Today, when everyone’s eyes and ears are somehow connected to social media, the art of impression management is a strategic tool for your reputation, whether you are a well known multinational corporation, a start-up or a public figure. However, similar to women’s oxymoronic effort to look as fresh and natural as they can (using as much make-up as it takes for this), the pressure of informality and ‘coolness’ can bring out grotesque face threatening public performances.
Informality, humour or role playing can be a resourceful way to win people over, to make them accept you as one of their own and make camera love you. Yet, as tempting as it seems, this is something that for some comes natural, while for others has to be carefully planned to look natural. If you have it, use it wisely, if not, accept it and, more important, fight it down and avoid your first instincts to be spontaneous. There are people and contexts for which informality and spontaneity are a perfect match and work as a PR ‘golden mine’, as well as there are people who walk into their own trap by choosing this path. Don’t bet your reputation on an improvisation act if you know you are not a gifted actor!
As all other things that are socially (re)defined, in terms of PR impact, spontaneity is not a sure win by itself. However, it can become one if it is perceived as fitted with the one’s status, reputation capital, contextual performance and, moreover, with the public expectations for that particular communication situation. Media made us look for charismatic public figures in any domain, expecting that hollywoodian inspiring connection and communication charm. The fact is that is barely as simple and natural for everyone as they let it seem. Thus, instead of wasting time and energy in face threatening spontaneous reactions for the „natural cause” sake, take a step back and approach it in a more strategic way as any other PR tactic in terms of (public) face management.