The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
When it comes to internal PR, the “public” is an organization’s employees or board members. While PR typically involves mass media, internal PR does not. And while it may be overlooked, internal PR should be an important part of any organization's communication strategy.
When internal PR matters most
- Major changes. Don’t let your employees find out major company news via the media first. Have a plan for how to communicate news, such as leadership changes and mergers, prior to, or in correlation with, communicating with the media.
- Successes and recognition. Your internal PR program should build morale. Create programs that recognize the organization’s successes and milestones as well as recognize individual employees for major accomplishments or years of service.
- Administrative reminders. From HR and IT and everything in between, professionals get a deluge of emails with reminders and duties outside of their normal work tasks. While PR doesn’t have to control all of these administrative reminders, it should be working with these departments to ensure tools and systems are in place for communicating.
How to do internal PR right
- See it as two-way communication. Internal audiences want to be heard. Your communications programs should provide ways for the audience to submit questions or feedback. When you get questions and feedback, listen to it and pass it on to the appropriate people for action or response.
- Tailor your message. If company news needs to be distributed to internal and external audiences, your approach for disseminating the news should vary. For instance, don’t send staff the news release you sent the media. Instead, send them an email that speaks specifically to them and addresses how the news affects them.
- Prioritize it. Consider your internal audience with every piece of communication the PR team deals with. That doesn’t mean internal audiences need to receive updates for every announcement; just don’t forget about them.
- Establish a hub. “I think I remember seeing something about that, but I deleted the email.” Sound familiar? Don’t rely on email to be the only means of internal PR. By having an intranet or online internal web portal, you can recap important messages and provide key resources for employees.
Need help getting your internal PR program up and running? Axia Public Relations has helped many businesses with their communications strategies – internal and external. Download Axia’s e-book, Maximizing Your Public Relations Investment, which includes methods for using PR to streamline and maximize your communications systems.
Julie Miller is a marketing and communications professional, working for more than seven years in the industry. She has primarily worked in the technology and education sectors and specializes in digital marketing and communications. Julie has worked with Axia since November 2015.
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