Some things, like porn and public relations, are notoriously difficult to define.
In 1964, Supreme court Justice Potter Stewart famously opined on the definition of obscenity when he wrote, “…I’ll know it when I see it…”.
I think the same can be said for PR. You may not be able to recite a textbook definition, but you’ll know it when you see it.
If something gets you talking about a company, its products, people or services, then in my opinion it’s PR. Sometimes a carefully crafted campaign sparks the conversation. Other times PR springs from an unexpected part of your business… like customer service.
Recently, while driving across South Dakota with my boss, we decided to refuel and grab some lunch in Oacoma. As I pulled off the interstate he specifically directed me to the Shell station which was located across the highway from the convenience store and fast food place we were planning to visit.
“Why not fill up where we’re going to eat?” I asked.
“Because the owners are great people and I like to give them business,” was his answer.
Sure enough, as soon as we walked in the owner gave my boss a warm greeting and even asked about his elderly parents who had stopped with him only once before! They talked about business, the weather and the upcoming election like old friends. I was amazed not only how the owner remembered a customer she only sees periodically but how many details she retained.
Great customer service? Absolutely. Good public relations? You bet.
It got a customer talking, starting a positive buzz that continues even now as their story spreads on this blog, Facebook and Twitter. And the next time I’m in Oacoma, you know I’m stopping at Dakota Shell.
That looks like the definition of good PR to me.