Back after a long break! from a MA in PR to a job in PR

I am very sorry for my absence. This blog was created because of one of my modules during my course in the University of Westminster (MA in Public Relations). I have been working on my dissertation during three hard months. I handed in it last August and then got an offer for a job.

After my first month in my new company (in Spain) I have come back to my blog again, and hope to share my first professional steps with all my readers.

I am working in a legal services company in South Spain, very near Gibraltar. We like to describe ourselves as a friendly help for foreign people (mainly English speaking people) who need legal services in Spain.

I am in charge of Corporate Communications and all the employees have some responsibility on Client Care. I will keep you up to date from this new and amazing view.

Thanks to you all!

 

PS. By the way, I got a good mark on my Dissertation. I will write about it as well, since it is a good document to share.

Help your staff to become your best advocates

This is a paragraph of the book ‘Organisations don’t tweet… People do’, by Euan Semple which I highly recommend while I find time to write a new own post:

‘Listen first. Really listen. Listen to the good and the bad, no matter who is saying it or where they are saying it. This is the first time you have had the possibility to get this close to customers and prospects. Do your own listening. Don’t outsource it and read bland reports.

Require all the staff and managers to learn how to find and listen to conversations about your products or services online. Get them to listen to what is being said and share it with everyone else in the company who is interested. Help them to connect to the people they are listening to. Help your staff to become your best advocates.Give them the tools and the insights to become yous ambassadors online. Treat the relationships that emerge with respect. Don’t consign them to a faceless database. Try to maintain the connection despite personnel and industry changes. Do whatever you can to keep the conversation going at an appropriate level with everyone who has trusted you enough to open up a conversation with you’.

Page 147.

what are the employees’ needs in Internal Communication?

employee cartoon

Internal Communications is often evaluated from the perspective of managers, but not so often from the perspective of the employees. Researchs and tools about it are focused on processes and content; however, it seems that nobody cares about the employee communication real needs.

Employees are the most valuable stakeholders from a strategic point of view. Their ‘organisational Identification’ contributes value to the company since identification brings along with performance. Employee responses to organisational policies, practices and structures affect their potential to experience engagement. For example,  The higher the level of organisational identity of sales managers, the greater the sales quota achievement.

On the other hand, a lack of organisational identification is associated with increased stress and burn out, withdrawall and sickness.

Managerss shoul pay more attention to ‘internal corporate communication’, designed to promote commitment to the organisation, a sense of belonging to it, awareness of its changing environment ans understanding of its evolving aims. Once organisational engagement is achieved, the goal is aimed.

What would employees like their organisations to communicate? They would like to hear about organisational commitment, job performance, personal job-related matters, organisational decision making, complaint voice, superiors’ evaluation,… They also would like to feel that their work counts. To sum up, four areas should be covered by corporate internal communications: job, personal, operational and strategic issues.

To engage the employees, organisations should

-provide opportunities to feed employee views upwards.

-make them feel well informed about what is happening in the organisation

– provide them evidence to think that their manager is commited to the organisation.

They are no so dificult to achieve, the only thing needed is an accurate internal communication strategy.

 

CRISIS COMMUNICATION: A MATTER OF ANTICIPATING

TESCO has come to the fore with a new crisis about horse meat. The company has managed properly the first one, and we as future PR practitioners are quite interested on analysing this second case.
The South-African Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorious hired a PR practitioner after having shot his girlfriend in the bathroom (accidentally?) some days ago.
A crisis can become a disaster if it is not properly managed: Some people know it and others do not.
A recent webinar about Crisis Management by the CIPR offered an interesting description about it.
Silent brings concern. When a company faces a crisis the consequences might affect the stakeholders, the share prices, the organisation´s reputation…, and it is necessary to react. The benefits of this are protected and enhanced reputation; incidents well managed (provide information, give solutions to affected people).

Crisis must be taken seriously. The best advices are 1) to anticipate it; 2) to prepare it; 3) to train people in the organisation.


