It’s time to make some big decisions at your company, and you need feedback and planning advice. Most likely, you call in your vice president, the CAO and CFO, the legal team, an executive assistant or two and maybe even a director of business development. Is PR also at the table? More importantly, do you value his opinion?
According to findings from the eighth Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices study, recently published by the Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center at USC Annenberg, approximately 40 percent of the respondents reported that PR plays an active role in organizational strategic planning. The study further proved that “organizations in which PR is involved in strategic planning are more likely to have better external reputations,” due to a variety of factors, and this trend is expected to continue. To prevent your competition from taking advantage of this trend before you do, you should strongly consider your structure and PR’s place in it.
The importance of a strategic plan
Your strategic plan sets the direction for your company. It lists your goals and acts as a roadmap to help you reach them. In addition, it should also detail barriers and obstacles and how you can remove them.
Ideally, your strategic plan should include tried and true methods while also leaving room for taking risks. It is a living document that can help you plan for the future, but must still be flexible enough to allow for adjustments. Whether you use in-house PR or hire a PR agency, you should include public relations at the beginning of all strategic planning efforts.
The role of PR
If people don’t know about your product, or they don’t know enough about who you are, they will not purchase. As you determine the target audience and numbers necessary for attaining your objectives, PR input is crucial for discussing the best, most cost-effective ways to reach them so that you will know if your goals are attainable. Certain actions are necessary in the pursuit of the ultimate goal for every business, which is to increase profits. For example:
Building brand awareness
Connecting with and engaging your audience on social media
Improving your reputation
Driving more traffic to your website
Promoting positive stories
In addition, all of these activities require content, from blogs to media pitches, and this content should tie into and relate to the strategic plan at every level. If PR is not involved at the outset, you’re forcing the PR team to play catch up later, which could serve to delay the creation of key messages and negatively affect measuring efforts.
It’s also important that your plans be communicated company-wide to all key stakeholders. Everyone from the receptionist at the front door to the CEO in the corner office must be working toward company goals and staying true to the messages from the beginning – but first, everyone must understand what they are. This will help to improve the chances that your strategic plan will be a success. PR professionals, at heart, are communicators, and can help you achieve internal as well as external buy-in.
Simply put, PR initiatives must be at the core of your business activities and growth strategies.
The next step
Let Axia demonstrate how PR can and should operate as a strategic partner and trusted advisor in realizing your goals and improving your results. We use smart, inventive devices right from the start to develop tactical campaigns for targeted effects. Register today for our free 60-Second Impact and remember to leave a space for us at the strategic planning table.
Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter at @axiapr.