Dear CEOs – PR is your best friend, so use it!
Your PR department isn’t just for scandals, crisis and cock-ups – it’s there to communicate to the outside world and internally to your employees about the good and bad things that are happening at your organisation. Having said that, all too often PR departments are blissfully unaware of the scandals, crisis and cock-ups. The first they hear of it is via rumour or worse still, a journalist ringing them up asking questions.
Communications is so often an after-thought and it shouldn’t be – your PR team should be among the first to know about pretty much everything. Your Head/Director of PR or Communications should be in and out of your management suite like a yo-yo and know all about the latest business critical decisions, product launches, new senior appointments and potential issues that may flare up and affect the reputation of the business.
Some CEOs are good at involving their marketing department and then tag communications on to the back of a campaign at last minute or when the desired results aren’t coming in. PR is an integral part of the marketing mix and it’s increasingly more effective than advertising.
Your PR department can also support and progress you. By communicating the business and raising your profile as its leader they’re enhancing your reputation and so when you’re ready to leave you’ll be better known and respected to gain that higher paid job elsewhere.
PRs are there to add value to your organisation and ensure that announcements, both positive and negative, get the best possible outcome. So what can you do to use your PR department more effectively?
- Trust and respect whoever is in charge of your PR department. They need access to sensitive information – it’s the only way they can be effective in their role.
- Brief them regularly, forward them emails and documents, and tip them off to speak to a colleague about the latest initiative, big event, change in strategic direction and everything else that may be of interest to your stakeholders. Even if you’re not sure it is of interest – tell your PR team anyway, let them be the judge.
- When a crisis hits make sure your PR team is briefed immediately. They need to be on it fast, managing the flow of information and developing responses for journalists. A bad news story or rumour can fly very quickly on social media.
- If it’s not a crisis yet but could be in the future – tell your PR team. They need to be prepared and know what’s bubbling so the initiative is theirs should it look like the story is going to break.
- Have a Director of PR/Communications on your management team so they’re aware and involved in the key decisions. Listen to their advice about how to communicate the decision and what potential issues might flare up. That Director may save you a lot of trouble later, it’s your prerogative to ignore what they say but at least you’re advised and they’re ready.
- Think internal and external. Your employees need to know what’s going on. They shouldn’t read the latest news about their employer in the newspaper – get your internal communications right.
These days the PR team is a great resource for planning and innovation. They use forward-planning tools, monitor competitors and use social media on a daily basis. They have their ear to the ground and are a great resource when bringing on new products and services.
If you’d like to find out more about how your business can benefit from our expert advice then get in touch.