Guide Public Relations - Strategically important?

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That is the sticky wicket.

Importance of Public Relations for Organizational Effectiveness |

Complicate the matter further by looking at the business management discipline of strategy itself: they examine many questions quantitatively, all with specifically measured results on organizational outputs and goals. And not once do they ever consider the "soft skill" of communication as a part of strategy. It is simply not studied.

Stakeholder Linkages to the Organization

In public relations, we talk about strategy as building relationships with stakeholders and publics through research and dialogue. Diverging from the norm and heavily schooled in strategy literature, Michael Etter and Peter Winkler argue that strategy should be a narrative and ongoing discourse, changing moment to moment rather than as the goal-oriented states usually set out as strategy. They view strategic communication as always an "emergent" practice. They wrote, "We contend that multidimensional network approach provides both integration and addresses the boundary-less nature of modern organizations.

Without a strong relationship with the head of PR, the CEO will often move to strategize without a second thought toward communication.

Perhaps most problematically, ethics is not included in the new and future conceptualizations of strategy as strategic communication for our field. The page conference session list of abstracts does not include a single mention of ethics a topic for strategy. But what could be more important in strategy than ethics? Ethical counsel helps to avoid damaging relationships, missteps in culture or governance, crises, and all sorts of behaviors that draw criticisms of stakeholders and publics.

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Business events are opportunities to market your products or services and gain exposure for your brand. Whether hosted or attended by your company, events are also important sales opportunities. Events give you a chance to meet prospective customers and delight current ones face-to-face. Speaking engagements at events are also helpful for boosting brand awareness and sharing unique thought leadership or data-driven information that can help elevate your brand. Community relations refers to building positive relationships with the local community around your business. This could include charity work, donations, special discounts, or anything that builds a strong relationship with the community and strengthens customer loyalty.

Corporate and social responsibility is similar to community relations, but it places a greater emphasis on ethical business practices, environmental responsibility, and philanthropy — locally, regionally, and globally. This is a critical area of PR as it directly affects public perception of your brand.

Crisis management is the practice of acknowledging, managing, and working to reverse negative communication and perception surrounding a business crisis. Manage, plan for, and communicate during your corporate crises with this free crisis management communication kit. Crisis management is an important function of PR and should be handled quickly, consistently, and strategically. With certain PR tools , crises can be averted through monitoring online chatter and quality-checking any marketing or promotional material that may be misunderstood or misconstrued.

Employee relations, also known as internal PR, is the practice of communicating with and cultivating a positive employee perception of your company. This process may include dedicated employee newsletters or communications, employee perks and benefits, free training and skill-boosting opportunities, employee appreciation events, and working with unions or employee groups. Employee relations not only keeps your employees motivated, hard-working, and loyal, but it also encourages them to advocate for your business — which can bring in both customers and more high-quality employees.

Media relations refers to building positive relationships with journalists, publications, and other news outlets. This process typically includes writing press releases , organizing press releases, and scheduling interviews.

Public Relations: Getting Attention to Polish Your Image

Not only does this gain exposure for your business and products but it also encourages the media to market your brand for free. Download our free Inbound Press Release Kit to access step-by-step templates to build press releases and a promotion plan. Social media is considered both an earned and paid PR tactic.

PR managers are responsible for building, executing, and monitoring your PR strategies and tactics. Successful PR managers have a particular set of skills — below, I will cover a few important ones. To do this, PR managers spend a lot of their time speaking about your company at public functions, press conferences, and other events. For this reason, excellent communication is a key skill for PR managers. Since PR managers are responsible for writing press releases and company-related news, strong writing skills will help convey the appropriate message to promote your company.

Similar to marketing, creativity goes a long way in the public relations world. Great PR managers are creative and know how to create a strategy that stands out from the crowd, which is important because a unique story or perspective will drive PR coverage. Public relations is a social industry, and people might be talking about your brand without directly mentioning it. Good research skills will help PR managers find and leverage these opportunities. PR managers will also need to do lots of research when planning your PR strategy.

Because they might need additional information, statistics, and data points to boost the power of their owned media, strong research skills are essential. The day-to-day tasks of your PR manager can vary depending on your industry, active PR campaigns, PR team size , and other factors. Public relations managers are also responsible for tracking and measuring their PR efforts.

Developing a communications strategy

The following key performance indicators KPIs can help your public relations manager s analyze and improve your PR strategies. Measuring your PR performance and impact can be tough. Backlinks help you find where and in what context your brand has been mentioned. Brand mentions occur when someone mentions your brand. This metric is important because it helps you measure awareness of your brand. You might see brand mentions in traditional news coverage, on other business or personal blogs, in reviews, or on social media.

Some mentions may be tagged or hyperlinked, and some may not link back to your brand or website — which means you have to go looking for them. Check out the PR tools section for some helpful software tools. I talk about measuring sentiment below.

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Remember, the goal of PR is to raise brand awareness, spread the ideas of your internal thought leaders, and communicate the ideas of your brand — those new site visitors could always return and make a purchase in the future now that they know about your brand because of your PR. The higher your domain authority is, the better your website will rank in search results. However, it should be noted that adopting a scorecard approach to corporate communication planning is one of the many different methods that can be used. As the balanced scorecard includes an emphasis on internal processes and learning and growth it inevitably leads to more focus on internal communication as a core strategic public relations activity, especially when it is successfully embedded into change management.

Public relations is messy

Indeed, it could be argued that internal communication is as important, if not more important, than external communication in reputation management as trust in the media remains low and employee trust in their organisations is reported to be relatively high at 72 percent in the latest Edelman Trust Barometer report.

There is also a growing body of scholarly work that associates internal communication with employee engagement which is in turn associated with organisational success and employee well-being. Drawing together some of the common elements highlighted in the literature and introducing organisational listening to the process, a strategic management approach to public relations can be summarised as follows:. An observation that can be made about the frameworks and models discussed in this short essay is that they are far removed from day to day practice which is dominated by copywriting and editing.

This critique of strategic management can be dismissive of the importance of formative research and planning.

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Instead the argument is that practice need only be concerned with the content creation process. However, this is to misunderstand the strategic management process. Tactics are a strategic activity — if they are based on formative research and planning. If they are not linked to carefully researched communication objectives then organisations may well be wasting public relations resources on activities that merely create noise and make no difference to the achievement of corporate objectives.

There is some evidence that current practice does incorporate elements of strategic management. This growth begs the question does PR really need to become more established as strategic management?

Answering that necessitates the identification of the cost of poor reputation management that could have been prevented through strategic public relations. This can be measured not just in share prices that suffer following poor issues and crisis management but also in brand and reputation equity valuations. A case can also be made for more strategic internal communication positively impacting productivity which is known to be low in the UK compared to the G7 a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States : output per hour worked in the UK was To conclude, public relations in the UK is highly respected and valued by many organisations.

There is evidence that it is growing, both in terms of people employed and value. Frameworks for strategic practice have existed for four decades. Further research to explore why this is the case would be useful. And the key question is how much more could PR be contributing to productivity and reputational equity if it was based on higher levels of strategic practice? Public relations as reputation management. Public relations as communication management.