While many of us know the true value Public Relations provides to businesses and brands, the role and value of PR is often misunderstood and miscommunicated. On top of this the way the industry has been measuring and proving its value has not done our industry much justice. It’s not enough to know that PR works, we have to prove its impact on the business. With the digital age it is much easier to track and prove campaigns through metrics such as hits, fans or followers, but even here the board wants to know what it is doing for the business.
It is imperative that you identify where PR can help your business the most and align your goals, communication and measurement to these. If you do this you are able to show the board clearly why you believe PR is a key tool in dealing with these challenges as well as prove the value with more effective measurement.
Let’s take a look at some of the top businesses challenges where PR can help the business:
•Aggressive growth strategy – possible listing, JV, acquisitions
•No one knows about your business or products/services
•Entering new markets
•New product launches
•Positioning problem in the market
•Retaining customers is a problem – high churn
•Internal staff communication issues
•Need to engage a variety of stakeholders
•An environment where crises (current and future) could damage the reputation of the business
•Consumer comments in social media are damaging the brand
Aggressive growth strategy
If your business is embarking on a growth strategy that requires high visibility and awareness in the market, for example ahead of a listing or seeking investors/acquisitions, PR when done properly can drive positive awareness, forge relationships with the right people and influence perceptions. It is important to remember that when you use PR here, you need to start your PR drive at least a year prior to when you want to implement the plan.
No one knows about your business or products/services
This is that next step where your business is doing great but it hasn’t yet achieved the credibility from the marketplace it deserves. It hasn’t quite made the breakthrough where it is recognized as a leader in its field or considered a must have on the short list. PR is fantastic for companies like this because it has the power to drive much needed credibility with the right audiences. This is where profiling, showcasing your successes, thought leadership, building key industry relationships and various other tactics can tangibly benefit the business.
Entering new markets
This is similar to the above where the new market does not know you and you need to spend time establishing your business as a credible entity to the people that matter. This could include governments, heads of business, industry bodies as well as your direct target consumers. In this case PR is powerfully used to influence perceptions and drive consideration for your business and products/services with all its tools at your disposal.
New product launches
Where new products are concerned, PR can be cleverly implemented to drive awareness and ensure your business stands out from the clutter. PR can have a big impact on whether the market embraces your new initiatives or ignores them. In addition, insights can be drawn from the markets reactions and engagement with your products so you can revise or perfect future campaigns.
Positioning problem in the market
If your business, products or services are not correctly positioned in the marketplace, it can cause confusion, wastage of marketing budget, negatively affect sales and ultimately your reputation. Experienced PR professionals know how to craft messaging that works due to insights and access to research about your audiences to provide you with an informed recommendation. In addition, PR can be used to correct misperceptions and turn-around any negative reputation you may have in the market.
Retaining customers is a problem – high churn
A customer retention strategy is vital in this situation and PR has a huge role to play in assisting your company with insights, recommendations, strategic communications tactics and implementing these to ensure communication with your customers is consistent, powerful and helps your retention strategy. Great communication and a good reputation is known to influence your customers’ decision to stay with you or move.
Internal staff communication issues
Where staff buy-in and morale is low PR has been shown to have a huge impact. PR can help you by giving insights into the communication climate in your company, identify the key challenges and recommend a workable strategy to address these. Always working with HR to ensure an integrated strategy is implemented. When done right internal communications and change management can transform the culture and productivity of your people and business.
Need to engage a variety of stakeholders
Businesses that have a variety of stakeholders that are key to their success - such as industry bodies and forums, government, analysts, community groups – will benefit from PR to help them develop and maintain positive relationships with these groups.
An environment where crises (current and future) could damage the reputation of the business
If your business has many potential crises that could arise PR is vital to ensuring a positive reputation and guiding the business on the right and wrong ways to handle and recover from a crisis. The value of implementing a crises management strategy and plan lies in the value of your businesses reputation. This needs to be stressed to the board as the impact of a bad reputation is far reaching and can be a big risk to the future of the business.
Consumer comments in social media are damaging the brand
Where this is the case you need PR to help you get a handle on negative consumer sentiment and balance it with the right strategy, positive interaction with consumers and implement tactics that will see a turnaround in sentiment. PR can provide you with vital information and alerts to negative sentiment and provide recommendations to the business and your customer service teams. Customer service teams often don’t have the time to take a step back and see what is coming before it’s too late, PR can provide an early warning system to alert the business to potential customer negativity and ways to combat these.
There are many other business issues where PR can directly impact and influence the business, this is a starting point for you to begin speaking the language of the business to the board, get buy in and feedback progress on a regular basis. In future blogs I will tackle how to setup measurable goals and influence your PR teams to implement them so that PR’s value always has impact.