Whether you are setting out fresh from the ideation or have spent some quality years building a business empire, there are some vital statistics through forecasts or systemic procedures you should not take for granted or overlook. Likewise, before taking it further, it is idyllic to ascertain that doing a lot and little is known of, is not a testimony any business owner or driver would want to hold on to.
In essence, to bridge the gap and laugh really well, there is a proven tool that has helped businesses or organizations achieve communication objectives when rightly deployed. And that is Public Relations (PR).
PR is a familiar profession with business drivers’ little understanding and total reception, and that alone is worrisome, most especially in Africa. It’s so because many business drivers failed to recognise the core set-out of the profession and how it translates into a tangible turnover. PR, in a holistic view, is a strategic communication process that involves building and maintaining positive relationships between a business, an individual, and its relevant stakeholders – internal and external inclusive.
If the above is PR, what then is Reputation Management (RM)? Straight to the point, RM is also a process with a focus on monitoring, influencing, and managing an entity’s reputation so as to remain positive and highly acceptable across the board. Yours truly, reputational management like public relations, requires strategies to function effectively as well as achieve the intended goal of good perception and acceptance.
However, just like a mathematical concept, Public Relations are a ‘universal set’ that gives a ‘sub-set’ title to reputation management. What this implies is that PR is a broader concept that involves building relationships from scratch and projecting the outcome through positive perception leveraging and safeguarding while spreading, while reputation management is a tool deployed as a strategy for ensuring all ‘t’ crossed and all ‘i’ were doted appropriately. In essence, RM monitors and provides data to ensure PR efforts are not wasted while in the public space.
Haven’t said all that, there are some important strategies that PR capitalizes on to achieve the goal of objective communication and desired business destination, and they include but are not limited to – Media relations, crisis communications, digital/social media communication/marketing, community engagement, employee communications, and stakeholders’ communications. Let’s check each out.
Media Relations. In public relations (PR), media relations are a powerful strategic management tool of interactions between an organization (business drivers), individual (celebrity or public figure) or entity and media organisations’ representatives – content drivers (journalists/reporters), editors, and member of the press. Media relations help to effectively communicate the business’ message, news and, offerings through the media to the general public who are regular consumers of such news platforms. A good relationship with the media’s representative is a win for a business as the tendency of it enjoying press coverage is high.
Crisis Communication. There is an adage in the Yoruba Language that says “You cannot walk without the head shaking”. This means, nobody is perfect, so also is a brand or business. Hence, PR professionals prepare ahead to combatany unforeseen challenges that could come up in the future regarding the organisation. Crisis communication is a strategic process of managing and mitigating the impact of a crisis in an organization involving reputation, image, public perception, and loyalty. The most important aspect of this process is to restore public trust and maintain perceived or owned credibility.
Digital/Social Media Communication. People spend most of their free time on digital and social media platforms. Hence, PR professionals leverage the vital role of this virtual community to engage their clients’ target audiences, amplify their messages, and manage perception. This is done through up-to-date profiles, regular content creation, audience engagement, and crisis management and influencer collaborations.
Community Engagement. PR professionals understand the effectiveness of getting people involved is why community engagement is birthed as a strategy to build and nurture positive relationships between an organisation, brand, individual, and the community where they operate. Most importantly, this strategy involves active participation in initiatives and conversations that align with the organisation’s mission, goals, and values.
Employee Communications. It’s ideal to note that effective employee communications foster trust, engagement, and a sense of belonging among employees, thereby leading to improved satisfaction and productivity. Having grab of this, PR strategically manages information and messaging between an organization and its employees with the aim of creating a transparent, informed, and engaged workforce. The overall result of this strategy is an increased positive internal culture, increased morale, and alignment with the organisation’s values and objectives.
Stakeholders’ Communications. Effective stakeholder communication helps to build relationships, enhance reputation and maintain support as well as trust from those that matter. PR professionals deploy this strategic approach to recognize the diversity of stakeholders’ interests and focus on building transparent, meaningful, and mutually beneficial relationships through necessary connections.
Critically digesting all that PR does, it’s becoming as if reputation management has an almost insignificant role to play. But that is very incorrect! RM is like a security guard who ensures no intruder enters our beautiful garden as it could be, damaged or devalued. Hence, here are four activities reputation management does to the overall PR efforts –managing online reviews, social media listening, addressing feedback, and, mitigating potential crises.
As a wrap, PR involves building in the right place or making the seemingly wrong place appear as the right place through relationship leveraging, strategic postulations, and promotion of positive perceptions, while in the same vein, RM is concerned with monitoring and upkeeping the final product – the building (image, perception, and loyalty).
Nevertheless, it is now safe to say there is a thin line of which business drivers or owners must take note, however, PR and RM pass the baton to each other when the need arises because both are birds of the same feathers which must flock together to achieve the set-out communication or business goals.
Olayemi Samuel Oluwaseun is a marketing communications practitioner and an associate member of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, with a keen flair for digital solutions and tailor-made strategies for corporate and brand alike. He has been around in the industry for close to a decade. He can be reached through Twitter – @olayemisamuelo_ and LinkedIn.