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Sometimes You Have to Crack an Egg

I can’t imagine a business owner giving up $500 a month over a 33-cent item.

At least, I couldn’t until I heard Todd Duncan’s story on The EntreLeadership Podcast about a restaurant refusing to put a fried egg on his hamburger.

The manager couldn’t make the change because the eggs were intended for another special. Because of the confusion, she offered to pay his $70 bill – and lose his repeat business – rather than crack an egg.

As Duncan noted, it was an example of an employee thinking the rules outweigh the outcome. He argues today’s customers want something better. They want an emotional connection, which leads to higher loyalty and stronger sales.

Duncan found a great example down the street at Whole Foods. Employees immediately said they could find a way AND asked exactly how he wanted the egg. Duncan credits Whole Foods’ founder John Mackey for putting his employees in what they call “the yes world.”

The story made me think about my industry. People used to have a pretty narrow view of public relations: We cranked out news releases and internal memos, called editors and reporters, and got the right people to parties.

Our world encompasses much more now. We seek to understand every aspect of our clients’ businesses so we can collaborate on good strategic decisions. And, of course, we still advise on the right ways and places to share those messages.

PR had to change. We had to learn to say yes to the things our clients needed, whether it meant becoming video producers, data analysts or social media wizards.

In everything we do, it’s about achieving our clients’ goals, and finding ways they can please their customers, donors and other stakeholders.

Today, PR is about helping our clients figure out when to follow the rules, and when to flip their thinking to the bigger picture.

It can be complicated and scary, but I know what Candor says when we get a new request: Let’s get cracking!

Aligning the Walk and Talk

Sometimes threats to reputation arise from unexpected circumstances. Sometimes they don’t.

Wells Fargo’s recent troubles didn’t suddenly appear due to a few rogue employees. They were the result of poorly crafted compensation incentives. Volkswagen’s legal and reputation issues weren’t due to overbearing U.S regulations. They were the result of missing compliance controls in their software implementation process. In addition to horribly damaged reputations, the losses these companies face is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

PR professionals are often placed in the position of trying to salvage reputations damaged by management or operational dysfunction. In such crises, most PR firms can do little more than deflect attention, slow the bleeding or ease the pain. At Candor, true to our brand, we advise our clients to communicate transparently, and we help fix underlying problems.

Candor started as a traditional PR firm. But we soon realized our experience in business consulting allowed us to help businesses get to the heart of what makes their organizations function, and help them fix problems before damage is done. So we opened a subsidiary called Candor Performance to provide business consulting services — to help our clients better walk their talk.

These kinds of problems can be traced to a misalignment between two or more of the following areas of the organizational body: strategy, structure, people, processes or culture. And much like a patient in need of a chiropractor when the body is misaligned, adjustments can alleviate the pain and return the patient to a state of organizational health and wellness.

In this manner, we have served companies large and small in almost 50 industries. And we believe we offer a unique value to the clients we serve.