Biro: Don't let pressure throw off your game

Today, brands are more likely to respond quickly before a proper decision is made, sometimes due to the amount of pressure being exerted on them. It needn't be that way.

Tom Biro, Allison+Partners
Tom Biro, Allison+Partners

I’ll be honest; I was hesitant to even write this column, but here goes.

Recently, a journalism-related uproar has taken place specifically around the gaming scene. It has been hostile at times and involves individuals, news outlets, and brands alike. We’ll just call it "issue that needs not be named" for now.

Without picking "sides" here (and there are sides), it’s apparent that brands – our companies and clients – are being pulled even more deeply than ever into conversations and protests against publications, political organizations, and even other brands. Even more important, these activities are happening more quickly than ever before – and therein lies the rub.

Social and digital have always added "oomph" to any particular topic, positive or negative. Nowadays, however, it’s not uncommon for someone to raise a stir as the East Coast starts work in the morning and have it be entirely too late for a West Coast response, whereas it used to be days or even weeks later. Because of this, we’ve all become a little trigger happy when we should really continue employing the same methods, protocols, and processes (whatever we call them at our places of business) we normally would, with a slightly accelerated pace.

Pressure on our companies, our clients, comes from all sorts of places today. Many of us have our work and personal information readily available on the Web. As such, it’s not uncommon to receive a dozen emails or tweets in a matter of minutes when a business issue comes up. Years ago, we would have prepared a holding statement or handled things with any responsible journalist by asking what their deadline was, if we could gather the necessary information, and get back to them ASAP. Today, brands are more likely to respond quickly before a proper decision is made, sometimes due to the amount of pressure being exerted on them. It needn’t be that way, however.

In the particular issue I reference at this column's outset, companies advertising on certain online publications have been contacted by various individuals pushing for those ad dollars to be pulled in order to show support for one cause or another. We’re all aware of how easy it is to "turn on" a campaign. It’s just as easy to turn one "off" and it would typically be a safe decision to do something such as that until all the facts were brought to bear. Unfortunately, when both sides of any heated discussion are extremely passionate and ever-connected, both the "on" or "off" decisions have a downside, irrelevant of your intention – hence the need to take a moment, pull together all the details and facts we need, and make a smart recommendation on how to proceed.

Long story short, we should all continue to trust our judgment, take an appropriate – if accelerated – amount of time to make a decision, and, most importantly, understand the perspectives – or agendas – of those pushing for change within our businesses.

Tom Biro is VP of Allison+Partners' Seattle office. His column focuses on how digital media affects and shifts PR. He can be reached at or on Twitter @tombiro.

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