When most people think of public relations (PR), they see it as a tool for companies seeking to get in the newspaper or on television. While that can the priority for many PR efforts, business owners can also utilize PR to benefit their companies and their various stakeholders.
Looking past the traditional constraints of PR – seeking media attention – it is important to acknowledge all of the audiences our messaging need to reach. This includes shareholders, vendors, customers, investors and often the community we call home.
Other than the media, one of the most important audiences for any PR is your team of employees. Informing your own staff through PR has its own set of priorities and challenges, but it must be a central part of your communications approach, whether through PR, marketing, advertising or brand messaging.
As one of your key audiences, your team needs to be informed of what’s happening, involved in the messaging for your brand and be able to share the themes and identity you have built for your company.
Here are some ways to make sure your internal audience is connected with your external PR efforts.
Be honest and truthful
No matter the issue, whether it’s a simple information campaign or a crisis communication, focus on the honest presentation of your information. Don’t try to hide it or couch it in some fancy language. Just explain the PR, the details and information in a simple and truthful way.
Honesty requires openly sharing information, even if it will impact some of your team. The best way to solve problems is to understand them, and the best way to understand something is through information offered in a genuine and thoughtful way.
This will help staff understand what it is you are releasing to the wider public and allow them to share it in the same honest and forthright way.
Share pertinent information
Give all the information you can to your team. Provide the facts in an easy way to understand and share anything that is important to what you are writing about.
At the same time it is helpful to realize that your internal audience can also be easily engaged through storytelling. Make it personal to them as employees. Present the message in a way that outlines the basics but also tries to convey it in a way that your employees will understand and appreciate.
Make your team first, not last
Now, having said that, it is vitally important to think of your staff first, especially if the news you are trying to share to the wider audiences of media and community will impact them. Let’s face it — most company news worth developing a PR campaign for is likely to affect your team in various ways, whether it’s an expansion or new facility, a change in services or products, or a company goal or approach that will involve team members, such as a giving program or a service project to benefit some need in your community.
Ensuring everyone is “in the loop” is the first step, and the employees deserve to be at the beginning of your information campaign, not last or an afterthought.
Involve your staff directly
Finally, not only inform them but involve them. Employees are members of the community as well. If they know the facts and information, and if they understand what it is you are trying to accomplish, they will be better equipped to share it themselves.
Team members talk about what is happening in a company, not necessarily with their managers but more often amongst themselves. If they are talking about your announcement with each other, they certainly are sharing it with family and friends. They are also likely to be sharing the PR with professional colleagues and peers in your industry.
Lean on your employees, trust them to assist you when it comes to reaching the community or even the media. Like everyone they read the news in some fashion, follow the latest developments in the community and greater world and connect and inform one another and others on a lot of topics and issues.
When you focus on PR in your business, there is a high level of responsibility needed to gather your information, prep it in an understandable way and share it, especially if you are seeking help from others in the media to help inform the community around you.
This responsibility requires honesty, it requires storytelling and information and it helps if everyone is involved, especially those in your factories, your offices, your showrooms and on your service teams.
Don’t let PR be something only for the media, or a limited audience. Communications is just that – communicating to everyone and anyone who may be impacted or have an interest in what you are doing.
Your employees want to be informed and want to understand the ramifications of what you are doing in your company. If the message is worth spending time and effort on PR, it’s also worth telling your staff.