Expectations and realities in PR
As a manager, how many times have you felt misunderstood in a meeting concerning the communication strategy?
Likewise, as a PR specialist, how many times have you found yourself trying to explain your purpose in the organizational environment?
Both positions are a result of the conflict between expectations and reality, and each of the parties involved in such discussions brings its own preconceptions, predispositions, and desires.
The fulfillment of the huge potential of PR depends heavily on understanding the purpose it serves in the evolution of a company and on the trust that the management is willing to entrust upon the specialists managing the organizational reputation.
What does management expect from PR?
In general, most companies, through their representatives, want PR to provide the broadest possible exposure in the most favorable light, and for the smallest possible budget (because it is already heavily allocated to advertising).
In some situations, managers expect the PR specialist to be a sort of spokesperson or public representative for the company that ensures directors should not have to expose themselves to the media or to resolve any emerging image crisis miraculously.
Most preconceptions start from misunderstanding the mechanism of public relations or from associating them with other branches of public communication. For this reason, often questions like arise: "why allocate a separate budget for PR, when we already have a consistent one for advertising?" or "how soon will we see improvements in the company's revenues?" or "doesn't the marketing department do the same thing?".
What does PR want from managers?
The first role of PR specialists is to explain that public relations represent a long-term investment. The implementation of the right strategy can stretch between six months and a few years, depending on the objectives. During this time, the company will see moments with high impact, but also some subtle, which will bring less visible benefits.
Because the PR's primary concern is to build and protect the reputation of an organization, the ecosystem involved in this activity is much more complicated than making an advertisement, writing a press release, or organizing a conference.
The most productive collaboration starts with management presenting a detailed and candid vision regarding the communication campaign, along with the foreseen challenges, threats, and opportunities. All this information, together with contextual analysis and perception studies, helps PR to define the communication objectives correctly, to create the right messages, to build the approach that best benefits the organization, and to establish a path that ensures a consistent public speech.
While organizations are waiting for a magic formula to improve the visibility of their product overnight, any good PR specialist will focus on building long-term trusting relationships with the media, opinion leaders, influencers and relevant communities in the industry. By cultivating these connections, the company will benefit, overtime, from broader coverage and an improved reputation.
The same scheme applies to the direct public of an organization because the messages transmitted through PR need time to be received, understood, and assimilated. Strategically positioning a company in the minds of consumers is the result of a communication plan adapted to each audience, using specific and impactful messages, distributed through suitable channels and at the exact right time.
Where do the visions meet?
The success of the PR - management relationship depends on the respect that each gives to the other's perspective and the appreciation of the value that each can bring in developing a successful strategy.
While PR specialists should understand the needs and expectations of management representatives, they, in turn, must take into account the realities of public relations - the fact that to reach the desired result, one needs time, an appropriate budget, and the freedom of corporate speech.