The government wouldn’t listen. The company was being savaged in the media. Its local plant was shut and several hundred workers were at the mercy of bureaucrats including inspectors of their food products. The PR people were frustrated.
Suddenly, the PR team became excited and was able to see some light at the end of the really dark and scary tunnel. A ‘source’ told us the government minister in the middle of the mess was coming to town. He would meet with citizens gathered in a school gym. He would try to tell them why they were in danger of losing their jobs, why they wouldn’t be able to feed their own families.
The PR team got to work on an extraordinary idea. A news release was written. It stated that the minister was on his way and would make a statement about a deal that had been reached with the company. There was suddenly hope the workers would go back to their jobs and the plan would re-open.
A team member reached the minister’s deputy. “Here’s what we’re sending out on the wires,” he said and read the release over the telephone.
“We haven’t made a deal,” blurted the deputy. “You can’t say that.” Then he added that the minister might not be coming our way. That was a lie. “Well, are you denying there is a deal underway?” the deputy was asked. “Uh… no…I’ll get back to you.”
Five minutes later, the Deputy was back on the line. “The minister will be in your town very soon and we are looking at a deal with the company.”
“Okay,” said our guy, “So we can say the deal is done?”
“I didn’t say that,” the deputy stammered.
“Well, this is our next release,” we said. “Bye, bye.”
Another five minutes, another call from the capital. Magically, the deal between the government and the company was in place. “Marvelous,” we said.
Awhile later, the minister and a company representative sat with the Mayor, the plant manager and other selected dignitaries to announce the doing of a deal that ended the standoff and re-opened the plant. The men and women in the audience were going back on the line. They would get paid again.
And, finally, a real and positive news release went out from the PR team making the government, the company and the town look good. The crisis was over. A case where the means did justify the end… we think. But, then, public relations, governing and running companies are inexact sciences, aren’t they?