Working with corporate leadership for valuable PR strategies

19 May 2020 13:25

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When a public relations strategy is an internal piece of work, generated by your PR team with little input from corporate leaders or alignment with overall company goals, it may end up far less valuable than you'd hoped. Deriving more value from your campaigns means re-contextualizing them as assets that serve the whole business, ones that should be generated with executive involvement and cooperation with marketing.

Once your PR efforts come back from their island and become more closely integrated, you'll be better positioned to aim at reaching real, long-term corporate goals rather than internal targets that may be too vague or unconnected to real value. The first step is getting buy-in from the people who call the shots.

Keeping the CEO on the team

Devising a valuable PR strategy, one that serves company goals, means communicating with overall leadership. PR Week contributor Shannon Bowen explained that organizational strategic communication is incomplete if it doesn't involve productive communication between PR leaders and the higher-ups in corporate chains of command. When PR and the CEO fall out of touch, there is every chance that the two strategies - departmental and overall - can lose their alignment.

Ideally, PR strategy is the communication component that goes along with an organization's moves. Bowen cautioned that when the CEO doesn't have a strong relationship with the head of PR, the company could take strategic action without alerting the PR department. In these cases, you'll have to scramble, forced to think tactically instead of strategically.

There is no question that your job in the PR sphere is to support the corporate message, becoming the voice of the organization's decisions and its direction. This requires a seat at the strategic table - following behind or operating in a siloed fashion carries a risk of scattered or slow messaging. Furthermore, with business leadership expected to address the public early and often, you should ensure executives know their parts in your plans.

Allying yourself with marketing

Bought attention and earned mentions are complementary factors for companies - or at least, they can be. Entrepreneur contributor Erik Huberman pointed out that the frequent disconnect between marketers and their PR counterparts is a persistent weakness today. When marketers have access to the earned media that you have spent time and effort generating, there is great potential to launch coordinated strategies that make the most of each kind of attention.

Huberman pointed out that an ideal connection between PR and marketing will mature for a long time, with each function given ample room to mature. Your efforts to improve the company's public image and put its name into the public sphere will turn into on-point paid marketing. You have to be working from the same playbook as your marketing colleagues to ensure neither department's messaging steps on the other's toes.

The rule of thumb of valuable PR is to make yourself a part of the team rather than turning the department into a proverbial island. A strategy forged with all relevant stakeholders in the room can be carried out across all visible parts of a company, creating a productive and consistent image.

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