Why do I need a strategy I hear you ask?

Stakeholder engagement, like managing the media is usually only thought about when things go wrong. Normally, PR and engagement professional only get the call when the complaints are flowing, or media have set up out the front – ok we love the excitement of crisis management BUT there are HUGE benefits of having a plan that guides your engagement and communication activities.

Stakeholder engagement, like managing the media is usually only thought about when things go wrong. Normally, PR and engagement professional only get the call when the complaints are flowing, or media have set up out the front - ok we love the excitement of crisis management BUT there are HUGE benefits of having a plan that guides your engagement and communication activities.

Organisations regularly set and review objectives and goals for the business but rarely do that link those with engagement and communication activities. If you are using a website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, newsletters, emails, community events then you are communicating with an audience, potential client/customer or stakeholder.

Completing a situation analysis (fancy way of saying the who, what and why you are communicating) will give you the ability to better target your resources and develop a plan which sets out activities that cover the when and how.

For example, you might be about to lodge a development application with the local council but it's likely to raise objections from the community. This is no way a full strategy, but it gives you an understanding of the steps to take:

Communication objective: to reduce the likelihood that objections to the proposal are lodged with the council and gain support for the project.

Who are you communicating with (stakeholders): Councillors, neighbours, local community groups, council officers, business groups and media.

What are you communicating to stakeholders: Information about the project, benefits (economic, social, environmental).

Why are you communicating with stakeholders: To seek feedback from stakeholders potentially for input into the design, reduce likelihood of objections, provide accurate information about the project, reduce misinformation spreading.

Once you have set your goals and know who, what and why you are communicating it is easier to determine the best channel to use to achieve those goals set out in your activity plan and outline your key messages.

In the above example,

When and how to communicate with stakeholders: prior to lodging the development application - a briefing to Councillors, host a drop in day with a presentation/images/maps for neighbours and interested community members, conduct a survey, seek feedback forms, place information on your website and social media, host a visit to the site, have experts available to answer technical questions, attend a council meeting to address the public and provide information to relevant media explaining the project.

These basic principles apply whether it is for a specific project or when developing a communication strategy for your business.

If you have a project or want to develop a communications strategy and plan for your business, contact Mara for a chat, we'll help put you on the right track.

Take a look at Mara's 60 second communication strategy review tool.

Oh no, a JOURNALIST has my number!!

Ever taken a phone call from a journalist and didn’t know what to do…apart from panic that is? With good planning, practice and the support of a PR professional, managing media doesn’t have to be a scary event that leaves you in the corner rocking back and forth.

Confession time…hands up anyone that has ever said something you wish you could take back, say differently, just erased from ever passing your lips?

 

Yeah, thought so.  What would you do if those comments were in the public realm and a journalist phoned and asked for a comment?

 

Would you say or do any of the following?

PANIC – Why are they picking on me, surely there is a more newsworthy story out there…anywhere.  I want my mummy.

IGNORE THE CALL – No comment…no comment…no comment…no comment. Laa laaa said with fingers in your ears!

DOB IN A MATE – oh no you need to talk with Joe, he was there and knows all about it. Quickly pass on all Joe’s personal contact details.

SPILL THE BEANS – tell them everything you know and even what you’re not sure of.

PORKIES – Nup, not me, don’t know what you’re talking about, we have nothing to do with it.

SUNSHINE & LOLLIPOPS – Wish it all away.

 

Unfortunately, the team at Mara has witnessed all the above and it’s much harder to restore trust and reputations once you’ve had an interaction with the media like this.

In today’s instant media environment, everyone is a commentator, everyone can post a news story and every post has the potential to go viral.  And there is a platform for every type of media imaginable – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Blogger, Flickr, foursquare, YouTube, vimeo, reddit, google+, Instagram, and it goes on… Let alone the traditional media like radio, newspapers, television.  Journalists are in the business of selling news and manage it poorly, you’ll be the story!

With good planning, practice and the support of a PR professional, managing media doesn’t have to be a scary event that leaves you in the corner rocking back and forth.  Basically, communication, whether it is in a crisis or if it is to engage with stakeholders, protect your brand’s reputation, increase promotional opportunities, should always be planned.

These five steps will get you on your way:

  1. Undertake a communication audit and situation analysis.
  2. Set communication goals and objectives.
  3. Plan – who, what, why, how, when to communicate.
  4. Implement your communication plan.
  5. Review and update the plan.

In Mara’s next blog instalment, we’ll take a closer look at a completing a self-audit communication checklist.

For more information, or professional public relations advice, contact Mara Consulting for assistance.

Is publicity worth the investment?

“If I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR”, a famous quote by Bill Gates but what would you do with your last dollar? Do you place any value in PR and the potential that comes with generating newsworthy or popular social media content?

Reading a blog post from StartUpSmartabout the 10 milestones to hit in your first year in business, it reminded us that businesses often forget to tell people about the milestones in their business, whether it is celebrating a new staff member, an anniversary or new products and services. Milestones identified in your business plan are great opportunities to include in your public relations/communication strategy.

Public relations is all about connecting with your audience, customers, stakeholders, clients and in today’s world of social media, it’s about providing regular and relevant content to your loyal “followers” and “likers”.

Creating a strategy doesn’t have to be very complicated, but it should guide you through a thought process to get the most out of the story and most importantly, identify what’s in it for your followers. It’s easy to forget but your customers, clients and stakeholders will only pay attention if it’s relevant to them. So, take the time to put yourself in their shoes.

Here are Mara’s tips:

  • Write down your objective. 

What is it that you want to achieve? It could be as simple as increasing visitors to your website by 20 per cent, persuade people to choose your product or service, or to encourage your stakeholders to provide feedback on a project.

(For complex projects such as reducing the risks of objections during the exhibition of a development proposal Mara recommends seeking professional advice and assistance.)

  • Develop key messages.

Key messages are just phrases to clearly articulate your story to an audience. Clear - simple - memorable.

  • What’s the hook?

The hook is just the thing that will get people interested in what you are saying. Think biggest, best, first, quirky, fear, emotion, hot button issue, exclusives, pictures, human stories, relatable, concise information, humour.

  • Identify communication channels.

There are many types of channels that you can use to get your message out.  Social media, media releases, letters to the editor, paid advertising, interviews with tv/radio/newspapers, opinion pieces, electronic newsletters, website updates are all options that you could use but not all of them will work effectively for your story. Focusing your attention and resources on where you will get best results is key.

  • A picture tells a thousand words.

People relate to images or pictures, particularly in social media posts.  Followers are more likely to click on a post if it contains an image, particularly photos that are relevant.

  • Write content and customise for each medium.

Each communication channel has a different audience, make sure what you are saying is appropriate for those stakeholders.

So, there you have it, a look at a simple strategy to promote a story. For professional advice or help with an up-coming project contact Mara for a coffee and a chatabout how we can help.