We hear a lot about external PR best practices these days. Articles, blog posts, podcasts, books and a host of other references talk about “5 Ways Media Training Can Help You and Your Clients” or “How to Become a Reporter’s Best Friend” and “Five Ways Being in PR is Like Running a Group Blog.”
These are all excellent references for us to read and digest, identifying meaningful bits and pieces of the advice and observations that we can put into practice to become more effective PR practitioners. As I gaze around the PR digital ecosphere there is one thing that has always stumped me about the subject of PR advice – why isn’t there more written about effective internal PR as the foundation for external strategies?
Seems logical that if you can’t get a grasp on internal PR, external campaigns would be a lot more difficult to execute.
Regardless of the PR environment you operate in, we can all stand to benefit from keeping some of the core internal PR tenants in mind as the foundation of our external efforts as well as a way to augment our results in the aggregate. Here are 5 tips for strengthening your internal PR strategy to achieve improved results:
1. Hold regularly scheduled PR meetings – Scheduling meetings or portions of meetings focusing solely on public relations helps to keep the lines of communication open with you and your front line staff (usually customer service, sales) on what PR projects are currently running or soon to be launched. Plus, it allows for a chance to get external project feedback or results that otherwise may have slipped by you to either of these departments that they forgot to forward on to you (which never happens, right?). Extra – Use these departments as internal focus groups to test your new ideas, briefly brainstorm about resources you may have overlooked or see if they have any ideas worth pursuing.
2. Post new PR materials internally immediately after they are released – There has been a lot of talk in 2012 about breaking down silos and improving internal communications, abandoning the old mentality of operating in a vacuum to promote increased transparency across a company. How much more impactful is a News Release if you aren’t the only one in your business touting the message? Considering that most employees (especially sales) are permitted to own and operate their own social media channels, encourage these colleagues to help increase message amplification by sharing PR content with their communities. Leverage the power of many when broadcasting your PR messages and make it easy for staff to access and spread the word through their channels. Extra – Tag your content links using Google’s URL Builder to track internal company shares and how much traffic that is sending back to your site. Analyze these results regularly to see what content resonates with customers and prospects and make the necessary adjustments to your strategy.
3. Include internal staff in PR content – There is no better way to empower colleagues to share a message than including them in the content you create. For example, if you are shooting a video promoting a product or perhaps one that demonstrates training on how to use your product or service, recruit in-house staff as cast and work with them on developing a compelling message. Harness the enthusiasm of your co-workers because it often translates into higher quality content plus it encourages them to share with others. Extra – Develop an editorial content calendar that maps out a timeline of your plans and list staff you plan to include to get the creative juices flowing early and give them a source of motivation. Motivation breeds productive employees.
4. Encourage management to develop a social media policy – Surprisingly, a recent Infographic reported that 40% of companies have no training or governance of social media. If your company doesn’t have a policy or has one that doesn’t include guidelines of how to share company content and why it’s important, encourage management to develop or amend a social media policy that includes this information. Once it’s in writing, hold a meeting and train employees on how to use social media channels and how they can help to drive traffic and sales with their efforts. Extra – Use analytics or industry case studies to prove your point. The Internet is chock full of examples that can be used to support your objectives.
5. Publicize internal PR results – Use a white board, bulletin board, intranet or other communication platform and keep employees abreast of project results. No one wants to think their efforts disappear into a black hole and aren’t impacting the bottom line. Prove to yourself, your colleagues and management that cooperation and teamwork pay much bigger dividends than you or your department acting alone. Plus, it provides you a little kick in the pants to continually stay on top of your internal PR outreach and make the necessary changes and adjustments to improve results. Extra – Increased leads, higher sales, and an engaged community spells a win-win for you and your company. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes with your internal PR efforts along the way as long as you fail forward.
Do you have an internal PR strategy in place? What tactics and strategies have you found to be effective?