Management of PR and Corporate Communications strategy –
It is a commonly held belief among managers that the reputation of a company depends on what stakeholders think and perceive about the company’s products and services.
This belief got impetus due to the recent corporate crisis, globalization and the financial crisis which the world faced recently. Retaining, maintaining and protecting the company’s reputation became a part of the corporate communications strategy process and the Public relations.
Till 1970’s, corporate communications strategy was not entitled to be a different field but would term as Public relations for formulating effective communication with the stakeholders especially with the press.
The situation changed when the other stakeholders started to seek more information, and company had to view communication as more than conventional Public relations. From here the concept of corporate communications strategy began to take shape.
The important task was how the organization present itself to the main key stakeholders. This role was fulfilled by the .
The corporate communications strategy as defined by Van Riel is “‘an instrument of management by means of which all consciously used forms of internal and external communication are harmonized as effectively and efficiently as possible’.
It involves corporate designing, advertisements, new means of internal communication, establishing relations with investors and different public affairs activities. So does the corporate communications strategy became a part of PR or separate to it is a question?
The dependency and relation of PR and corporate communications strategy depend on how and to what extent the company relates to the public. Some aspects of the industry operate in PR which is concerned with the media while others operate in corporate communications strategy, especially those who manage their relationship with employees, investors, and government.
But in many companies PR is also related to the dealings with the other groups or stakeholders like developing effective means of communication with the employees, dealing with the public affairs or function as financial PR for the media contacts to generate an influence over the investment community.
Some might also be involved in the corporate social responsibility or crisis Communication or in Change Management. PR role depends on what criteria company has set to impart an effective communication channel with its stakeholders and mode of communication and so does the role of a corporate communicator.
Further thrust was given to bring both the marketing and public relations under one umbrella however this did not appear to be practical and neither feasible.
But both the disciplines while presented separately had to balance each other and manage together within the framework of corporate communications strategy. This framework presented the holistic and more customer oriented form of practicing communication management that is leveraged through many disciplines that were at the core of the marketing and public relations.
The way now corporation communication and public relations started getting managed depends more on the way marketing communication and public relations began to be integrated, which depends on the three main factors:
- Environment and Market-driven factor
- Communication-based factors
- Changes in the organization which we can term as the internal factors
Environment and Market-driven Factors:
Organizations of today are facing an increase in the demand to fulfill their corporate social responsibility and to maintain their transparency regarding their operations.
To build the transparency, meet social expectations and present themselves as trustworthy institutions, organizations adopt different measures to integrate marketing and Public relations. Through this method, they formalized all the modes of communication and adopt uniformity in the system.
Corporate communications Strategy based Factors:
In today’s environment, it has become extremely difficult for the organizations to get heard and to make their presence felt amidst stiff competition. It is estimated that a person receives around 14000 messages in a day.
The integration of the corporate communications strategy can make its way through the clutter of messages and have the company’s message or brand reach its audience.
Retaining consistency in messages can help the organizations to look at the stakeholders fairly well. Organizations make consistent efforts to protect their image by aligning and controlling their communication campaigns.
There is a need for the communication to be used strategically to position the company. Since 1990, organizations were also concerned about the idea is known as “corporate identity”, “corporate reputation” or “corporate branding”, which lays more emphasis on the importance to position and link communication to the organization’s corporate strategy.
Through the efficient use of the time management and by reducing the cost, companies have been able to build and improve the quality of their communication system.
This restructuring constitutes bringing different communication disciplines for better integration and working practices that proved productive, cost-effective and gave many beneficial results.
Public relations campaign is initiated in different stages that set the pace for Corporate Communications strategy, which ensures the effective utilization of the Public Relations and Corporate Communications strategy skills:
- Setting up the PR Campaign Objectives
- Find the potential audiences
- Formulating PR and Corporate Communications strategy and tactics
- Practical implementation of the campaign
Setting up the PR and Corporate Communications Strategy Objectives
For effective communication, it is imperative to place the objectives on what the company is attempting to achieve, which is based on the SMART principles (Specific Measurable Attainable Results-centered Realistic Time-bound).
Setting the goals has many benefits, as it allows stakeholders to understand and comprehend what is expected and planned. It also helps to calculate and analyze the resources that are required and when and how it could help improve communication between the participants and achieve results.
A widely held myth had been that it is impossible to measure public relations, therefore, it is not possible to scrutinize its performance and budget but now any PR activity can achieve measurable objectives as its value has been enhanced.
Establish the Goals:
Creating the goals that can be delivered to the stakeholders and help them understand the company’s position, ideologies and in which direction the company is oriented towards. Though goals are difficult to be measured it is possible to measure the objectives in the quantified terms, for instance, the company says my objective is to increase the profit by ten percent next year. Here the company’s objective is being directed. We can say objects are a set of goals which can be achieved by fulfilling the set objectives.
Further, these goals are of three types:
- Reputation Management: Form the public relations goals to improve the image of the company in the eyes of the stakeholders and make all the efforts to improve the opinion of the organization.
- Relationship Management: Forming strategies on how organization establishes relations with its shareholders through communication channels.
- Task Management Goals: It is concerned with achieving the set tasks
Many public relations practitioners are satisfied to show their intentions which allow them to rationalize their outcome. But there are situations when they are not able to prove their value and what they have contributed, the result is they have to face the scrutiny of the senior management.
