4 Lessons Public Relations Professionals Can Take from the Government Shutdown: Guest Post by Christina Elia

On October 1, 2013 the United States Government shutdown causing large amounts of unsatisfied Americans across the nation. The senate and the white house failed to break the budget standoff over President Obama’s Affordable Health Care law. This resulted in 800,000 federal workers were to be furloughed and more than a million others were asked to work without pay. In the world of Public Relations this could be thought of as crisis situation. It is the duty of the PR professionals to make sure the public remains in a positive relationship with the government. It is important for the public to not lose trust in the government. This government shut down can be used to teach every public relations professional a lesson. The following points are four lessons every public relations professional can take from the 2013 government shutdown.

Don’t procrastinate when it comes to Deadlines:
On October 17, 2013 the United States Government will hit the debt ceiling and exhaust its borrowing authority, something that most economists agree will have bad consequences, ranging from a rise in mortgage rates to the destruction of the global economy. If congress misses this deadline to come to an agreement on the health care bill, this could be detrimental to the people of the United States.
If a public relations professional misses a deadline it will not cause a financial outrage however it will cause your boss or client to be upset. For example if a press release is missed vital information about your client could be looked over resulting in negative feedback from your client. The worst result is losing your client resulting in loss in revenue and ultimately hurting your company’s image all because time was not managed correctly. Learn from what congress has not done yet and if you see a deadline in the near future, allocate your time accordingly.

Do engage your whole team:
In Federalist #10, James Madison wrote about the dangers of factionalism. Today our two dominant political parties, the republicans and the democrats, are farther apart than ever. It is obvious that it is hard to govern one nation when the two main components are on two separate worlds. That can be seen in the most recent government shutdown as well. Two political parties that should be working as one are blaming each other for the shutdown. The same goes for a public relations team, it is hard to work on one project when all members have opposing ideas. It is even worse when the team rarely interacts with each other.
Building a team that works well together could determine your success in your public relations career. This will help generate even better ideas and results for your client. It is never a bad idea to learn more about your co-workers, especially what their specific strengths and weaknesses are.

Do compromise:
Interestingly enough, a recent poll found that Congress is less popular then hemorrhoids, cockroaches, and dog poop. This is believed to be because they simply cannot “meet in the middle.” The public is giving up because we have not seen even a hinting for a resolution because both sides cannot come together and figure things out.
In the world of public relations it is inevitable that you will come across people with different view then you. It is important to stand by your ideas, especially if they are good ideas that will benefit your company, however it is also important to compromise with coworker and maybe put your ideas together to make one exceptional idea. It is reality that someone is going to have a better idea then you and it is important to make sure you take their idea into consideration so that you can succeed.   

Don’t miss the small details:
Despite the negative connotation of the government shutdown, few positives have come from it. One positive is that Congress and President Obama came together to pass a bill ensuring that United States soldiers will continue to receive their pay checks. However, a very important detail was left out of this bill. They failed to provide the death benefits for the families of soldiers who lost their lives serving our country.  Missing this small detail resulted in the legislature racing around to attempt to provide these benefits just a week after the government shutdown.
The same holds true for public relations professionals. It is easy to miss the small details when dealing with a big project. That is why it is extremely important to have another person edit your work. Whether it is a presentation that will be presented to the client or a simple press release, you should always edit your work making sure that there are no errors and every piece of vital information is included. An editor can be your best friend. 

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