Public relations – what does it mean?

Read our latest blog written by our Communications Director, Ashlea McConnell.

When people ask me what I do for a living I am often guilty of delivering a somewhat over simplified answer. I write news on behalf of various companies with a view to getting them coverage in the paper, on TV and Radio, and in the relevant trade press.

The objective? To help build brand awareness.

That tends to be enough information in most cases. More often than not, the question was only asked in passing, and in a bid to feign interest. Going into the minutia of platforms, audiences and tactics isn’t always appropriate.

From time to time however, someone shows a genuine interest, and I get to wax lyrical (for a short time, at least) about the value of editorial vs advertorial, and the fact that not all publicity is good publicity.

Sometimes, someone may even ask how we do it (and by it, I mean secure the coverage) – cue me whipping out my iPhone and taking them to the relevant news sites our clients feature on daily such as The Business Desk, Yorkshire Post, Liverpool Echo, Property Week, Schools Week and the BBC so they can get a flavour of what makes a story.

By this point most people really have switched off, and understandably so. But that means they are probably not that clear on the full picture. I have, after all, left out the most important aspect of what PR – which stands for Public Relations, incidentally – is!

PR is not just about securing coverage for coverage sake. It’s actually about establishing a strong and sustainable relationship with a company’s public – be that external, AND internal.

It’s about the right coverage, in the right outlets to drive forward wider business objectives – including sales, recruitment and staff morale.

MK was recently appointed to carry out a wider communications campaign on behalf of a client relating to a raft of internal announcements to ensure that employees felt informed and engaged throughout.

Whilst the changes afoot were very positive, it meant a degree of upheaval for those affected, and the business in question was very switched on to the fact that they needed staff to adopt a can do attitude to ensure that all went smoothly.

Therefore, a ‘this is what’s happening’ dictatorial approach was not likely to work. Fail to keep them engaged and you are likely to see a drop in productivity at best, and resignations at worst!

Employees are, without a doubt, an organisations most important stakeholder. Win as much business as you like via positive PR, if you don’t have a motivated, dedicated and committed workforce to deliver, it’s going to be very difficult to deliver the necessary results.

As part of the brief alluded to, the MK team devised a strategy which ensured that the right messages were disseminated to the right audiences, and that regular updates were issued to keep the teams abreast of everything.

This included any hiccups, on occasion, in order to reassure everyone that measures were being taken to minimise disruption NOT simply ignore that there were challenges to address (which of course there are, with any change process in any large organisation).

The results? Well, a steady ship. It’s not as tangible as a broadcast interview, or a hit in a major target publication, but with the team feeling informed and onboard with the changes afoot the project – and the communication strategy behind it – was deemed a success.