If you look at the business world and how it has changed over the years – from notepad and pen to desktop computers and emails, from laptops to smartphones, tablets and social media networks – Bob Dylan’s old classic The Times They Are a-Changin’ may spring to mind. But, are all businesses, organisations and professionals keeping up with the times? In an industry that is constantly evolving, I offer an insight into some of the key areas.
1. Build brand awareness for stakeholders – external communications
We are all guilty of assuming that our stakeholders, particularly prospective clients are (fully) aware of what we do – and the many layers within it – and know where we are if they need us. Public relations (PR) is fundamental to businesses and organisations, so much so that co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates once said; “If I were down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations”. There are several, interconnecting forms of PR and communications, both offline and online, that are necessary for brand awareness and reaching stakeholders. The CEO of 5WPR, Ronn Torossian , described PR as “…a mix of journalism, psychology and lawyering, it’s an ever changing and always interesting landscape” and I couldn’t agree more.
2. Create brand awareness within teams – internal communications
Whether you have a team of 5, 50, 500 or 5,000, how it communicates will ultimately determine the success of your brand and relationship with stakeholders. Creating and maintaining a culture of structured and transparent internal communication between colleagues, staff and teams is often overlooked or assumed to the detriment of the business or organisation. When we hear things like “it fell between the cracks” or where there is a high turnover of staff or suppliers there is a lack of or breakdown in communication.
By actively managing internal communications, in line with the mission statement or brand constitution of the business or organisation, a cohesive message is transferred to all stakeholders. This message (in the form of emails, meetings, phone calls, ezines, publications, social media or any other form of communication) between team members influences their own and other stakeholders’ opinions of the business or organisation i.e. its brand or public image. The common phrases “singing from the same hymn sheet” or “on the same page” show a brand that has strong internal communications across the board.
3. Identify public and media relations opportunities to showcase your product or service
By hosting events, such as seminars or conferences, businesses and organisations can showcase their products or services to their stakeholders and, at the same time, build relationships. The events may have potential for media attention if there is newsworthiness, such as a topical announcement or a new product or service launch. Identifying public relations and/or media relations opportunities through events or campaigns extends brand awareness. While it can involve a balancing act, securing media coverage through press releases and event photography carries credibility with stakeholders.
4. Give your business or organisation a new look – online
The business world is more technology-savvy than ever and the importance of an interactive online presence cannot be ignored. A website is an online office front. Does your business have a dynamic website and social media networks with timely updates, SEO and the different stakeholders in mind? Perhaps most importantly, is the content directly reaching your stakeholders through, for example, an ezine? Having an online presence can be the fastest and most far-reaching way to get your message into the public domain. Of course, a huge advantage of having a digital presence is that you can communicate with people beyond your own region.
I have a decade of PR and communications experience. My expertise ranges from reputation management and crisis communications to stakeholder engagement and media relations. I am accustomed to devising and advising on external and internal communications strategies, and providing event management and PR services to ensure communications efforts reach the intended target audience.