By Ronjini Joshua

Source of Article: here

While traditionally, businesses have seen public relations (PR) and marketing as some of the sacrifices that are made when costs need to be cut, the pandemic showed everyone in business that a nimble PR and marketing strategy can actually be a lifesaver.

PR is the core to establishing long-term brand resilience. Evolving with the state of the PR industry over the past 20 years, I have seen how truly essential the skills of PR professionals are within business development, growth and stability. To the untrained eye, having your brand featured in articles is a nice-to-have but not a must-have. To us pros, PR teams are responsible for creating cohesive messaging and direction across target audiences and business departments. In fact, brands that do it successfully are able to weave PR messages across six core categories of their business: business development, investor relations, brand reputation, sales, marketing and social media teams.

It may not always be easy to identify the “home” button when running a growing business, so leveraging this strategy is a way to have your very own North Star in business. Here is how it maps across the six core business elements:

1. Business Development: PR is all about storytelling. Leveraging the tactic of key messages for your target audiences gives you the ability to use the tactics of PR to hone in on who you will be talking to and what you will be saying to them in a more meaningful and direct manner.

2. Investor Relations: Everyone knows that having investors is a blessing and a curse, and regular and open communication is a difficult task, especially when starting up. When using a PR approach to communicate with investors, you can map your progress to your roadmap and your overall vision. You can leverage a good PR focus as your compass in speaking with investors and explaining the what and why of what you do.

3. Brand Reputation: Playing a starring role in brand reputation, PR can give you a real leg up by building credibility and a track record. If anything does go wrong, then you have got a public history of achievements to fall back on. And in case you are on the wrong side, common PR best practices guide you to respond early and openly to get out of any additional trouble.

4. Sales: Most people do not feel like PR plays a key role in this important element of business, but securing media articles and driving awareness of the brand can easily support your sales team by showing outside interest in what you are doing. You cannot be the only one singing your praises. Tell your story to the media and lean on those wins to support your sales efforts. You can also leverage other traditional PR tactics like the content creation of white papers and case studies to support your teams. Yes, PR people do that, too.

5. Marketing: People have challenges in discerning marketing from PR in most situations. An easy way to identify the difference between marketing and PR is paid versus earned content. PR is typically more editorial and organic in nature, while marketing is more associated with solicitation. They can sometimes look very similar (when done correctly), but marketing often has a stronger call to action or sales angle, and PR materials are focused on being educational and informative in nature. Your PR messages should definitely be integrated into your marketing messaging to create a cohesive front across your departments.

6. Social Media: We all know that social media are the most bite-sized and entertaining pieces of content that your company is producing to attract more eyeballs. However, if you are not staying in line with your PR messages, all that may be lost when it comes to the sale. It is important to understand that even at the start of the funnel (social media), you should have a message that will resonate all the way through to the end.

PR has evolved tremendously over the past 10 years and even more so with a global pandemic. Just like any A/B testing or marketing strategy, PR should map to your core mission and values but be flexible to incorporate innovative ideas. Your PR strategy should stay synchronized across your business units, while your tactics should remain nimble. This gives you an opportunity to pivot when you need to.

It is important to check in with your PR strategy quarterly at a minimum; monthly is ideal. You will find that any business strategy you create with PR at the core is a strong and sustainable methodology for building a successful business. You will be able to stay in line with your overall brand, mission and values as well as effectively communicate with your audience with the right messages. Putting PR at the core of your business strategy is a smart way to develop a brand that is genuine, authentic and constantly moving toward a positive common theme.