Marketing and PR resource is precious and activity should deliver clear and measureable results. Here are five ways to get the best return from your investment.
1. Open access to the board
Public relations is a strategic management function that helps organisations achieve their objectives, whether that’s awareness raising, behaviour change or sales.
It can only do this however when practitioners have access to the relevant data enabling them to align the communications objectives with the corporate plan.
Your public relations team might not need to have a seat on the board, but they need access to the management team to understand the direction the business is going in and respond accordingly. They should be a trusted adviser so don’t be afraid to share confidential information.
2. Invest in skills development
Public relations professionals now have an opportunity to be at the top of their game wherever they are in their career because there is finally a clear path to follow.
The launch of the Global Alliance’s competency framework makes it easier than ever to identify skills gaps from entry level public relations right through to mid-senior level capabilities.
Critically, the framework moves practitioners away from a focus on tactical abilities and encourages development in management, consultancy and financial skills.
Set aside money for staff training and use the framework as a basis. When recruiting a public relations professional, look for membership of an industry body like the CIPR or PRCA. It means the person has committed to continuous professional development and is also bound by a Code of Conduct.
3. Go channel neutral
Public relations is not just media relations and with the lines between disciplines blurring, the skillset is ever wider.
Any good public relations practitioner will already being employing the PESO model, that sees campaigns developed around Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media.
Ask them. If they’re not, there’s a clear skills gap and you’re not getting the most from your public relations and marketing investment.
Your team should have a full understanding of the different comms channels out there, the kind of content and messaging required and advise on which are appropriate based on your target audiences and return on investment.
Most public relations campaigns now contain an element of paid promotion to amplify messaging so this is to be expected. You should also be focusing heavily on your own website and channels in order to engage directly with those who matter. Not only will this build fruitful relationships, it’ll be more cost efficient in the long run.
4. Measure and evaluate
Public relations campaigns should be measured against business outcomes.
Last year AMEC launched its latest framework, which is a step-by-step process to linking organisational objectives to communication objectives and measures across all PESO channels.
It’s free and interactive so there’s absolutely no excuse not to be using it. You’ll see better results immediately and the insight will change your team’s approach to comms planning.
5. Read, read, read
Finding alternative perspectives and identifying trends early is important to public relations practice and that comes naturally when you read widely. Your team should be doing this but you should also be following suit in order to understand the latest opportunities, as well as the benefits you should be deriving from your spend.
The Holmes Report and Spin Sucks, while very different, offer international perspectives, and industry blogs such as www.wadds.co.uk, comms2point0.co.uk and www.futureproofingcomms.co.uk all host a wide range of industry content that will get you thinking.
If reading isn’t your thing or you can’t find the time, there are various industry podcasts providing similar info in a different format. There are a few out there and they’re perfect for commutes, dog walks or even while you do the weekly shop.