VOL. 132 | NO. 63 | Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Guerrilla Sales & Marketing
PR is Your Fire Department
BY LORI TURNER-WILSON
Public relations departments are like fire departments. PR folks would much rather prevent your organizational fire than put it out. So, why is it that PR is almost always brought in after a crisis occurs? It’s simple. Many executives only see PR playing a role in generating earned media or planning events. While it involves that, it’s so much more.
PR is often underestimated until it is needed to manage a crisis – or “put out a fire.” The best practice for any business is to include PR in high-level strategy settings. Think about it, an executive team would not dream of making major and game-changing company decisions without the CEO, COO, CFO and legal counsel at the table.
If major decision making is not inclusive of the PR perspective, who is keeping a watchful eye over reputational risk and marketplace perceptions? Allow your PR professional to serve as the critical link between the company and the public.
At any given moment, a decision made in the boardroom can become headline news – good or bad. If it is bad, then chances are good that it could have been prevented or better managed if PR had been involved from the start.
Giving PR a seat at the table isn’t just about preventing crises either. Business owners rely on their public relations department to write effective communication plans for the company. How can a PR practitioner be expected to write a plan that will achieve the company’s objectives if he or she doesn’t even know what you talk about around that big table in the conference room?
Not having your PR person present during planning and decision making undermines the true value of the trade. It leaves the PR person frustrated, as they find themselves in reactive versus proactive mode, and the CEO questioning the efficacy of the PR team.
What if you don’t have a PR department? Maybe your business is small or just starting out. Don’t be afraid to outsource this role. But keep in mind, when hiring outside help, they only know what you share about your business. It is your job to keep them adequately informed to enable them to guide you in making the best decisions for your company’s future.
If your company should ever face staff reductions, don’t be quick to let your PR person go. Many companies make this mistake. As a rule, PR should be the last one standing, especially in tough times, because strong internal and external communication is paramount to your company’s future survival during times of crisis.
Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.