Think your job is hard?
Try being a public relations person for one of these companies or organizations.
Airline: You work for an industry that is not just distressed, but reviled by a large segment of the population. Your company either now charges to check baggage or has stopped giving out free drinks. At least once each year, you have to deal with a winter storm that cripples your business, leaves thousands of passengers stranded and results in a seemingly endless supply of sob or angry stories. Customer service is virtually nonexistent at your company (at least that’s what your customers say) and your job may be on the line because without a merger, your company is going to fail. Don’t get me started on the TSA.
Oil company: The only people who professionally love you are your co-workers, your company’s shareholders and lobbyists. You can never win an argument—regardless of whether you are correct—because rising gas prices are sacrilegious to virtually everyone in the country. You’re constantly under attack from consumer groups, politicians and environmentalists, and everyone else blames their economic problems on your industry.
The White House: At least half the country doesn’t believe a word you say, and there’s a good chance at any given moment that at least half of the country hates your boss. You have to deliver more bad news than good news, and the press corps tires of you after about a year on the job. Even when you do something right, a thousand voices will tell you that you’re wrong.
Walmart: Your company is the scourge of the consumerist age and there’s nothing you can do about it. Big is bad and Walmart is one of the biggest dogs on the planet. Try as you might to convince people that your company is good for the economy, your critics will always point to low wages, sparse benefits, the muscling out of mom-and-pop stores and the big-boxing of our communities.
National bank or financial services firm: It’s likely that the CEO of your company has recently been forced out and that you’ve had to sell a large chunk of equity to foreign-government owned investment funds. Your employer was instrumental in the subprime implosion and credit crisis. Your customers are tired of outrageous fees and predatory practices.
Private equity firm: Your firm went out and bought three companies last year, loaded them up with debt, cut jobs and is now looking to sell them. Critics say that your bosses are using the tax code to cheat the government out of profits and take home huge paychecks. Your firm is responsible for employing several hundred-thousand people but at the end of the day the bottom line is all that matters. There’s not much positive you can say because the whole purpose of your business is to make a lot of money for a select few.
The Pentagon: No one has ever quite trusted what comes out of your mouth, and you don’t have any reason to trust the press. The average citizen feels that you obfuscate the truth more often than not and you’ve got to be careful what you say because if you say too much, lives could be on the line. If you get good press, you’re accused of manipulation.
Recording Industry Association of America: The group of companies that make up your organization is suffering a slow, agonizing death and its consumers absolutely hate you. Your organization’s only remedy was intrusive lawsuits that often inaccurately target people who have no clue what you’re talking about, not to mention creating lots of bad press. You cry about piracy and no one, not even other intellectual property owners, cares about your side of the story. To be honest, I can’t recall the last story I’ve read on this organization. It’s seem keeping a low profile and becoming less important has become the new normal.
There are certainly more challenging companies and organizations out there for a PR professional; these were just some that came to mind.
Share your thoughts on the most challenging companies, organizations, or industries below.