Chances are that you do not have your own PR person like most public figures. But then, if you’re a public figure, PR person or not, you still need to be actively involved in creating a strong reputation for your brand. Whoever you are and whatever you do, you need to be able to build the kind of public perception you desire for yourself. This is in order for you to attain that position, get that raise, lead that project that you’re totally qualified for, or just be what you really want to be.
Just so we’re clear, this is not about making public speeches or press releases that highlight your achievements and all. I am talking about the basics of PR as you know it, or better still, the four defining rules of PR. It’s important that you know them, take them to heart and ultimately, live by them.
Let’s get started.
1. Define Your Audience
Whether you’re creating a new website, writing a business proposal, or walking into a board meeting, you need to know who you’re dealing with. This is better referred to as an audience-centered approach to communication. As stated by the Business Communication Foundations- an effective business message focuses on its audience -, so while you may be talking about yourself, the end goal is that your communication is meaningful to your listeners.
In getting to understand your audience, you can ask questions such as: Who are the people that make up my audience? What problem is my audience currently facing? What business solution do they need right now? What are their current goals?
You can also know your audience by engaging them in meaningful conversations to better understand their expectations. You can ask simple but specific questions such as- What do you expect from me in my new position?
2. Foster Relationships
While phone calls, conference calls, emails and texts are important, face-to-face relationships top the list for the best means of building relationships in almost every kind of profession. Executives believe that face-to-face communication is highly rewarding and this is further buttressed by a Harvard Business Review report that states that in-person meetings are essential.
Rather than worry about the possibility of having physical meetings amidst busy schedules, you can find a way to work with whatever time is available to you. You can have a brief business meeting over lunch instead of sending an email. You can also walk in to the copywriting office to explain a theme rather than sending a text. The idea to make yourself visible as a real human being rather than an automated robot that sends mails and texts. The result is that people will easily think of you when opportunities arise.
3. Be Proactive in Handling Crisis
Crisis management has three rules- be open, be quick, and be helpful. An error as simple as sending a message to a wrong recipient or as serious as omitting figures in a financial report, can cause a crisis on a good day. You may not be able to resolve the problem at once with these three rules but you can always reduce to the barest minimum, the severity of the outcome.
Your best approach to being proactive during crisis is to acknowledge the mistake and tackle it straightaway, to avoid worsening the situation. This is what it means to be quick. The earlier you inform people about the crisis, the earlier they can take appropriate action. It is advisable that companies have a crisis communication strategy so that everyone can be on the same wavelength during crisis. You also need to have a personal plan as well, just in case. This can be as simple as designating contact numbers for certain contingencies.
However, if it’s a problem you cannot directly solve, you can mitigate the adverse effects by helping out in a non-invasive way. This may involve client service management or giving the audit team information they need to sort out financial records.
Lastly, be open. Make your mind up on how you’ll address the crisis. You will always need to address it even if it was resolved before others noticed. Say something. The phrase ”no comment” is discouraged by the Institute for Public Relations, as regards best practices on crisis communication. This is because it will make you or the organization you represent look guilty. Instead, you can say “I’ll get back to you on that,” as a more practical reply.
Remember to communicate with your boss(es) or colleagues about the problem being faced. State the steps taken to resolve the situation as well as plans to prevent a future occurrence. Answer questions they may have afterwards and be sure to update them as the need arises.
4. Follow Up and Keep in Touch
Follow-up is a core part of building relationships. A PR professional will tell you that your pitch is incomplete if you have not followed up. Your follow-up may be a bit different from the norm because your end goal is not to interview a minister or get an article published, but rather, to boost your profile.
Consistency is a crucial part of follow-up. According to a Sales Research compiled by LinkedIn, an average individual makes two attempts to reach a prospect, but 80 percent of sales are made after follow-up, usually within the 5th to 12th contact.
So, stay in contact and be consistent in your dealings with people. This will get your message through and also put you out there as a person of integrity who is committed to following through. This consistency will make you more trustworthy. You can be depended on to deliver on your word.
There is a thin line between following up and being annoying. Read up on Elliott Bell’s tips on being persistent and pleasant while you’re at it.
All in all, these four PR rules will give your profile a boost and increase your visibility. This will in turn help you be successful in your career path as you build a brand you can be proud of.