Whether you’re an NRA member or the most liberal New Yorker, you can’t ignore the public relations challenge currently facing the NRA and the companies attached to it.
Here’s a partial list of companies that have broken ties with the NRA in the last two weeks:
Airlines: Delta and United; Finance: First National Bank of Omaha, MetLife; Hotels: Best Western, Wyndham; Rental Car Companies: Avis, Budget, Enterprise Holdings, Hertz.
These companies severed the relationship because the benefit of the association was no longer worth the challenges. It’s possible that the companies weighed the size of 5 million NRA members and decided to err on the larger size of the rest of the market. But it’s most likely the companies didn’t have time to do a meaningful cost-benefit analysis. They just needed to end the PR nightmare as soon as possible.
Of course, there are companies that have decided to maintain their relationship with the NRA, including FedEx and streaming services Amazon, Apple, and Roku. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be for both camps of companies.
What’s playing out in public for the NRA plays out in personal and professional lives, too. It’s highly likely you have people in your world whom you love, but are damaging your reputation. Should you call it quits with them? Could you? Ultimately, it’s for you to decide. But here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether it’s time to move on:
1. Do you constantly have to explain the relationship?
Do people give you a look of surprise - and not a good surprise - when you mention your association with that person? Pay attention to how people react to the news of your friendship. This can tell you a great deal about how that person is perceived in your wider community. It’s a meaningful piece of information you should notice and consider.
2. Are people enthusiastic when the person joins you for an event?
When you mention you’re bringing this person along for an event, how do people respond? If you get more eye rolls or scowls than wide-eyed smiles, you may want to reconsider the people you spend time with, especially in public.
3. Does the person interact with anyone in your circle besides you?
Are you that person’s only connection into your world? Why do you think that is? If it’s a question of access, that’s one thing. But if it’s because everyone else has decided to avoid that person, you need to ask whether you’re missing something that everyone else sees.
4. Do you protect the person from the negative feelings of others?
After an interaction in your world, does the person walk away with some wounds? Do you always have to console them about why meetings in your world never go as they’d hoped? Before you dismiss the criticism, consider the other side. Do the people in your world wonder why you keep bringing that person around, despite the negative feedback?
5. Do you have to prepare the person to engage with your friends and colleagues?
Before you go into an event with this person, do you have to coach them up? Do you have to remind them to say - or not say - certain things, or behave in a particular way? Behavior, even outside of business, is a reflection of that person. And if people don’t respect the person outside of business, they’re going to think twice about interacting that person in the business world. And they’ll wonder why you’re associating with a person they don’t trust.