Jul 25, 2016
We are in the midst of doing crisis communications for our sixth Cheyenne Frontier Days, so it seems like a good time to repost this slightly revised blog article from a few years ago. It seems especially relevant now given our current toxic political climate.
Last week I had breakfast at the Radisson in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The waitress suggested the breakfast buffet. I asked what was in the breakfast buffet. She said “Well, we’ve got ham, bacon, sausage…’’ “Hmm, I don’t eat those,” I said suspiciously. “She said, “Well, we have fruit, cereal, eggs…” So I ordered the breakfast buffet.
The truth is, we all have to make adjustments sometimes. When things don’t go your way, when a client doesn’t agree with everything you recommend, and especially when people look at you like you must be from Mars because you don’t eat bacon, ham or sausage. That ability to adjust your saddle or even change horses in midstream when you need to find some common ground is a lost art these days. That’s one thing that really impressed me about the people who run Cheyenne Frontier Days.
The Cowboy Way is no bull. These people really practice the art of Cowboy PR. They are straight shootin’ communicators who say what they think and mean what they say. Their core values include honor, respect and courtesy. It might sound old fashioned, but that culture is fundamentally what PR is all about. You may not agree with them, but at least they will respect you enough to let you voice your opinion, as long as you do it in a respectful way. If you choose to be ornery about it, they’ll just get up and leave until you calm down. In Cowboy PR, there is no time for showboating. They are too busy rounding up the truth.
For too long, Cheyenne Frontier Days let other people tell the story of how animals are treated at rodeos. Often that story has been negative. It’s been told by people who truly believe that the only perspective that matters is theirs. They make a lot of noise and they fire a lot of cheap shots. Now, CFD tells its own story in its own words and lets whoever wants to decide which story they like best.
Since we started working with Cheyenne on a reputation management program several years ago, CFD has built a loyal following on social media with over 140,000 Facebook fans and more than 14,000 Twitter followers. They have dozens of their own videos on YouTube. Instead of only negative attacks, the media coverage also includes features on CFD’s commitment to keeping rodeo livestock healthy and safe. Most of all, the 2,500 volunteers who run the organization feel better because they are finally being listened to instead of just hollered at.
Honor. Respect. Courtesy. That’s straight shootin’ communications. That’s Cowboy PR.
Jon Pushkin is the president and founder of Pushkin Public Relations, a full service Denver PR firm. He likes dogs, baseball and swing, in that order.