There is one client I always look forward to calling or visiting. The receptionist, who also handles all incoming calls, is unceasingly cheerful and professional. She is a valuable – and no doubt valued – employee. I hope she realizes how much she contributes to the success of the company she works for.
The people who are in charge of your front desk and answer your telephone play an extremely important role. They are the “public face” of the company – often creating a lasting first impression. They should be treated with respect, paid well and know how important you think their job is.
What does this have to do with public relations? PR is essentially reputation building and reputation management. “Perception is reality,” we often say. It’s difficult to see how much an executive really cares about his or her company’s image when the first – or even second or third – impression people receive is negative.
And don’t forget to keep your front desk people informed. You may get a call from a reporter wanting to do a positive story on news your PR person has sent out, but if you never communicate with the person who answers your phone, the reporter may get transferred all around the office and finally give up because no one knows what’s going on. (That’s why our firm does call list instructions for clients to distribute to their office staff, by the way.)
Smart company managers know this, but sometimes we all get so busy we forget to become objective observers of our work environment. To quote Scottish poet Robert Burns: “Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”