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Of Mice and Men... and PR
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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The poet Robert Burns, who gave us the famed poem turned to song Auld Lang Syne (which we sing at New Year’s), authored a poem that gave rise to another oft-heard phrase. While plowing a field near his home in Scotland, he overturned a mouse’s nest. In the poem, To a Mouse (1786), he apologizes for damaging the creature’s home:
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.1
How many times have we, as flacks, had our carefully thought-out and consummately strategized media efforts come to naught? And what about companies who suddenly find themselves embroiled in the midst of controversy and need to execute crisis communications? How many times, indeed, have we had our best-laid plans go astray?
Recent history abounds in examples of organizations caught flat-footed and needing to develop crisis communications in a hurry. The BP oil rig fire crisis of a few years ago and the current scandals swirling about the Obama Administration are but a few.
As flacks, do we spend time thinking about establishing crisis communications plans and strategies and developing them? Do we do so in collaboration with our organization’s spokesperson, our CEOs, our CIOs, etc.? If we have not already developed crisis communications plans, there are plenty of resources out there online that can offer assistance.
The Boy Scouting movement’s motto is “Be Prepared.” Its founder, Lord Baden-Powel, was once asked why that was important and what it meant. His reply, somewhat paraphrased, was “Why, to be ready for anything that comes along.” Boy Scouting does indeed prepare young men for the challenges of whatever life hands them, both in nature and in life.
When your organization faces its next crisis (and it will), will you be PRepared?

1. Poem citation from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/the-best-laid-schemes-of-mice-and-men.html; last viwed 6/12/2013.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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