3 Ways to Elevate the Role of Public Relations in Organizations

In this pandemic, there are silver linings. The pandemic has shed light on why managers and business leaders should acknowledge the strategic and essential role of public relations and communications. Both have been at the heart of the most critical business activities, whether it is meant to inform, reassure, or mobilize employees, or managing the multiple layers of external communications.

Furthermore, businesses are becoming increasingly important for the public in general. They are expected to address unmet needs from governments. We also expect them to take a stand and get more involved at the societal level; expectations go beyond words, stakeholders want concrete actions! Finally, with the acceleration of digitization and increased direct contact with customers and other key audiences, public relations managers must engage in this conversation on an ongoing basis, whether it be to listen to it, to contribute to it, or to assess it.

Aligned Business Priorities

Companies are also realigning their top management priorities. For about a year, not a day has gone by without hearing about societal impact, ESG, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, or business transformations. The alignment workshops between vision, mission, and values that our team designs are running more and more frequently. More than ever, decision-makers have their eyes riveted on the same priorities as us communicators.

3 Ways to Elevate 

In my 30-year career, I have never seen such a favorable context for recognition of our expertise. The door is wide open to redefine our role as communicators and our relationships with other leaders. It is more than time, if it hasn’t already been done, to move public relations in a direction that allows communicators to have a voice on the executive committee.

Here are specific ways to help further develop your strategic role and increase your contribution to your organization’s business affairs:

    1. Listen while asking the right questions. Listen actively to develop an excellent understanding of the business’ challenges. Ask: what is the main issue or opportunity, how have we tried to address it in the past, what happens if we don’t act, what are the deadlines, etc. Ask courageous questions, question the status quo, and offer new perspectives. No one (in their right mind) is going to blame you for making them think.
    2. Talk business. Identify the cost or opportunity, the overriding reason for your internal client. Afterwards, help them assign a monetary value to it. For example, how much is it worth avoiding this crisis or what can we gain if we increase our visibility in this market segment? Then, develop an approach with a substantial budget for this issue or opportunity and take the time to compare it to the cost or gain identified beforehand. 
    3. Beyond the communication spin, propose actions. In your plan, include concrete and meaningful actions, not just communications messages, but actions to reach your goals and objectives. To do this, draw inspiration from the needs of stakeholders, starting with employees. They bring a wealth of ideas!

Of course, there are several other ways to elevate the role of PR and communications. But, I can guarantee that if you start with these three steps, you will make significant progress. Keep us informed on your journey!

Marie-Josée Gagnon About the author
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