November 30, 2020
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to listen to a very educative and thought-provoking session on the “Role of Public Relations in Business” by Mrs. Karen Annunciation, Head Corporate Communications, OYO Hotels & Homes – India at our Vile Parle Monthly Chapter Meeting.
In a lucid and fast-paced presentation, Karen covered the role of Public Relations (PR) in small businesses and large business houses and the ways to manage crisis and virality in today’s times of social media communication. Here are a few of my takeaways:
1. PR is one of the most powerful ways of managing your business reputation. There is a difference in what you say you are, what you are and what your customers think you are. It is not what a brand, person or company says about itself. It is often decided by what people say about you when you are not in the room.
2. PR helps you connect with your stakeholders that could include your customers (this restaurant has great food and an awesome ambiance), employees (my organization culture and the challenges I handle motivates me every single day), your future investors (with media reports showcasing the achievements of this company every month) and partners too (if you want to partner with new companies or begin new divisions).
3. PR helps raise awareness of your brand, draws in new customers, enables easier recruitment, boosts supplier relationships, generates positive media coverage, helps influence government policy and defines what you stand for.
4. PR is different from advertising. You don’t pay for it but use your authentic story to get people to change their perceptions. It has greater credibility unlike an advertisement by an actor who could often endorse a product or service that he doesn’t really use.
5. PR can take place on all platforms – via the traditional newspapers or television or using the more modern avenues like Instagram, Facebook, Website, Podcasts, Blogs, Webinars on LinkedIn with contributory posts and comments positioning yourself as a thought leader.
6. PR Tools would include Press Release (an official announcement from the company), Press Conferences (Planned by the company where the spokesperson is trained on how and what to speak), and in-house newsletters and day-to-day updates.
7. PR can even help lawyers build their brand via a platform like Linkedin when they comment on and engage with other people’s stories, provide their analysis and perspectives and get known based on their smart, intelligent and logical contributions.
8. PR is especially useful during crisis situations. You need to remain calm and think of the short term and long term impact of the problem. Speed of response is critical. You need to gather the facts, admit and apologise if you have made a mistake, and suggest a solution.
9. PR will help you handle the aggressive bullies who threaten you that they will go to the press and destroy your brand if they don’t get what they want. In most cases they won’t reach there and no ethical journalist will print their story unless they reach out to you for your side of the story.
10. PR is vital in managing virality of content. Anything that triggers emotions like happiness, sadness, nostalgia, etc tends to go viral quickly. In cases where the number of followers are large, you may need think differently and respond quickly and in a responsible way.
The several case-studies, illustrations, examples and stories in the presentation followed by the question-answer session provided a very absorbing and high-impact learning experience for all of us.