The next two weeks are prime time for holiday office parties. Office parties are the few occasions when we gather with our colleagues but don’t necessarily feel obligated to talk shop.
They’re a license for people to lighten up from the daily and demanding grind. But for PR managers and directors, these gatherings are an opportunity.
The office holiday party may be the one time of the year that you get to take the collective pulse of the company, gauge the major concerns among the employees and harness those concerns into more effective communications.
With that in mind, here are a few ways the PR team can use the holiday party to enhance its service to the organization and build reputations and relationships for the company.
> Check the DNA of the company and determine which areas of the enterprise that fall under the purview of PR—say, the CSR plan, social-media guidelines or brand-ambassador program— may need to be revisited or reset altogether.
> Play the role of conduit by introducing C-level managers to the rank-and file, and vice versa. By doing so, you break down some of the inherent barriers in many corporations and better familiarize yourself with the entire communications ethos of the company and how people relate to one another.
> Listen, listen and listen some more. You seldom get a chance to meet with all your fellow employees and communicate with them in a no-pressure environment. So take perfect advantage of it by allowing your colleagues to do most of the talking. By listening (and asking sincere questions) you might learn about someone who has a talent (voice, design, videography) that can be harnessed for content creation, Web programming and other areas where PR shares ownership.
And more than that, uncovering hidden talents among team members provides you with new ways of thinking about the brand and how the company can behave more like a media company (regardless of what you’re selling).
With heartfelt apologies to Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, once in a while you can get shone the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right. Start with the office holiday party.
Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1