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Best Practices for Developing Strong Public Relations

Posted by Protiviti KnowledgeLeader on Thu, Aug 23, 2018 @ 11:30 AM

Public RelationsAre you using strong strategic communication processes that build great relationships between your organization and the public?

Public relations has gained importance and visibility in the recent years as our marketplaces become more competitive and the exponential growth in proliferation of media. The importance of a well-crafted public relations campaign has never been greater. This includes not just generating coverage and visibility, but also fostering meaningful relationship with customers, clients, business partners, employees and the public.

Corporate identity, digital identity and brand identity are all terms that describe a distinct `persona' that a corporation adopts to achieve its business objectives, and which is manifested in its `philosophy', its `culture' and its branding. Well-run companies exhibit high standards of conduct, knowing that every transaction, no matter how small, affects its reputation whether it is the tone of voice used by the company receptionist, sales representatives' rapport with customers or letting a late supplier off the hook.

Below you’ll find some best practices revolving around public relations and corporate identity.

DEVELOP KEY MESSAGES THAT DIFFERENTIATE AND STRENGTHEN THE COMPANY

Positioning is the heartbeat of an effective public relations plan and answers four essential questions: what a company does, who it serves, how it meets emerging needs and how it surpasses competitors. Best practices companies do not focus on volume of articles published, but rather on defining through key messages – what makes their organizations unique. These messages determine public perception and enable target audiences to better understand a company's purpose and goals. A position-driven program also generates a specific and consistent point of view that empowers all forms of communication and helps a company achieve its sought-after differentiated position.

What Companies Gain:

  • Improved corporate image
  • More effective communications
  • Powerful representation of company news
  • Support/action from company stakeholders

Messaging strategy action steps, measurements of success and tips & tools can be found in Develop Public Relations Program Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on KnowledgeLeader.

MATCH COMPANY ACTIONS TO DESIRED EXTERNAL IDENTITY

Corporate identity in the context of public relations behavior has become an important subject on senior executive agendas. Companies with the most successful communications are those that project a clearly defined personality and maintain a good rapport with their target audiences. Image and reputation affect all facets of corporate life: sales, acquisitions, share price, recruitment, media relations and employee morale. For example, when a company is well regarded, share price, sales and employee morale go up. On the other hand, when the company's reputation suffers, so does everything else.

Companies face challenges to their image from all sides. Factors threatening a positive clear identity include: mergers and acquisitions, environmental concerns, similarity to competitors' products, dated facilities and fickle consumers. One mistake, one error in judgment, can cost a company serious image problems for decades.

What Companies Gain:

  • Improved relationships with the community
  • Projection of a dynamic, focused organization
  • Enhanced standing with internal and external audiences
  • Long-term customer loyalty and retention

Public relations behavior alignment action steps, measurements of success and tips & tools can be found in Develop Public Relations Program Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on KnowledgeLeader.

GENERATE MEDIA INTEREST

To succeed or even survive in today's media-driven society, companies must fully embrace the finer points of press relations. Best practices companies capitalize on the press's insatiable appetite for captivating and informative news by feeding reporters what they want and boosting their own image in the process. What "makes it" versus what doesn't depends largely on how well a company connects reporters with its best information and most informed staff. No one will publish or broadcast anything that is not targeted appropriately, that is not delivered professionally or that is not truly newsworthy.

What Companies Gain:

  • High-quality press material that gets noticed
  • Links to external constituencies
  • Positive media exposure
  • Protection against bad press
  • A workforce ready for any microphone put before them

Media strategy action steps, measurements of success and tips & tools can be found in Develop Public Relations Program Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on KnowledgeLeader.

USE THE INTERNET TO CREATE COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST

Technology offers a powerful way to inform and influence customers, business associates, investors and other key stakeholders. These technologies provide cost-effective instantaneous-response communications targeted at narrowly defined and highly influential audiences.

A global campaign on the internet, for example, can be launched in less than an hour. A thousands of companies are already publishing press releases and corporate profiles online. Whether building a public website, an intranet site geared toward employee communication or a sophisticated email system, smart executives use technology to increase both market share and mindshare.

What Companies Gain:

  • Cost-effective, fast-response technologies
  • A dominant position in the online arena of a specific industry
  • Direct links to company stakeholders to provide information and facilitate transactions
  • Prevention of email disasters

Internet and technology public relations strategy action steps, measurements of success and tips & tools can be found in Develop Public Relations Program Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on KnowledgeLeader.

ALIGN PUBLIC RELATIONS WITH MARKETING STRATEGY

Marketing-based public relations has become a potent asset in a company's drive to reach key constituencies. Here, public relations penetrates the consumer psyche and creates the context in which a product or service can shine for each critical audience. Done well, it establishes an enduring bond that drives customer loyalty and long-term retention. In an era where brand is king, smart companies are cashing in, nurturing a new breed of public relations practitioners who are wise to the ways of consumer brand management and first-rate customer service.

What Companies Gain:

  • Cultivation of new markets and improvement of weak markets
  • Consistent targeted messages that build market awareness
  • Maximized brand impact with key constituencies
  • Knowledge of emerging issues in the marketplace

Marketing strategy action steps, measurements of success and tips & tools can be found in Develop Public Relations Program Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on KnowledgeLeader.

PLAN FOR CRISIS SITUATIONS

Mishandling or failing to predict a crisis can cost a company large sums of money, damage its reputation, threaten the viability of a product or service line and even harm or kill people. Babies slip through walkers, automobile airbags malfunction and disgruntled employees storm worksites with sawed-off shotguns. No company is immune to disaster, which can materialize in many ways, from product tampering to boycotts, computer viruses, hostile takeovers, labor strikes, environmental contamination and freak accidents.

Many companies still rely on simple response plans or last-minute thinking. Instead, managing crises requires a comprehensive multifunctional effort that begins long before the actual crisis happens. It is vital for organizations to detect warning signs early, write plans for specific crisis scenarios, practice responses through drills and simulations and refine approaches through lessons learned. With detailed crisis preparation, public relations practitioners can build the agility and strength to survive serious blows virtually unscathed averting some crises completely and managing others more effectively.

What Companies Gain:

  • Warning systems for crisis situations
  • An alert crisis management mindset
  • Clearly identified emergency roles and responsibilities
  • Sharpened skills for crisis response
  • Identification of weak spots through practice exercises and simulations

Public relations crisis action steps, measurements of success and tips & tools can be found in Develop Public Relations Program Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on KnowledgeLeader.

And finally, always apply benchmarking to your process with strong performance measures to evaluate cost, quality and time invested. Look in the document for a process appraisal tool including 29 questions you should be asking about your public relations global best practices.

 

Other related resources include:

Disaster Recovery Team Policy: Public Relations Team

Manage Relations With the Board of Directors—Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Internal Company Knowledge Sharing Policy

Managing Privacy Risk in a Social Media-Driven Society

Five Ways Technology, Media and Communications Companies Are Using RPA and AI to Save Money and Improve the Customer Experience

Topics: human resources, social media risk, disaster recovery, business continuity management, performance management/measurement

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