Working in the PR space, underneath the giant communications umbrella, we definitely know the value of good, open communication on all fronts. Communicating with the media and with the public via traditional and social media are the main things we are known for as PR professionals, but what about the behind-the-scenes communication? So many companies come to BLASTmedia to get national media coverage, a bigger social media presence, or to rock it out for them at their industry tradeshows, but many times they come missing something vital to any company’s success – internal communication.
Let me illustrate. Company A wants to make a major announcement. So the CMO begins sending info to the PR agency to draft up the release. The release gets drafted and sent back over to the CMO, who approves. The PR agency begins pre-pitching the announcement, puts it over the newswire (if requested by the client) and makes outreach to the target outlets and editors, bloggers and thought leaders that would be interested in the announcement. Articles run. Potential users/customers are Tweeting about it. Everyone is happy right? Wrong. The CEO of Company A reads an article written in The New York Times that has completely different messaging than what he was thinking the announcement should have had. Or, he might even see the release picked up from the newswire on an industry trade outlet and say, “who wrote this? This isn’t at all what this product release should have been about.” Immediately, the CEO gives the PR agency / account rep a call or shoots them an email blasting them for wrong messaging, not illustrating the product’s/service’s key points, etc.
Is the PR agency really at fault? Possibly. But as I’ve seen many times, it is a total lack (or at least an extremely dysfunctional channel) of communication within Company A’s management team. The CEO, President, CMO, Head of Global Sales, and even the company mascot all are saying different things, wanting their agency to talk to different target audiences, with sometimes COMPLETELY different messaging. A PR agency can only do so much with the direction we receive. We can learn about your product or service, your industry and competitors and give you our feedback on what your positioning, messaging and audiences should be, and then execute on that plan. But what we can’t do is make sure that plan (positioning, messaging, timeline, audiences, etc.) is clearly articulated, or even mentioned, by the CMO to the other executives. We try to pull everyone that is involved into our world for a bit to let them know exactly what we do (and don’t do), how we do it, and what their expectations should be of us. We can’t however, tell a CEO how to run his/her company or what he/she should expect from his/her team – nor can we demand access to him or her to approve messaging. Sometimes that’s the biggest problem with companies: if a company can’t get their communication, message, goals etc. defined within their executive team (even with our guidance from the outside), how is a PR agency supposed to execute on that plan? More importantly, how are your customers supposed to understand what your messaging is?
Internal communications is often overlooked, but if a company can’t figure it out themselves and how to work together within, how are you supposed to move forward? It’s your base. If you build a house (or company) on sand (faulty products, lack of business plan, poor leadership or poor communication), your house will crumble. If you build it on rock (quality products, quality business plan, visionary leadership, and a tight executive team), your house (or company) will stand, and will be able to be built upon, for years. On what are you building your company? Are you communicating that to your team? We love helping companies either way, but it is a heck of a lot easier to do our jobs (get media coverage, which hopefully improves sales, Web traffic, etc.) when Company A is on the same page with each other…or at least in the same book!
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