Why PR Needs a Negotiation Mindset

Unless you've been living under a rock, I think it's obvious to all by now that Donald Trump doesn't listen to outside PR counsel, or to anyone else for that matter. He is what he is - and pretty proud of it.Regardless of how you might feel about him and his latest book, Crippled America, it did make me curious to peek again at his 1987 best-known book, The Art of the Deal. It's curious that a personality so bold and committed to "my way or the highway" posturing actually offered a point of view on positioning and negotiation. This got me thinking about the similarities between truly skillful negotiation and best practice public relations.As it turns out, several have noted these similarities, and at a very young age. While a public relations student at Clemson, Alyssa Maute pointed out in her blog her class's observations on negotiation:

  • It involves at least two parties.
  • It is a give and take.
  • It is a win-win situation, in which both parties find a mutually acceptable solution to a complex situation.
  • It expresses a high concern for ourselves as well as a high concern for others.
  • It is a transformational process.
  • It creates value.
  • It is entered into by choice.
  • It involves interdependence: both parties need each other; a relationship between the parties is necessary.
  • It involves mutual adjustment: both parties have to change their initial wants.

And, as University of Oregon public relations student Melissa Bruinier pointed out in her blog, "proper communication is vital for negotiation to be favorable to both parties."So, whether advising the C-suite or pitching a media story, best practice public relations involves the need to think like an expert negotiator, taking the pulse of everyone impacted by an organization's decisions and declarations. That's why successful practitioners always have to balance the interests, needs and desires of the organization they're serving with those of other stakeholders. It's a negotiation mindset.Negotiation has become a lost art in our nation's capital, a fact that is well-documented and a contributor to what many would argue is our increasingly divided society. But the tenets of negotiation should never be lost on those of us who practice public relations. The best public relations programs always take into consideration truly "win-win" scenarios for both the organization and the interests of those audiences impacted by its decisions.Without this two-way sensitivity, public relations can devolve into hollow communication efforts that have no real value to customers, employees, media or other key audiences or the organization. Such insensitive efforts can actually hurt credibility and even reputation.In true public relations, value creation begins with a negotiation mindset. It's a great filter to use when developing your organization's pr strategy and programming.How does your public relations programming stack up against this negotiation mindset filter?