What It Means to be in the Relationship Business

I expect honesty. I expect goodness. I expect people to be kind and thoughtful and have good intentions.

I assume the world is a good place and people are good at their core. And even when they behave badly, I try to see past it to what hurt, unfairness or insecurity could propel a person to act badly.

Everywhere I go, I speak about the power of relationships to build business. I believe it to the center of my being.

When I created my business in 2007, I believed if companies and nonprofits could authentically, sincerely fill a void in the lives of its constituents, they’d grow loyalty and brand awareness.

But you have to mean it. You have to actually care.

So when a relationship I thought I had nurtured turned out to not be as above-board as I am, let’s just say I was pissed off. And then disappointed.

I work hard to do well, and do good, and on behalf of my clients, build honest, mutually beneficial relationships that serve everyone. I will not veer from that mission.

But when a media source decides to pull a fast one, I put down my hand. Game over. You can tell me anything. You can even tell me you’re going to dig for a story my client might not like. If you’re straight, and honest, and above-board, I’ll understand and respect you for it.

Don’t sneak around. Don’t lie. Don’t tell me you mean one thing when really you mean another.

The damage is far deeper than hurt feelings or a breakdown in the foundation of trust (which is not a small thing). I won’t ever look at you the same way, or your publication for that matter.

The job of a public relations pro is not to kiss ass or bullshit our way to get our clients into print. Our job is to build authentic, meaningful relationships so that we can be straight with one another, and help each other do good work that helps a lot of people.

That’s the bottom line. If your heart’s not in the right place, I guess there’s nothing I can do. When I take on a client, I become like a mother bear – protective, nurturing, a guiding light. I’ll call a client on bad behavior too, but that’s because we have the rapport that you need to make meaningful change.

So don’t tussle with me and don’t pull a fast one. I’m not afraid. I’m pissed off. And that is never a good place to start.

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