According to the definition on the CIPR website, Public Relations is about reputation management.
“Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
This definition is one that was drummed into my head while studying PR and although there are many other variations, essentially, they all mention reputation and communication between an organisation and its publics. It is a wonder then, that some organisations make silly mistakes when it comes to their own reputation management.
I have lost count of the amount of jobs, internships and grad schemes that I have applied to this year, but I am certain that the number is a three figured one. There are many jobs that I have not had any reply from, some rejection emails and then some that have led to interviews. Yesterday I received a rejection letter from a big drinks brand with regards to my application for a communications executive. I had forgotten about the application due to it being over two months old.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I am firing off my CV without thought to any advert that I see. While I did forget about this application, should the email have called me for an interview I would have been able to respond in an appropriate manner as I have a record of all the jobs that I applied for, the method used (CV, cover letter, application form or a combination) and the job descriptions.
However, this did get me thinking about past applications and interviews and I realised that the ones that were at the forefront of my mind were not the ones that I missed out on, the ones that I really wanted, but the ones that had neglected to give me any form of response either following an interview or repeated communication to the organisation from myself.
In my second year at Uni I contacted a small PR agency with my CV and cover letter which explained why I wanted to work for them and what I thought I could bring to the team. I received no response. A year later, in the summer before my placement year I also contacted the agency again. Again I received no response. I applied to them again this summer. Guess what, I received no response. (I would like to point out at this stage that with each application came a new cover letter, an improved CV and a reminder that I had applied in the past.)
Now, at the beginning of the application process, I had a lot of respect for this company but with each application this has dwindled. I recently came across the company on Twitter and I sent them a message asking about their internship opportunities. I actually got a response, but I was told to apply through the channels that I had previously used! I did not take the time to apply again.
My experience with this company has left me with a very bad view of them and I highly doubt that I would take the time to apply to them in the future. I have also vented to anyone that would listen about how I disappointed and annoyed I am about the whole situation.
I understand that they may have hundreds of applications for their internship and that it may take time to go through them all, but in the three years that I have applied the application process and first point of contact have not changed. It makes me wonder if there are others in a similar situation or if I was just unlucky and the company dislike my method and my persistence.
My next example of bad reputation management is from a large central London company. The difference here being that my CV and cover letter landed me an interview before the neglect started. Following what I thought was a successful interview for another internship position, I sent a thank you email to the person that interviewed me. One phone call and three emails later, I have still had no response or feedback from the company.
These cases are in the minority and in general I have had good feedback from interviews that I have been on. But these instances do make me wonder, if the company in question don’t treat potential employees with respect, then how do they treat their clients? And if they cannot manage their own reputation well how can they even begin to manage it for someone else?