go earlier’ approach on one particular announcement a few months ago and the coverage was great, even being picked up for a discussion by a professional body with some more positive coverage and discussion around it on Facebook.

It was, undoubtedly, positive for reputation.

But I had to manage internal issues for more than a month after, because the view internally was that it had made a bad impression and what we’d said was ‘spin’.

I’ve been through and checked and everything that’s been included in the release we sent out can be backed up with data. The release was signed off as it should’ve been, too.

So while it achieved my objective of scoring positive coverage for an achievement, it’s probably made things more difficult for line managers and perhaps even caused a ‘them and us’ situation.

It’ll probably make getting the next release signed off that title bit harder.

Going earlier isn’t always the right call, but in this case I think I’d not have been doing my job right to let it get delayed.

It’s a tough one.

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee via Foter.com / CC BY

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