Ongoing Good Is Not a Strategy or a Tactic: It Is an Orientation.
By Thomas J. Roach
Good public relations is all about being good.
The word good has a rich history and many connotative meanings that are spread out over a good six pages in the Oxford English Dictionary. Of most significance for companies concerned with community relations is the meaning of good as in good will. This good is like a good wine. It has complex aromas.
They include virtue, integrity, honesty, honor and merit. Put another way, this good is the good of good reputations, the kind of good that is lacking in people or things that are no-good.
Everyone knows that it is good to be good. Some try to achieve good reputations by being real good and some by being fake good. The real good companies are rare. It costs money and takes time to be really good, so most companies settle for being apparently good.
They have little communication with their communities until something goes wrong, and then they try to tell everyone how many jobs they provide, that they really are abiding by the law even though it doesn’t seem that way, and that they always have the best interests of the community in mind.
The Cemex USA FEC Quarry in Miami, Fla., is good … real good. It received the 2018 Platinum Award for Excellence in Community Relations from the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. Kirk Light, Cemex USA regional president, accepted the award. “All of our operations in Florida are committed to developing long-lasting relationships in their communities while working in a responsible and sustainable fashion,” he said.
Light noted that Cemex strives to be a “good neighbor” in all the communities where it operates. It was a good choice of words, because there is a good deal of difference between being a neighbor and being a good neighbor. The good neighbor has a well-kept yard, doesn’t play loud music and loans you a cup of sugar. The bad neighbor never says hello, has a house that is an eyesore and throws garbage in your yard.
The good-neighborly FEC Quarry hosts tours of their facilities for the community, they invite other businesses and civic groups over for lunch, and they put lawmakers in touch with their employees so they can tell them firsthand about the value of the quarry industry.
Most importantly, FEC Quarry does these things on an ongoing basis.
Everyone does something good when it is necessary, when expectations are raised, and when people are watching. Conversely, those who do good on an ongoing basis are not driven by need. Ongoing good is not a strategy or a tactic: it is an orientation.
The ongoing good look for win-win scenarios. They listen to others. They take time to explain their actions. They help when they can, and they avoid doing harm. They prefer a good deal to a good deal.
The Greek and Roman orators understood this as good will. Will, as in will power, is something that emanates from within. Will initiates actions. Someone with good will always considers the impact of his or her decisions on others.
Building a good reputation, then, is a daily activity. Planning and budgeting community events and activities to share information and get feedback are required, of course. But more importantly, organizations that earn the benefits of good community relations consider community impact when making decisions. And they hire job candidates who understand the value of reputation and have a track record to prove it.
Greek rhetorician Isocrates said, “The argument which is made by a man’s life is of more weight than that which is furnished by words.” It was good advice then, and it is good advice now.
Have a good day.
Thomas J. Roach Ph.D., has 30 years experience in communication as a journalist, media coordinator, communication director and consultant. He has taught at Purdue University Northwest since 1987, and is the author of “An Interviewing Rhetoric.” He can be reached at [email protected].