03/07/2012

By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator Of PrPro And Owner Of Energy PR

Jimmy Carr was recently fighting off major criticism for having avoided a hefty tax bill by using the K2 tax avoidance scheme. While not illegal, its use meant Carr was theoretically paying as little as 1% on his considerable earnings.

Tax avoidance is nothing new so why did everyone get so cross about Jimmy Carr’s activity? One problem was that not so long ago he’d been criticising Barclays for not paying enough tax – so the revelations about his own financial arrangements stuck in the craw. However the fundamental problem for the funny man was not so much this hypocrisy but that the K2 incident undermined his position with the audience.

What do I mean by this?

The premise for a comic is that he or she is on our side. They’re our wittier alter-ego, fighting our corner. They’re poking a stick in the eye of the establishment, setting the powerful up for ridicule. We kind of know the successful comedians will be rich – after all with stadium tours, DVD sales and hugely successful autobiographies so many comics are - but we do object to them rubbing our noses in it, reminding us wholeheartedly that they’re really not one of us after all. Jimmy Carr’s financial sophistication did just that. He appeared more like the fat cats he’d been condemning than our funny friend.

But what has all of this got to do with your business, your brand, your PR I hear you ask?

Well there is a lesson and it’s this. Just like Jimmy Carr, you must think about your position with your audience. What is the dynamic that makes that relationship work?

Whether you have thought about it or not, trust me that dynamic, of you, your audience and the position you have in their minds is firmly in place. You will have a reputation and if it’s a reputation that makes people buy from you rather than your competitors it’s a reputation that needs protecting.

Whether your position is that of the high tec player, the market leader, the innovator, the low cost provider, the reliable company, the friendly family firm, or the go-getting new kid on the block, you must recognise the qualities and traits expected of you. Then you must ensure that your business (or someone in it) isn’t doing anything to undermine that position.

After all...while Jimmy Carr will probably with some ease remedy his situation and win over his fans through a mix of apology, contrition and searing humour, for companies it isn’t so easy. Once you have lost your audience’s trust, it is incredibly tough and expensive to win them back.

The scale of that task is no laughing matter!

Louise has two businesses to help get your PR motoring:
If you are looking for a great PR agency visit www.EnergyPR.co.uk
For more PR training and tools so you can do your own PR visit www.prpro.co.uk

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