But by displaying measurable targets has helped them present their efforts, frame the future campaigns and bring positive benefits. Setting the result objectives also helped them to specify the results and then measure whether the result is achievable.
However, to plan it professional judgment is implied to decide different communication activities or processes to get at the result.
Find the Potential Audience
Before the start of any campaign the priority is to find the audience towards which company aims to reach and public strategies and tactics are targeted, but how could they do it. This is done through intense market research and survey.
Many of the media outlets publicize the interest, income as well as other demographic of the readers to attract the advertisers, so it is best to look at the different advertisements that would guide the audience they are seeking.
Study the Market Needs
Many companies conduct the research to find the needs of the target audience and their tastes and preferences. And then by using this study as a base, the constructive plans are formulated.
The public relationship management entails into forming a relationship with the reputed spokespeople, holds different events, give gifts with the product samples and creating websites and perform several other activities to meet the market needs.
There are many more different ways also to get on the nerves of the audience and know what they want.
Create the memorable campaigns
Campaigns are simple with unique slogans that conjure with the targeted audiences and make them memorable. The taglines or logos are designed that resonates with the people and give them the feeling of closeness and what the company stands for.
Many leading companies create so beautiful and lucrative advertisements that they are remembered even though they have stopped running.
Finding the Trusted Influencer
Companies partner with the agents, people or companies who are trusted in the communities which are being targeted. An influencer is thought of as a person who leverages the communication process to build the repo and the status of the organization.
But as a generally assumed influencer is not someone who reach as many people as possible through exerting his influence or power but reaches the right people through his social networking and best communicative way. Important is to have e endorsement of experts if you want your foothold in the market.
Set up PR and Corporate Communications Strategy and Tactics
An initial step lies in analyzing the past year’s performance. If the businesses have achieved the media attention previously, making the assessment of the outcome is best and what all had been achieved.
Find out different angles and pitches that already has been worked perfectly well in the past that resulted in coverage. Next, find the way to use the company’s objectives as a base to develop and form the key media message, make sure what you wanted to say and achieve is reflected.
Your message will become a backbone of the way you have communicated during the year. Next find out what different kinds of tools and tactics you would be requiring and create the same as:
Set new releases calendar to create a plan of the news releases you would like to issue this year.
- Build a database: Create a database of reporters or other media personals. The list should contain the contact details of the publications and journalists and organize as per the priority and how valuable each is.
- Present Case Studies: The case studies are very attractive as they provide many real work examples of the different benefit of products or services.
- Participate In The Industry webinars or Panel Discussions: When planning make PR arrangements to make available for yourself as a keynote speaker or a member of the panel discussion. The value you get in entering into these engagements would be a great idea particularly for the business growth, however, it also requires vigilant planning as the speaking opportunities are only finalizcorped many months in advance.
- Social Media and Blog: Create the plan for socializing and make yourself available in social media. Also, reach out for blogs like Technorati. Your presence in a blogosphere can help you have a perception as a thoughtful leader. Besides sharing of a video of the product or a service of a company is a great way to move ahead.
Implementing Corporate Communications Strategy Campaign
In public relations, this stage is deemed as a fun stage needing considerable skill. An action plan is formulated to make sure that implementation carries on smoothly well.
A public relations manager is initiated to devise a plan specifying the complete schedule, different areas of responsibility, details of the media contacts and calendar of events.
These are distributed among the different committee members, executive managers, business group managers and public relations members.
Formation of the Hierarchal Structure for Organizing Communications
The coordination of the different departments and decision making takes place between the Public relations and other communication disciplines. All the disciplines are used separately or as own for public relations or marketing purpose from a holistic or corporate perspective.
Many organizations have therefore given promotion to their corporate communicators or PR managers to higher positions. These higher positions in the organization’s hierarchy enable the Managers to strategically and orderly coordinate the communication strategies.
This is further achieved by forming of the structures in a way that the tasks are evenly spread over the departments and the same are properly coordinated and structured into the basic function.
These structures get the horizontal shape which allows companies to immediately respond to the situational crises, establishes control and ensure that regular messages are being sent out through the different communication channels.
Here the role of multifunctional teams comes which helps in coordination and integrating the work of different communication disciplines.
Use of The Tools
Organizations also use many tools for documenting their work through their different disciplines and departments. These tools are known as flow charts, process maps, and checklists.
These documents develop understanding among different communication practitioners through the process of integration, thereby making the organization less depended.
This would also allow communication practitioners to standardize their process against other companies reducing cycle time.
Forming of Corporate Communications Strategy Guidelines
A final mechanism of integration includes the use of the corporate communications strategy guidelines. These guidelines are designed to regulate the work process, maintain integrity, discipline, and are more design-oriented like the kind of colors to use etc.
Many organizations have a style book that has specific design regulations and also core values for corporate identity. Also, workshops can be conducted to familiarize the practitioners with the work practices.
Corporate management has brought a deeper perspective for managing the corporate communications strategy.
Many companies have integrated different corporate communications strategy activities in one single department for better management and with a focus on brand positioning and sustaining reputation.
They formulated market-driven activities which are based on simple themes and concept that reach the stakeholders, which is done through the support of their inner teams which coordinated and managed.
The themed based approach and the regular measurement and assessment helps the companies to re-initiate their steps to achieve more valuable goals.
Here are some articles that will help you to get more detail about the Corporate Communications strategy so just go through the link.