Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Michigan 'Right to Work' Starts External PR

A full page ad appeared in yesterday's Wall Street Journal under the bold headline "What Happens When Michigan Makes History." The headline and copy are similar to what appears on a new micro site (michigan.org/rtw) from Pure Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The ad and site tout the recent right-to-work legislation signed by Governor Snyder as "a once-in-a-generation transformation" that has Michigan "poised to become the preferred place to do business."

It makes sense to tout this, since that is the argument advocates of the law made all along. But what is interesting from a PR perspective is that the law was controversial inside the state. One wonders if business owners and site selection specialists will also consider the negative detractors that are also part of the state's business environment, regardless of the new law. You can see the mixed bag of opinion on the issue with a simple Google search on "right to work Michigan."

But, in PR you are always going to have detractors, and you can't always please all publics. There is often a dynamic of external messages not reflecting all internal attitudes. Businesses have to balance employee, customer, investor and other public concerns. Non-profits have competing interests from donors, board members, community leaders and volunteers. Certainly in politics there will be variance in issue opinion. Leadership requires staking a position and moving forward. How that's done is what requires communication ethics and savvy, and why PR is a management function.

In this case, time will tell if the "right to work" law and subsequent campaign will be successful. Union membership and new business in the state will speak louder than ads and web sites.

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