There is a saying that all PR is good PR. But is it really? If I was Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan, I certainly wouldn’t want my parents to be reading about my drunken escapades online or in their morning newspaper.
As a small business owner, large outlets like the New York Times or Chicago Tribune seem like unattainable media placements. Their interest usually lies with breaking news, global events or city-centric foci on economic or political issues. So why would they have any interest in a relatively uneventful business like Dogs Deserve It?
In January, I was forwarded a possible media lead from a good friend. The Associated Press was looking for businesses to discuss how the frigid winter affected them. Running a business that is largely based outdoors, we have wholeheartedly been affected by the freezing temps. I contacted the reporter and to my surprise, she emailed back.
The next day we spoke for almost an hour about dogs, cats, business, our mutual dislike for the polar vortex among other matters. After hanging up the phone, I felt confident that the interview well and that a positive connection was made.
Sure enough, we landed a huge AP placement that was featured all throughout the country. Before I knew it, clients and friends alike were sending me pictures of my dog walker, myself and Guido.
Yes, I was glad the article got traction but I have to admit that I had my trepidations revealing that the weather negatively impacted our business. Did I want to put all of this information out for the general public and competitors to dissect? Was this PR good PR for us?
I was overwhelmed by polarizing opinions in response to the article. Some people thought I never should have divulged the details I did. Others were just ecstatic to see Guido on the front page of their newspaper! Either way, the choice was mine and I stood by it.
I have always run my business with a large amount of transparency. I want my clients to know that what I tell them is 100% true and that our policies, morals and standards as a business are what we tell them. If someone is starting a dog walking business and needs my help, I am always glad to help them and provide my honest insight. I am not afraid they will steal new business or customers. I genuinely want to help them succeed and consequently have been blessed with wonderful referral relationships with most dog walking companies.
In that same vain, I felt that it would benefit both clients and other small businesses to know that all companies go through tough times caused by unforeseen elements. Clients often times are not privy to how something like the weather can have such a dramatic effect on their walkers. I hoped that this knowledge made them more appreciative when walkers come out during rain, sleet, snow or polar vortexes to walk their beloved children.
I also hoped that other businesses would like to know that we too have experienced financial loss and hardship. In a culture where businesses are so secretive and afraid to look vulnerable, I felt the need to step out…show them that vulnerability is not always a bad thing. In my opinion, not much can be gained without showing others that you can admit fault and need for improvement. What’s important is how we are dealing with the circumstances we are dealt with. We will now be amply prepared with dozens of hand warmers and drivers to dole out should another deep freeze come:)
So I go back to the question I started with in the beginning. Is all PR good PR? I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder. In this case, I think we made a good decision and besides, Guido is kind of famous now!:)