You’re a fool if you don’t involve your PR in decision making

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If you’re not involving your public relations people in the strategic decisions of your business then you are a fool.

A study by the University of Southern California (USC) has found that organisations that allow PR and communications to play an active role in strategic planning, take their recommendations seriously and believe it contributes to the bottom line are more likely to have better external reputations.

And, I suspect that it is social media that is driving this trend.

The USC study asked participants to describe their organisations and for those who said their business was successful, had a good reputation, was innovative and proactive there was a strong link with public relations involvement throughout the decision making process.

As a result, USC’s Professor Jerry Swerling concludes that in this new environment, Public Relations is seen as a strategic asset affecting enterprise-wide policy and behavior, rather than in its far more limited, historical role as a purely tactical, secondary and largely marketing driven function.

Traditional public relations activity saw the command and control model reign supreme, whereby organisations could communicate with a limited number of media outlets to get their message across.

In Australia, this meant if you were able to get the local paper and television station to cover your story, it would be relayed to their many thousands of viewers and readers who would accept the message through the filter of editorial independence.

Beyond journalistic endeavor and a capacity to follow-up a story there was little opportunity for these messages to be further tested and even if people did discover that the organisation was not telling the truth, there was little they could do to expose it other than hoping the local media outlet may be interested.

However, fast forward to todays’ social media environment and we have moved from communications by one to many, to an ability by many to publish to many more, which has a dramatic impact on how organisations communicate.

No longer can organisations say one thing and then do another as it will be exposed on social media, they must now not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

This means that public relations advice is more fundamental to the strategic goals of the organisation, because if the impacts of a companies decisions are not fully considered in the context of its reputation and public perception, any flaws in the strategy will soon be on social media.

So to succeed, involve your public relations professionals throughout the strategic planning process, don’t just ask them to issue a media release at the end of the process and hope it will all run smoothly.

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