Why asking why is the most important question.

Years ago in a job interview, I was asked “Would you be happy to send out a spoof or funny press release?”. My initial response was why? What would the strategic value of that be? What would it add to our relationship with journalists? How will it help the business? 

These are still questions I would ask today. Asking why is still my go to question – annoyingly for my husband, mother and business partners. When I am asked to help “raise awareness of an organisation” or “help a brand go viral”, I always ask why? What do you want to achieve from it? How will it help your organisation meet its mission? 

Asking why is also a professional requirement, in my view. As an accredited practitioner, member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) I am not just here to persuade journalists to write about your organisation, I am a critical friend. I will ask why you want to do something and how it fits with your organisational values. Being curious is one of the key attributes for a PR professional. 

Asking why helps to define what your objectives for any communications are. It’s only once you have clear, SMART objectives that you can start planning your communications strategy. I’ll come back to elements that should be in your communications plan in later post. 

In case you’re wondering, I got the job but while working for the organisation I never sent a spoof [read: time wasting] press release.