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1. Building trusted relationships
In a nutshell, it’s about communicating effectively to build trusted relationships and engage with relevant stakeholders, which will include any number of the following – clients, supppliers, regulators, government, employees, industry groups and the wider community. Ultimately PR and marketing should help organisations be more successful.
2. It makes business sense
Corporate reputation accounts for 60 per cent of a company’s market value, so having PR and marketing expertise, whether it’s inhouse or through a consultancy, can make all the difference in the same way that having a qualified accountant managing the finances will invariably make you more profitable. Reputation needs to be on the board agenda and it’s surprising how often it’s not even considered. Organisations need to create the conversations which build the trusted relationships and maintain and enhance reputations.
3. It’s not just about press releases
The media remains a cornerstone of effective communication as journalists across all mediums remain a trusted source of information. However, it’s better to think of PR as communications. The boundaries between traditional marketing, social, digital, internal communications, media and external communications are blurring. Each one has a distinct role but they shouldn’t be deployed in isolation. Each opportunity will be different and require a blended approach to ensure the widest reach and the desired reaction.
4. Communication needs to be strategic and integrated
Ad hoc communication isn’t effective, there needs to be a strategy and that strategy should be aligned to and complement the business plan. What do we want stakeholders to think, feel and ultimately do? Smaller organisations may be concerned that a strategy could be costly and time consuming. Good communication consultants should always be mindful of costs and ensure that the strategy and tactical plan is relevant and appropriate to the size of the organisation, its business goals and its target audiences. They should plan proactive communications but also spot opportunities for reactive communications.
5. Don’t forget your team
So many organisations consider communicating with their teams to be a HR function when in reality internal comms is as important (some might say more important) than external comms. If you employ 100 people who each have a different view of the company and then share this view with friends, families, clients and prospects then the key messages about the company won’t be defined, remembered or believed. An effective internal communications strategy needs to ensure that every member of the team knows the organisation’s vision, purpose and values. They need to be told news, good or bad, before it’s announced publicly so they can help share the positives and be proud of who they work for or in the event of a negative situation, feel empowered to answer questions and correct misinformation.
6. Developing a good identity and brand
A brand is much more than a logo and a colour palette. A brand should reflect who the organisation is and its beliefs and values. Your brand and identity is something which needs to be built on and is more than just the look of advertising or the sign above the door. It’s what you say in any literature (including online), what you do as an employer to invest in and recognise your teams, your involvement in industry bodies or your support of charities and the community to name but a few.
7. For when a crisis hits
There was a time when bad news wouldn’t be talked about in the hope that it would go away. It rarely does as the rise of social media, while very positive when sharing good news, has made everyone a citizen journalist. A story can spread via social media far quicker than it can be controlled. Communications experts will offer calm, candid and honest advice on how best to deal with a negative solution and, more importantly, how to move forward from it.
A few questions to ask yourself when looking to outsource?
Do they have senior, qualified and experienced professionals with the right mix of skills and expertise? Will the people who come to the first meeting be the people working on your account? Do they offer a wide suite of services, for example a creative studio to assist on web design and other material? Can they work across jurisdictions if they need to? Crucially, do you like them? They need to be an extension of your team, trusted with sensitive material and you need to feel comfortable that they will help you, in good times and in bad.