Public Relations alone cannot manage corporate image, consumer brand and business reputation in a vacuum that is detached from the rest of the company. The days of “top down” messaging, control of the message or source, positioning statements and moving our publics with positive reputation management programs are waning fast, so you must adapt now. Here’s how:
Today’s Web-based services allow PR practitioners to deliver a more consultative approach to managing brand and reputation support. The methodologies are changing almost daily, with PR workflow tools now available to manage corporate issues, crisis communications and product lines.
The latest “dimensional thinking” suggests PR can address and align separate product groups, market segments and geographic territories in real-time. Your team can see pertinent information through monitoring; align distributed teams using secure collaboration to review, comment or approve content; and deliver fast socially relevant media. Think of it as “socialized media relations.”
The difference is that PR execs must have everyone in the organization speaking up for brand and reputation. We have been involved in fascinating workshops about how to empower employees to speak for your firm, whether via Twitter, blogging or word of mouth. Take it a step further and you can see that shaping corporate messages, engaging public audiences and working through crisis challenges involves everyone.
Touch points in the organization may include sales, the C-suite executives, legal and even HR. Being collaborative and using workflow systems that are permission based will give people the power they need and the voice they deserve to help you
Do you ever feel like you are swimming upstream in the organization? That PR is seen as less relevant, or that you are always defending budget and ROI? Sharing responsibility and flattening the organizational response to communications gives the PR exec the freedom to think more strategically, less reactively and, most importantly, less defensively.
Having more corporate visibility and transparency to your peers and management team is not a high risk behavior (what if they only “knew what was in the sausage factory?”). It is extremely liberating to flatten and open the PR process to the entire intellectual resources of the team.
Anything less than transparency, open lines of communication and seeking input from a variety of sources is just not taking advantage of tools of the trade.
Chris Johnson is Founder and CMO of dna13, an enterprise communications platform company located in Ottawa, Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.