As businesses navigate the economic downturn and the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, budgets are shrinking and executives are looking to cut operating costs wherever they can. Tens of millions of people around the world are out of work, and business leaders are confronting hard questions about which costs continue to make sense during this unparalleled environment.
Public relations has long been a target for “fast and easy” budget cuts, but this may be a short-sighted mistake. Especially during moments like this, PR can be an incredible asset to an organization’s reputation management process. In a chaotic communications environment, it makes good business sense to have someone in your corner who is advancing your message with key stakeholders. Here’s why:
1. PR is About More than Just the Media
A successful strategic communications campaign identifies key stakeholders and seeks to advance a strict set of corporate messages with the people who care about or rely on your company for the goods and services you offer.
Some people think PR is just about getting a headline or op-ed published about your company, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. PR professionals can advise on everything from shareholder letters, earnings calls, and investor relations, to ad copy, social media, and relevant conferences and awards your company should target.
In addition, having the ability to leverage your PR team’s insight into the media intelligence data they glean from media monitoring can make the difference between appearing a step behind your competitors and positioning yourself as a leader in your industry.
2. The Journey is Just as Important as the Destination
Working with PR can help you establish your organization’s overall messaging – helping to ensure that your business goals are aligned with your strategy for action. Taking the time to sit down and flesh out a message to the media can be extremely helpful in determining your overall direction. Determining how you want to communicate about yourself will ultimately help you figure out who you want to be as a company.
3. Establishing Category Leadership
When it comes to convincing the C-suite of the power of PR, know that today’s brand management is driven by corporate visibility. Consumers trust the brands that are top of mind, so positioning a CEO as a thought leader and getting media placements for that person will help ensure that consumers trust the brand and are more likely to return for repeat purchases of goods and services.
When you tell your CEO that he or she should be on television to promote your latest product or initiative, keep in mind that consumers want to see more transparency and authenticity from brands in today’s environment. Millennial and Gen Z consumers seek out Internet and news sources for an objective take on which brands they can trust, and leveraging PR to put down your stake in the conversation is just as essential as marketing best practices.
4. It’s a Numbers Game
When C-suite executives are questioning the value of a strategic communications campaign, it often comes down to ROI and numbers. How is my organization benefitting from my PR spend? Leveraging media intelligence and media monitoring tools can help you explain the value of PR to organizational leaders.
Some numbers, such as media impressions, are clear to all: this is how many people saw or read the article in The Times. Others are more difficult to distill but no less data-driven. When executives are focused on numbers, it’s important to use the tools you have on hand to showcase the impact of your PR campaign.
Ultimately, budget-driven business environments often coincide with crisis-driven situations, and that’s what we find ourselves in now. PR is an integral part of a company’s ability not just to survive the pandemic, but to thrive beyond it.
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