Looking Good vs. Doing Good

In the world of public relations, it is about more than just fact – perception matters. The goal of any PR campaign is to make the person, company, organization, or goal seem to be as good and favorable as it can be, and keep its positives and popularity at a high mark. This is especially true when it comes to charitable groups and organizations, since the perception of achieving something important feeds more support to do more good. A charity that does great works, but doesn’t come off as being successful or providing help is not likely to continue to get the assistance from volunteers and donors that they count on.

Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5W Public Relations, a world-renowned PR firm based in New York City, knows that perception and faith are both vital. Sometimes, it’s a complicated line. For example, if a famous person lends their image or their words in support of cause, are they actually doing good, or just using the attachment with a charity to look good? Yes, actors, musicians, reality show stars, and performers of all stripes want to be liked by the public, so a little good PR goes a long way. Are they really helping the cause?

In some cases, these glitterati dive into charitable work, raising money and awareness, volunteering their time, and even talking to world leaders about the importance of their cause. For others, it’s just a quick photo-op or voice over, then back to their lives. In that instance, is that looking good, or actually doing good? Ultimately, it is always both. If Brad Pitt agrees to let his image be used with a campaign to end world hunger, even if Mr. Pitt himself doesn’t donate or do work for the group, he raises awareness for the cause, and allows the charitable organization to raise money and draw in support using his name. Does it make Mr. Pitt seem even more charitable? Yes. Does it actually do some good? Depending on how the public relations campaign uses him, yes, it absolutely can.

However, there are the disingenuous out there. BP’s donations to wildlife groups after the Gulf Coast oil spill were meant to be good press, especially since it was so much less than the costs of the actual cleanup, and less than the amount they could have been held liable for in a court of law. It did do some good, but it was more cosmetic than functional. Charities need to use every resource they can, and let people know they are succeeding, because when they look good, they can get the means to achieve more doing good, and that’s a very good thing.