How a robust PR strategy can support future growth

20/10/2020 13:13:26
In a business landscape where ‘normal’ is shifting on a weekly – and in some cases, daily – basis, here are some of the things we think growing companies should be considering from a communications perspective to make sure their PR strategy is robust and supports their continued growth.

Take stock

Start by looking at the impact the last six months has had on your business reputation. How has your reputation fared among your employees? If people have been out of the business fo a prolonged period, are they still as engaged in delivering your vision as they were, pre-Covid? Has that vision changed, and do they know what it is? Six months is a long time to be out of the loop, and if you haven’t been communicating with your team throughout furlough, you might well find you have work to do to reintroduce, re-engage them and get everyone up to date on your plans. 
Have customer relationships strengthened or suffered over lockdown? Is there a job to be done to reinforce your reputation and market position? Is your supply chain secure? Who else is important to your business, and what’s their view of the organisation as things stand today?
All these questions will help you evaluate your business position and reputation among everyone who matters. If all those relationships are solid, happy days. If there are knowledge gaps, a mismatch between external or internal perception and reality, a strengthening of relationships or a repair job to be done, now is the time to do it. And communication has an important role to play.   

Does your external image match your internal focus?

Many businesses have shifted focus, products, or service offer because of the pandemic. And it’s happened fast. Which means that if you don’t have someone in the business responsible for communications, or an external agency working with you, there’s a risk that your external comms may not have kept up with business changes. 
At a very basic level, it could be as simple as updating your website. Perhaps you changed your contact page or added information about how your team was working at the start of lockdown. Have things changed since then? And, if so, has your website? 
Or it might be more significant change. If you’ve added new products or services to meet a specific market need, have you explored all the potential avenues and markets for that product/service through your sales, marketing, and PR activity? 
Now is the time to look at this and review your marketing and PR strategies to make sure they reflect where the business is now, and where it’s heading next. 

Trust: the good news for SMEs

Research findings published in July showed that people are twice as likely to trust information from their employer about returning to work than information from government. The Dynata survey of 1,000 people in the UK also found that 5% of UK workers trust their employer’s judgement totally, and 14% trust it a lot. National leaders and politicians didn’t fare as well, with 20% of respondents saying they have no trust in them. 
Add to this reports showing that over the last six months employers have paid more attention to the needs of their workforce, which has resulted in an engagement boost, and companies that have treated their employees well are in a strong position to retain a stable and loyal workforce that will support their continued growth. 
Don’t be complacent, though. Maintaining and building on the actions that have helped you over the last six months will help see you through your next phase of business growth, and beyond. It will also help you attract the calibre of people you need to achieve your growth ambitions, and a solid internal communications strategy and plan has an important role to play. 
Externally, how can the enthusiasm and support from within your team help attract the new people you will need as your business grows? Consider how attractive your business is to would be employees and look at a proactive communications approach that will help you reach the people you’re looking for. Not everyone thinks about PR as a recruitment tool, but it’s a powerful one. 

Business in the age of authenticity

Corporate image has previously been seen as the preserve of big blue-chip businesses, but there’s a shift happening, which the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated. The way companies have behaved through the pandemic has shone a light on their values and ethics - for better, or for worse. And people are rethinking their relationships with businesses, with a move towards purpose and values - essentially people wanting to buy from, work with, and work for companies whose values match their own, and that have a purpose beyond profit.
This means that businesses of all sizes with ambitions to grow should be thinking about the social value they create as well as the value they deliver to their employees and shareholders. And communicating that value should be part of their PR strategy. 
Beware, though. Lip service won’t cut it. Handing over money for a sponsorship and sticking a logo on your website each year won’t stack up among people who are looking for companies that are genuinely living their values and purpose. Backing your words with actions and making sure that your business is practicing what it preaches both inside and outside the organisation are key to being credible.    
So, as you look ahead to whatever the next six months – and beyond – holds, make sure your business reputation is included in your strategic planning. It’s not just your business processes that require a step change as your company grows; your PR does, too. Act now, and make sure your reputation isn’t lagging behind as your business moves forward. 

We can help to shape a robust communications strategy for your business.

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