I met a friend from a budding PR consultancy after a long time. I have known this person since my corporate journalism days. We collaborated on many industry stories and events. Sipping coffee, we revisited memorable and funny experiences we had back then. We exchanged ideas and discussed possibilities for future collaboration. During our conversation, he shared his experience with his newly on-board client, who gave his team a hard time. He told me the person tended to skip the PR teams in marketing discussions and media interactions. He also shared that the client was reluctant to share resources and expected them to deliver results. I could sense his frustration and helplessness. Though he was disappointed, he was trying his best to get along with this client. Looking at him, I felt grateful for having a supportive and trusted team.
Clients/ company leadership maintaining transparency and making decisions without consulting their PR and comms teams is a common phenomenon in the industry. Such practices can negatively impact the morale of the communication (comms) teams and affect their output. A robust and empowered comms team is a must to build brand image and avert a reputational crisis. Companies should recognise the value communication professionals (comms pros) offer and acknowledge their efforts in building public perceptions about the company.
Here are four ways companies can create a transparent and trusted environment for their comms team.
Trust your comms team
The first step in building a robust comms team is trust and respect. Comms professionals are experts in reputation management. Along with media visibility, they can address specific business issues and provide solutions to critical problems. Be open to exploring their ideas and suggestions, especially those related to business growth and stakeholder engagement. Comms teams spend considerable time and energy in market research and competition analysis to design innovative campaigns and media pitches. Trust their suggestions and involve them in every stage of stakeholder engagement.
Sometimes journalists approach company spokespersons for comments or information, bypassing the comms team. While there is nothing wrong with leveraging the contacts, better loop comms pros to address all media queries. Develop a system for media responses to avoid legal troubles. It is essential to avoid controversial statements or spillage of critical details in the flow of conversation. The comms team prepare appropriate responses in line with publicity norms to ensure the information diseminated is accurate. If it is telephonic or virtual interaction, add the comms teams for smooth and execution and subsequent follow-up with the media publication.
Involve comms in business discussion
Thanks to the consistent efforts of communications professionals (comms pros) and PR forums, companies have started realising the potential of public relations beyond media publicity. PR is slowly becoming a critical aspect of marketing initiatives. Comms pros finally have started getting recognition in closed-door discussions. Involve comms teams in strategic business planning and strategy implementation. Their job should commence at the planning stage instead of the execution stage. They can provide a 360-degree view with their rich industry experience.
Provide necessary resources
During the conversation, my friend highlighted the challenge of not getting sufficient data from his client for campaigns. Comms pros cannot tell brand stories based on secondary data. Website and marketing collaterals are insufficient and provide only generic business information. Companies should keep them updated on go-to-market plans, new business acquisitions, achievements, rewards, new ventures etc. Many companies invest in events, whitepapers and industry reports for business planning and competition analysis. Share such resources with comms teams to help curate creative campaigns and media pitches.
The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.