Anything worth investing in requires preparation, a solid foundation. The same applies to Organizational Communications or Public Relations. Some ten years ago, our agency started dabbling in new language to explain the essence of our work and profession. Public Relations architecture is what we settled on, quite organically. It caught on quickly within our consultants and clients. With so many business leaders in a state of confusion as to what PR is, does or doesn’t do, it’s easy to understand why the term has caught on. It’s also helped us to elevate our services above the melee of those who struggle for attention at the more technical/tactical or executional level deep within our sub-disciplines*. Today, thanks in part to the architecture symbolism, we now have a starting point from which we can speak to our clients about roadmaps, SMART objectives, integrated communications, and great value of ongoing engagements and an overall vision of what we’re after. From that starting point, our team can more freely provide counsel on what a Communications department should look like and how it should be built — from the ground up, undergirded by a fertile worldview.
Ideally, PR should stand as its own department working with all other functions of a company such as marketing, human resources, operations, legal etc.
A PR function should also embrace what we’ve called the three realms of our profession:
- Communicating the message (“massaging the message”)
- Listening — to feedback, all audiences, relevant stakeholders etc.
- Corporate / Leadership coaching (akin to change management or management consulting) – which focuses on encouraging our clients to act in strategic ways
The most effective approach to Communications is and has always been a 360-degree perspective (considering all audience groups and sub-disciplines* of PR); but, as a default, that’s not how things work in agency life. We’re typically brought on for something very specific or ad-hoc, and so we’re forced to reframe the conversation quickly to a more integrated and holistic framework. In ordinary agency speech we affectionately call this “to meddle” in the client’s business. For example, when we’re hired for smaller project such as a crisis, a product announcement, or a brand launch, we’ll quickly segue to discussing ramifications of this particular mandate on other stakeholder groups – almost always starting with employees. We make it a point to ask the tough questions – seeking inspiration from journalism itself. We like to say to our clients that we’re their resident journalists or editorial committee. This understanding may be foreign to some, but rare are the clients who don’t appreciate it. We make our ultimate and final goal clear to our clients from day 1 – to help them develop a fully actualized communications function – a flourishing PR and communications department that delivers to specifications. Thus far, by and large, clients have eagerly embarked on this exciting journey.
How to grow in PR?
In a recent podcast with PRofessionals & Coffee, Daniel Torchia was asked for his top tips on how to grow in the profession.
Network Not just in professional circles but also in one’s daily life and at mundane locations. When people have a positive, sincere, and polite disposition, are engaged and ask questions, it’s a recipe for success.
Take notes Employers love it when others take notes. This seemingly small tip takes on important dimensions in an informational interview or board meeting. You can make a good impression and people notice it.
Read and learn from the industry Great resources include the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), Public Relations Society of America, and it Strategies & Tactics publication. Knowledge of these organizations and having a pulse on the trends and industry standards show you are interested and engaged. On the corporate side, it’s important to get to know the industry, watch the important actors, and study relevant PR departments: Are they using the Associated Press (AP) or Canadian Press (CP) styles? Which companies have a high-quality newsroom? Which spokespersons provide great interviews and unfettered/generous access to media?
This post only scratches the surface of Communications excellence. If you’re left with an unsatiated itch to learn more, give us a call, or send us an email. We are always happy to chat about the profession (vocation) we love. Daniel can be reached at [email protected], JC at [email protected] and our HR team at [email protected].
* Examples of PR sub-disciplines: Corporate Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Internal Communications, Issues/Crisis Management, Media Relations, Influencer Relations, Social Media, Sponsorship/Event Marketing, Public Affairs etc.