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Here's the Key to Spring the Lock of Limbo

By Mark Weiner

Originally Posted

During the past two weeks, I've spoken at three conferences in front of hundreds of people. Time after time at these events I've been approached with a familiar question: "For years, we've needed to measure our public relations ... and I want to. Our executives are beginning to require it. But what if the results show that we're not performing?” My response is always that, without objective third-party measurement, they may never know the extent of their accomplishments, or how to uncover opportunities for improvement. Research does, on rare occasion, validate failure. And sometimes this can be painful. But certainly nothing good comes from not taking the risk of learning the truth. Pain is our body's way of telling itself to do everything possible to help make us well again, and measurement acts similarly for business. Better to feel "the pain" -- hopefully for only a short time -- so that the process for improvement can begin. Limbo Ain't Only a Dance The worst choice of all is to choose not to know, to decide to not learn the truth. For this sorry state, the best metaphor I know is Limbo. The inevitable, unfortunate outcome of Limbo is that while you're there, the world accelerates without you; you are left behind by those who know where they are going. Yes, Limbo does have its advantages; there is little sharp pain in Limbo, only the dull throb of regret, uncertainty, and fear. But sticking your head in the sand is no way to run your business. If our hearts and minds are in the right place, we can escape Limbo here and now. Here are five tactics to leave Limbo behind:

  1. Speak out when change is needed, rather than saying nothing because you're afraid that no one will listen.

  2. Take charge, rather than waiting idly for the wheel of fortune to spin in your direction.

  3. Embrace challenges at the very moment that the going gets too interesting.

  4. Make the decisions that are necessary, rather than waiting and hoping that at least you'll never be wrong.

  5. Act now, while others commit to beginning tomorrow.

Master and Dominate These strategies are used by companies that understand and master their environments -- companies who dominate their worlds. They enjoy higher stock prices, attract better employees and achieve greater overall business success. The world's most admired companies didn't earn their reputations without carefully studying themselves in the mirror and then acting upon what they saw -- the ugly as well as the beautiful. So much can be gained professionally from applying research to public relations, including reduced risk in decision-making, positive change, professional advancement, and bigger budgets. Embrace and Relish Those companies and PR professionals who are new to the benefits of measurement often begin by performing a form of "slight of mind": They actually embrace their mistakes so that they may be identified, isolated, and corrected. Of course, in addition, they relish their victories, because their wins are validated and can be merchandised that much more credibly to those who fund PR programs. The only passage out of Limbo is a direct one. It has nothing to do with either masochism or a wanton disregard for consequences that might follow. Rather, it is a matter of becoming the master of your professional destiny, being fully awake, aware, and intelligent ... being truly professional.

© 2002, Delahaye Medialink. All rights reserved.

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