By MCA Public Relations
Business is tough, competition can be ruthless, and by all accounts, communication with each other has drastically changed. Whether you operate under a B2B or B2C structure, communicating to your customer, investors and the press can be challenging. Additionally, social media has challenged the immediacy of news and its proliferation, whether good or bad. So, how do we manage our own information or find some sense of control?
Public relations (PR) may be the solution. According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is defined as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” It can be a momentous task to properly develop a communication process. Here are some signs you might need to invest in public relations to create the best opportunities for your company.
- Inconsistent messaging and positioning: There is a lack of consistent messaging across all platforms—web, press releases, social media, blogs, etc. If all communication channels are not aligned, both visually and verbally, you need PR.
- Unprepared for crisis situations: The realization that you are unprepared for crisis situations may be too little, too late. This is often an in-the-moment realization that you are not prepared to deal with a crisis (i.e. the death of a CEO, an accusation of financial shenanigans, a shareholder lawsuit). If you do not have a preemptive strike planned for avoiding disaster, you need PR.
- Pushed around by the competition: The competition continues to out-position, out-message, out-market you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their product or services out-performs the quality of yours, but they are at least communicating their benefits. They will be considered the thought leader. Big hint, when a list of the top/most innovative/best companies is listed with all of your competitors and not you, you need PR.
- Poor internal communication: Along with consistent messaging and positioning, everyone in the company needs to understand and be able to clearly explain the company’s value in the market. Establish an overarching corporate vision. If an executive or employee cannot quickly and clearly explain the company’s position and product within 30 seconds or less, you need PR.
- Unidentified company spokesperson: Although a clear corporate vision should be established, it does not mean all employees are qualified to speak on behalf of the company. There should be a designated employee that can speak to the position and product of the company, offering a valuable and credible source of information. Likewise, there should also be a designated employee for the press to contact if they want to speak to an executive. If for example, at a trade show or event, you do not have press meetings arranged or you have unqualified members of the team being interviewed on behalf of the company, you need PR.
- PR stands for press release: The acronym PR stands for public relations. A press release, although a good start, will not do all the work that a public relations strategy will do. There is much more to public relations than just a news release. This very Field of Dreams mentality, “If you build it they will come,” is limiting. If you are still waiting for the press to pick up your press release, you need PR.
- Unrealistic expectations for news coverage: There are many opportunities to receive press coverage as a company. You need news-worthy content to start. Knowing your audience and who might be interested in your news is a good way to guide your expectations of coverage. As much as you want to be in the Wall Street Journal, even some of the strongest pieces of news won’t make it there. If you are looking for the right publications to pick up your story, you need PR.
- Inconsistent dissemination of information: Just as we can see inconsistency of messages and positioning, inconsistent dissemination of information can be confusing. For example, infrequent press releases (although we also don’t want too many), irregular tweets or posts on social media, a website that is outdated or needs updated posts can leave your company and your news forgotten. If you can’t remember the last time you posted on social media or published a press release, you need PR.
- Leaving investors and media confused: Consistent dissemination helps investors and press to follow your company story, be a part of the journey. Say for example, you have just acquired a company and you send out a press release to announce it. Investors and media are confused by your choice. It just doesn’t make sense. You have left gaps in your story; the choice to acquire a company was not communicated strategically. If you can’t remember your communication strategy or don’t have one in place, you need PR.
- Limited relationships with media: It is a huge misconception that you need to purchase advertisements in order to talk to the media, whether it is at a trade show or conference, or you want to pitch a recent press release. Yes, while we encourage companies to support publications by purchasing advertising and sponsorships (they are a business after all); there is a separation of church and state. Fostering healthy relationships with the media will allow you to more easily receive coverage, provide stories of interest to individual media, and avoid costly advertising. If you are spending unnecessary marketing budget to meet the press, you need PR.