By: Laura Frnka-Davis, LFD Communications
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed daily life and work as we know it. To remain relevant and competitive, businesses will need to take advantage of every possible tool at their fingertips.
Among these tools is public relations (PR) – the management and maintenance of mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics it serves. While often grouped in with marketing, it serves an entirely different function that has the capability of increasing visibility, extending goodwill with the community, and ultimately strengthening the bottom line.
Business owners are often busy focusing on the next big project and making sure deadlines are completed that they often dismiss tending to their reputations. Your attention right now elsewhere and for a good reason, given all the different distractions in the world right now. But reputations are critical, especially during tough economic times. If you position yourself well right now, you will emerge from these challenging times that much stronger and nimble.
Having a PR presence on the team can help strengthen your reputation not only highlighting services and products offered, but amplifying core values and expertise through thought leadership opportunities. A contributed article in a trade publication, a quote in a local news story, or a speaking engagement at an industry conference or convention (albeit virtual right now) are all examples of how PR help communicate trust, experience, and knowledge. Furthermore, highlighting a collaboration with a local nonprofit can prove to be newsworthy and an excellent way to generate positive feelings about your organization out into the community.
Reputations also include what others are saying about an organization in online forums. This part of an organization’s notoriety cannot be ignored. Even before the pandemic hit, many decisions were made based on the experience of others as communicated on online platforms such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Referencing what others say on social media will no doubt continue to influence how people make business decisions. Responding to these reviews in a thoughtful, personalized way is a critical reflection of an organization’s brand, and yet another way, having a PR presence can help position an organization for success.
Allowing a PR professional at seat at your management table also enables you to prepare for when the inevitable happens: a PR crisis. And it’s not a matter of “if;” it’s a matter of “when” as we’ve seen recently with businesses from across all sectors of the economy. A PR professional will help you prepare to make sure your messages are aligned adequately and your organization is portrayed in the best possible light.
It takes years to build a solid reputation, and it can prove its weight in gold when appropriately managed. But when not managed properly, it can be destroyed in a heartbeat. Having a trusted PR advisor on the team will help you navigate through tough situations, providing sound counsel, and responding to media and public inquiries, so reputations that took years to build remain intact.
Just as it requires special skills to be successful in your particular line of work, so is the case with PR practitioners. Those in the PR field spend many years gaining experience and building relationships, which cannot be taught overnight. Should a business owner decide to bring on a PR expert, it may be best to outsource. Here are some reasons why:
Speed– A PR expert knows their area of expertise. They bring a value of diverse experience and know-how to get it done. While each industry is different, PR skills (writing, working with the media, and managing public sentiment) are often transferable, and it’s relatively easy to get someone up to speed.
Specialized help – Experienced PR professionals have “Been there. Done that.” Perhaps they have worked with a similar client in the past and have worked to solve the same problems. And they have a vast array of resources available.
Cost-efficient – Outsourcing someone to do PR can be inexpensive as compared to bringing on someone in-house because you don’t have to pay the overhead, including benefits and retirement.
No one knows for sure what the world will look like post-pandemic. But one thing is certain: those who survive and thrive in business will need PR to bolster sales, increase visibility, and most importantly, to foster trust.
Laura Frnka-Davis, APR, is the principal owner of LFD Communications, a PR firm based in Missouri City, Texas. For more information, visit www.lfdcommunications.com.
Laura Frnka-Davis, APR
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