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PR and Problem Solving

In public relations, clients often request us to provide crisis communications and problem-solving skills to avert any negative situation and turn it into a positive one.

Problem-solving is a mental and sometimes subconscious process that includes discovering, analysing, and solving problems that may arise, with the ultimate goal being overcoming obstacles and finding the ideal solution.

In the past, PR professionals mainly focused on routine tasks to idealise the brand name in the public’s eye. Nowadays, with the growth of the business and population, competition is increasing, and we need to proactively provide problem-solving skills and strategies to avert any kind of negative situation once it arises.

Each client has different goals in mind, but shares one common one: enhancing visibility and making crises less visible to the public and media.

There are many different strategies to solve client problems, and the best strategy largely depends on the type of problem you are required to solve. At times, applying your creativity and insight may seem like the best solution, but it may not always work. More often than not, PR professionals are required to study the situation and then provide a solution from factual knowledge.

Applying psychology to the problem-solving cycle

First and foremost, PR experts need to identify the problem. Yes, it is an obvious step, but it is not always simple. Subconsciously, you may mistakenly identify an incorrect source, making your attempt to solve the problem inefficiently. To best identify the source, you need to do one thing: research.

After the source of your problem has been worked out, you must properly and fully define it so you can attempt to solve it. Defining your problem can be the hardest step, but the most important one, as you need to properly diagnose a situation, allowing you to focus on the actual problem and not the symptoms.

When the problem is accurately known, a strategy needs to be set based on approaches that vary, depending on the problem itself. This step includes research, gathering information, and organising them. As in all cases you can possibly think of, the more information available, the better you can solve the problem at hand.

Before attempting action, you need to determine its priority. Think of the 1–10 scale: rank the problem you are trying to solve on it, with one being the least problematic. The higher the problem ranks on the scale, the more resources you need to allocate to develop the ideal solution.

To be effective in solving things, you should monitor its progress when working on a solution. If at any step you realise that you are not making good progress, it is best to revaluate your approach or change the initial strategy.

The last and one of the most important steps is evaluating your results after the ideal solution is reached to appropriately identify if it is the ideal solution. This is the step that psychology really deepens by subconsciously tracking all the steps you used to reach the solution.

Antoine Boghos is Account Manager at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |