Not a secret, we know that the world economy is sloping downward into what we hope isn’t oblivion. Companies aren’t hiring and where my dad works, where they are trustees for the bankruptcy court, business is booming.
One of the first couple of departments to get the axe in the corporate world seems to be communications: advertising, marketing and public relations.
But my biggest question, not even a concern, is why is that? I just don’t get it. We are needed.
- 1) Value Added
Remember our talk on the Added Five Percent? Well, I wasn’t kidding. Public relations provides a huge ROI; one that isn’t always measured in numbers. Think about it, quality over quantity. A simple phone call or “thank you” note will suffice. The people in PR are trained to analyze, decode and relate messages to a targeted audience. That is their job, that is what they do.
Public relations is one of the most competent forms of communication for changing messages andÂ supervising public opinion. Obama did it with “Change” and the phrase “Yes We Can!” But you don’t really think he came up with that all on his own did you? No, that would be David Plouffe and his team of communications experts.
- 2) Credibility and Trust
People tend to trust people, more than they trust an advertisement in a magazine. We are humans and we like to be marketed to as such.Â This what public relations does. It takes the source and disseminates its message in a unbiased, two-way symmetrical form of communication.
Yes, I said unbiased. Public relations isn’t a propaganda machine or a bunch of SPIN doctors trying to fool you. It’s about communication. Everyone is always looking for trustworthy sources, especially since there are just so many bad vibes surrounding the industry.Â In essence, public relations professionals are dependable sources for consumers and companies, alike.
For example, when pirates attacked the Maersk AlabamaÂ it was a team of public relations, crisis management,Â professionals that got the right message across to the public and the families of the people on board. Maersk utilized their team to create a safe, community-friendly and transparent message to diffuse the situation at home and around the globe.
- 3) Media Relations
Hard news or soft, does it matter? Yes, of course it does and a public relations professional will tell you which method is the best means of conveying your message.
Television, radio, trade publications, newspapers and blogs all rely information, but they are unique to the audience that prefersÂ their specific medium over another. As a business, you shouldn’t sacrifice your long-term goals to meet the short-term ones just because of a fad or a trend.
Believe it or not, Twitter isn’t for everyone and neither is Facebook. Just because Oprah is on it, doesn’t mean you need to be too. Choose your mediums and choose them wisely. Seek advice from a public relations professional if you do not have one in-house.
A good public relations professional will show you that you do not need a huge budget to be successful, rather, you need to understand what you have and work with it. They will help you meet you short-term goals, while, not sacrificing your long-term ones in order to keep your business afloat.
Public relations can keep your business in the public eye, and also work journalists in order to make sure that the best possible message gets out. That being said, it is important that PR pros have a solid understanding of how a newsroom works, the utmost respect for journalists (they are people too, not story-making machines) and know AP Style.
- 4) Aggression
In a downward economy things just have a way of slowing down, but that doesn’t mean that you need to do so with your messages. Increasing your brand awareness during a recession can actually be beneficial. While the competition is slowing down, you aren’t.Â A solid public relations strategy will position you for growth — slowly during the hard times, only to speed up when things get better. That’s the beauty of PR, it can take you through the good and the bad.
The thing is, PR should be there through good times and bad. Jumping on the bandwagon of success, doesn’t make you a good communicator, it makes you a follower — a passing trend. The different between good and great is sticking around. Public relations can help you do that.Â Too many companies are axing the communications departments to cut their costs.
The best thing for a company to do is to be visible, time and time out — at the end of the day, this is what builds trust, credibility and staying power.
- 5) Be Strong
The great thing about public relations is that there is the opportunity to say exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it.Â The strength of your messageÂ is often better conveyed via blogs, websites, press releases, ‘notes’Â and features.Â Blogs, especially, give a more flexible medium for messages to be circulated. With a blog you can say what you want, however you want to say it without any rules…for the most part.
Often it’s pretty easy for people to believe the first thing they hear. NewsÂ travels fast. Public relations can communicate the most positive form of a message or compress the damaging ones. PR watches out for inaccuracy, the fatal no-no against transparency.
PR is quick — think about social media. When customers reported a “glitch” via the Amazon Fail scandal, it was their public relations team sent in to diffuse the ticking time-bomb. Within hours, the situation was amended. Granted, amending the situation didn’t help Amazon’s image, but it still rectified itself to some sort of middle ground.
That’s the beauty of public relations, it’s flexible, ever-changing and growing, and shouldn’t be axed to cut costs.
At the end of the day, the rewards earned will be more than worth keeping PR around.
Sasha Muradali runs the â€˜Little Pink Bookâ€™Â . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations and an M.A. in International Administration.