You are the director of the company or its owner. You have heard what PR is, but you have never used public relations tools in your company, and now you decided to start doing it. But where exactly do you start?
Step 1. Decide what PR is for you, choose an appropriate definition, outline the goals of PR and how to measure it
What is PR? The classical definition boils down to the fact that it is the management of information flows between the company and the consumer. Why manage these flows? In order to create a positive image of the company / person / project in the mind of a person.
Everything seems to be clear. But the word “PR” in different companies means different things. Often, the functionality and tasks of a PR manager from project to project differ like heaven and earth. And “creating a positive image in the mind of the consumer” is often only an intermediate goal that should lead to action. And the action can be different: go to the company’s website, get interested in the product, buy it, recommend it to a friend. Anything.
This is where we understand that PR helps to solve completely different problems.
For example, for Company A, PR is “to be featured in the media as often as possible so that people talk about us”. In this case, the KPI for PR is the number of publications.
For the company, PR is primarily a tool that increases the number of leads. In this case, the number of publications as a PR goal is secondary. The question comes to the fore: how much exactly each PR activity led to leads.
For a company, PR is not about a company, but about promoting a TOP / company expert / company founder. In this case, the goal of a PR specialist is to introduce a TOP / expert / founder / director on TV, in the media, on the radio, and to provide speeches at conferences and forums.
For Company D , it doesn’t matter how many blogger posts you make, no matter what the crop. The main thing is how many sales from these posts were.
Therefore, the first step that the founder must take is to choose what is closer, necessary and more profitable for you and your company. It is important to convey this understanding of PR to the entire team. So you will be in the same information field, and not on opposite sides of the barricades.
Step 2. Determine the place of PR in the company
There are two options:
- PR is considered only one of the marketing tools serving the main goal – to increase sales. In this case, the PR specialist, as a rule, reports to the marketing director.
- PR is completely independent and does not obey marketing in any way. Sales are on the sidelines, and the goal of PR is considered, for example, to create an image, reputation management. PR manager – reports to the general or commercial director.
Step 3. Hire a specialist or empower a company employee with PR functions
When hiring a PR specialist, attention should be paid not only to his professional competencies and knowledge, but also to his fundamental competences. Professional competencies can be taught quickly enough by immersing a new employee in the specifics of the company, while fundamental ones are much more difficult.
What are the fundamental competencies?
- Responsibility. How much does a potential employee take responsibility for actions, successes, and failures? You will know the answer to this question when you ask them to talk about the success and failure of the previous job.
- Focus on results. Unfortunately, there are a lot of procedural people among PR people: they will conduct endless negotiations, get bogged down in meetings, constantly communicate on the phone. But they will go slowly to a result in concrete figures and it is not a fact that they will come. When communicating with a candidate, pay attention to how often they use numbers in their story. An effective PR specialist is much more effective than a procedural one.
- Passion for the topic, work, project. Do his eyes burn when he talks about his work, cases?
- Interaction paradigm. This competence shows how a person will behave in relation to the team and the company in a critical situation. There are four paradigms:
a). victory – victory. A candidate with this paradigm will try to choose the best option that suits both the company and himself. He finds opportunities in which all participants benefit;
b). victory – defeat. A person with such a paradigm is aimed at high results, but is ready to “go over their heads”, is ready to easily sacrifice the interests of other people. He tends to choose the simplest and easiest solution, which guarantees him the maximum result, but he does not think about how this will affect others;
c). defeat is victory. A candidate with this paradigm is characterized by sacrifice. They often follow the lead of employees with a “win-lose” paradigm;
d). defeat – defeat. These are candidates who are always unhappy with everyone. They adhere to the principle “neither themselves, nor the people.”
It is ideal to select a candidate with a win-win paradigm.
Together with a PR specialist, draw up a PR strategy for a certain period, based on the company’s goals
How to create a PR strategy? You can use this step-by-step plan for drawing up a PR strategy. Lean on it or any other plan.
In a PR strategy, you definitely need to understand the following points:
- what was done before, what were the communications based on, even if they were still situational and not controlled;
- at what moments of the company’s activity does it need public relations;
- what channels and tools were used and with what efficiency;
- what is the company’s reputation in the eyes of its target audience, how positioning correlates with the proposed product;
- how employees themselves perceive what they are doing for the outside world.
Step 4. Together with the PR specialist, mark the benchmarks for reports and meetings
Strategy is a fairly flexible tool. It is important not to stupidly follow what has been written, but to timely do Check-Act according to Deming’s cycle. What is it?
The Deming Cycle or PDCA is a cyclically repeating decision-making process used in quality management. There are four important steps to always achieving quality results.
- Plan. To make a plan. It can be a plan for promoting a project, conquering the world or an individual journalist, or even a plan for your working day.
- Do. Act. Bring your plan to life, step by step.
- Check. Check daily (or at least regularly) whether you are going according to plan or have deviated. To understand what interfered with or, on the contrary, helped in work and actions.
- Act. Adjust actions based on validation.
For example, you need to create a base of 100 partners. You have drawn up a plan of your actions and a list of potential partners, wrote an offer letter, and sent it. Only 10 out of 100 responded. Cooperation took place with one. Agree, the funnel is not very good at all.
With the PDCA approach, you need to constantly analyze the results during the work. Immediately think about why potential partners react so slowly: maybe the letter is boring, too complicated, opaque and not catchy. We need to find the reasons, eliminate them and act further.
The same is true when implementing a strategy. You check: are you going there with your strategy and plan? Maybe something happened that affects your communications and results?
In my experience, one or two meetings a month is enough to understand whether the reality meets expectations and whether it is worth making changes to actions and PR activities.
You, as a project / company manager, must decide what PR means to you, what are its goals and objectives. Next, you need to convey this understanding to the team and the PR person you will select, taking into account the fundamental competencies.
Your role does not end there: together with the PR specialist, you draw up a PR strategy, discuss priority communication channels, important goals and formats.
And the last step is control (where without it!). You assign reference points to understand if you are going there with your PR strategy.