Research: The Key to Good Public Relations

Recently Zappos®, the online shoe and clothing store, has recently made an interesting announcement in regards to how it will structure its management. They will be doing away with the typical manager above employee hierarchy that we are used to in the business world. Instead they will implementing what is called Holacracy. A Holacracy is a managerial system based on distribution of authority. There won’t be a manager to report to anymore at Zappos®. Employees will “share” responsibility and power.

The real issue here isn’t their structure change, it is how they are handling public relations between executives, employees and the public at large. Management had perceived that there was a growing number of employees that didn’t like this new idea and decided to be fair with their workers. The company decided that to avoid backlash and dissention among employees they would grant a window of time to quit the company and receive 3 months’ pay as severance. So far over 200 employees have taken the offer. The problem is that most of those that took the offer aren’t leaving because of the company’s change. Most report leaving due to the fact that it’s currently a great job market to seek new opportunities, and they can get three months’ pay without working for it.

This public relations campaign is a prime example of why we do more thorough research to understand a company’s employee’s opinions more fully before enacting any plans regarding them. Yes this plan Zappos® carried out can still engender good opinions from the public, but the company ended up spending a lot of money due to a faulty understanding of what they thought their employees wanted.

Well-informed and thought out plans of action are usually the best to follow. To simply hear rumor and speculation and immediately make decisions based on a narrow glimpse of a situation tends to lead us to error. As public relations specialists, it’s up to us to find out all that there is to know within a situation so that the plans and recommendations we come up with are truly in the best interest of those involved; especially the interests of our client or company.


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