We are in uncertain times and unchartered territories. Everyone is feeling it personally, financially and business-wise. With a looming recession, the natural reaction as business owners is to retract into our shells, tighten up our budgets and let everything and everyone go that isn’t essential to operations. As the business owner, you may think “Well, there are no press releases to be written right now since we are not producing any news.” Or “Everyone is talking about the Pandemic and other scary worldly issues, and we are not doing anything related to that, so there’s nothing for PR to do right now.” It seems like an obvious cut, so you make the decision to let your PR team go for capital preservation.
However, consider this: your Public Relations team has a skill set that can help your business in many capacities. A PR professional has organizational skills, speaking skills, writing skills, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills – many things that are crucial to nearly every aspect of a business.
Here are 8 Reasons To Keep Your PR Team During Tough Times.
- Communicate to your Employees. During tough times, many businesses worry about external communications and forget about the importance of communicating to their employees. Good internal communication improves and/or maintains employee morale and company culture. How you are communicating to your team about what’s going on with the business is incredibly important and often overlooked. The downside is too great to not have a trained PR liaison to help you with this. Good PR people are consiglieres in times of crisis and tough times, and can be of great value to you when you have to present challenging news, figure out how to have tough conversations, or help you better present the message.
- Research Speaking Opportunities. Did you know that you need to apply for speaking opportunities at conferences, events, and forums, 6-9 months in advance? That’s how long it takes to apply, brainstorm the most relevant/appropriate topics, draft the submission for the organizer to review, wait for them to get back to you, and then have the event. This is a process that starts early, and downtime while the economy is slow is a perfect time to plan ahead so that when things lighten up, you are ready to hit the speaking circuit with a full calendar in place. Right now with the global pandemic, dates for conferences might be shifting or uncertain, but in some cases that means deadlines are extended or the conference is still looking to find good speakers.
- Find More Media to Cover You. The more media that you have relationships with, the better your chances of getting media coverage. This equals exposure, eyeballs and traffic to your website, ultimately resulting in potential leads and sales. Media sometimes moves around publications as often as millennials change jobs. That said, this is a great time for your PR team to refresh your media lists, since reporters’ may have left, been promoted, are covering something else, started a new column, etc. It’s also a time to find new press, do your research on them, and add them to your lists. The more you know about them, the better equipped you are to pitch them with relevant stories when the time is right – and that research takes time.
- Develop Thought Leadership. One way to get authority and credibility in your industry, is to establish yourself as a thought leader. Ever seen long pieces of content published by CEO’s in magazines or newspapers? How does that happen? It requires time and focus to come up with contrarian points of view and a deep understanding of your industry. Consider this a great time for your PR person to help you build out a comprehensive content calendar, support you in writing your ideas into narratives and pitch your content to be placed in publications. This is a way to stand out, showcasing you as a smart leader in your industry portraying strength during a trying time.
- Build your Customer Advocacy Program. Your customers are your biggest asset. When they talk about your business, people will listen because you’re being validated by a third party which equates to credibility. Credibility equates to trust. Do you know who your champion top customers are that are talking about your business? If not, it’s time to find them. These are the customers that you present to the press for quotes and interviews, and also the customers you keep on hand as advocates for your marketing efforts. But, it takes time to find them, call them, hear their story. Now is a great time to dive into your customer database and figure who these champions are that are loving your product or service. Choose who has a great story for customer testimonials for the website, and pick a few that you think would be great with the media. Take the time right now to work with them and make sure they are comfortable talking to the press, and build out a program that highlights them. If you’ve already started this, it’s a great time to find more, curate new customer stories, so that when business picks back up, you have fresh new stories!
- Refresh Sales Copy. Yes, that’s right. A lot of companies are surprised at how big of an impact PR messaging can have on sales talk tracks and messaging. Your sales copy, whether it’s for your sales representatives on the phones or on your website, should be in direct correlation with your company narrative and story because it’s all connected. If your sales representatives are telling your potential customers a different story than your PR person is telling the press, that’s problematic. This is a great opportunity to sit down and align all company messaging. You may also find that by aligning these, your sales representatives hone in better on your core value proposition and are more effective on calls, in demos and closing deals.
- Curate Awards. Think about what your customers buy – your product or service, right? Why do they buy your product or service? They trust you. Why do they trust you? You seem credible. Why do you seem credible? Probably because somewhere down the line, somebody else talked about you – whether it was a thought leadership piece mentioned above, a blog, a magazine, a customer, or they googled “best of XXX.” Those Best Of lists? You often have to apply to them. Those awards? You often have to apply to them. This is a PR tactic that often gets pushed to the bottom because it’s not a top priority, but it’s extremely important for the third party validation and trust of your business. You’ll be amazed at how many different types of awards are available in your respective industry once you start researching!
- Support Product Roadmapping. You may have never considered including your PR team in this part of the business, but they actually may have some really valuable insight for you. They are often the ones on the front lines talking about your business and telling your story, so they understand your product or service inside and out. They are the ones talking to the media and getting helpful feedback from customers. This could be vital intel for building out your product roadmap.”
A few more ideas: Revamp and refresh your messaging. Dig deeper into your social media program. Build the blog you’ve always wanted to build. Conduct another competitive analysis to see who is new to market.
Set your business up for success. Consider the downtime a blessing to come back stronger than ever – because when business resumes (and it will), these tactics will pay off.