Not WHAT but HOW she said.
How do you like the Cofix case?
A couple of days ago, Yulia Kovaleva, PR Director of the Russian branch of Cofix, made a high impact post on her Instagram. In the video Yulia harshly addressed the heads and employees of advertising agencies giving them instructions on how to contact her and demanding not to invade her personal space. Cofix PR Director’s message caused real public outcry and a lot of indignation on social media. But what’s wrong with outlining the rules to make cooperation more structured?
Valeria Mingova, founder of PR Doctor, comments on the situation and work in PR in general.
I’m convinced that the form of the message is more important than the essence of the given information. I always remember what the great Russian writer and philosopher Grigory Pomerants said: “The devil is born from an angel spitting in rage… People and systems crumble to dust, but the spirit of hate, bred by the champions of good, is immortal and thus evil on Earth knows no end. I found another truth — the manner of the debate is more important than the object of the debate. Objects come and go, while manners form the building blocks of civilizations”.
But for some reason, this great idea either doesn’t reach people, or is considered insignificant.
For the last two days, my Instagram feed, Telegram channels, even the media (my Goodness — the radio station Komsomolskaya Pravda created a broadcast devoted to this!) have been revolving around the video of the PR director of #Cofix. She told how sales agents of agencies should contact her with suggestions (though now they say she is not PR Director, not even a PR specialist, but this is unlikely).
There seems to be nothing special, she just made things clear: write to this address and in this format, don’t write to this email, etc. But her statement tore apart everyone! Why? Because of the tone, manner and form.
What does this story teach us? (Let’s imagine we’re back to school).
a) I will never stop repeating — people (especially those who work in PR) should be very careful with their statements. Especially in social networks, speeches, columns. If you want to convey something to the target audience or teach somebody wisdom, pay great attention to the form of your message. Future PR specialists (actually, any specialists) should be taught this at university. They should also be taught to think critically, but that’s another story;)
b) PR employees don’t have personal space during working hours. Unfortunately, PR managers can’t say: “I won’t read your letters, don’t write to me!” Instead, they have to read any letters from anyone, and even answer some of them.
Of course, one can indicate some details, like where to write to and how to do that: “Write to my work email address, please, and don’t write to me on Instagram or messengers”. But this “personal space” concept doesn’t exist in PR specialists’ work.
c) A PR manager’s opinion is always associated with the company he/she works for. You can’t just add a note: “This is my personal opinion, not the company’s”. Any opinion of yours automatically becomes the voice of the company, so PR managers should think twice (thrice or more times) before making public statements.
So, the situation for sure doesn’t seem to be pleasant for all the participants — both Yulia and her followers (not to mention Cofix!). Yet I think Yulia has had enough criticism and people should stop getting at her. I must admit working in PR is really stressful and one can lose temper when the workload gets too big to handle. Besides, Yulia might be going through hard times, which is pretty likely with this pandemic situation. Of course, I’m not justifying the PR Director’s rash act — I just hope such aggressive behavior isn’t characteristic of her and such an ugly situation won’t repeat itself anymore.