PREPARE. A PR person should be something like the conscience in an organisation: to provide warning systems or to make risk audits to detect potential risks.
Do not forget that risks can easily evolve into crisis. How will you communicate with your stakeholders? Who are they in your specific company? And first of all: be transparent, be clear and offer the public a voice and the means to answer all their concerns.
How can you PREPARE potential crisis states? You should have an updated contact list with internal and external publics. Keep the information about the company updated; and count -if possible- on film coverage. Think that your website will be the face of the company, and make it clear both for internal and external stakeholders. Change your front page to let people you know and control what is happening. And do not forget to keep the board involved.
TRAIN for crisis times. Do is at least once a year. List what could damage your organisation and think if you have the right people (and it also means available people: in crisis time, there is not work timetable). Think also about lawyers (they perceive the crisis in a different way, and you should talk to them in a different language). After the exercise, you should evaluate it and get the feedback.
We have talked about the anticipation and preparation of a crisis. When things are properly anticipated, their management is easier and the managers do not suffer a crisis themselves.
We will talk about when the crisis actually happens in next post.

Mum, I want to be a Public Relations

When I decided to join this MA in Public Relations I did not ask to anyone about it; I just did it.
There are many different (and not always prestigious) visions about this professional practice. It depends on its evolution along the years, on the countries, the structure and the role of the PR practitioner within the organisation, etc.

During the last five decades, the PR profession has evolved towards a better concept.
It is good to have a look to the past to learn for the future: now the role of the public relations is becoming a business strength, moving from a subordinated department to a leadership position on the board.

In 1970, Public Relations concept was defined by the “cynicals” in the United States as “boozes, bribes and blondes”. No comments needed.
Later on, during the 1980s, Marketing departments assumed PR as a part of the famous 4 P on Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Promotion, Place. These concepts were based on the producer-oriented model company. The Public Relations practitioner had to report to the Press Officer, and the Press Officer reported to Marketing Director. His/her main objective or function in the company is to get `publicity´, getting media coverage without paying.
In the nineties, companies moved from mass-marketing to niche-marketing, becoming more consumer-oriented. Due to the development of a aggressive financial press, chiefs and general directors in the companies established the role of the DIRCOM (Director of Communications) to protect or improve their reputation. The function of the DIRCOMs as public relations practitioners got broader than before. It consisted of `protecting´(so to speak) chief executives from the media (mainly from the financial media, quite reinforced on the 90s), and to protect the company itself as well. The DIRCOM reported to the chief executives instead of to other departments.
During this new century the number of groups of interest around an organisation have grown considerably and now companies need to dialogue with all of them and face their demands. The atmosphere around a company changes quickly and the companies need to get adapted to it: sustainability, environmental demands, social responsibility, ethics … are accomplished in long term.
Progressively, the initial confrontation with those lobbying groups and the companies became a dialogue with them, a bidirectional dialogue aimed to be constructive and enlightening for both groups and companies.
Traditional economic and financial annual reports are now completed with environmental, sustainability and social briefings which pretend to show the compromise of the company with its environment or society.

The times when the organisation interacted with only one interlocutor -the client- suffered a radical transformation; social corporate responsibility starts to develop its roles. An organisation is now described as a “Business project”, not depending only on the client, but on a variety of groups of interest: it is the stage of the stakeholders.
And to deal with the stakeholders, the figure of the Public Relations practitioner becomes an indispensable role within the company. Its relevance is such that many scholars talk about a strategic management function related to it. It is the stage of the Chief Reputation Officer.

THE NEW RULES FOR MARKETING AND PR

English icon   The best seller “New rules for Marketing and PR” published by David Meerman Scott (3rd edition 2012, New Jersey) describes how PR and Marketing should manage Social Media. The Social Media factor is revolutionising busibla blaness management. Depending on the vision that companies have about this new phenomenon, they adapt their strategic management with greater or lesser success.

This author provides an interesting description of the wide range of digital elements, completely useful both for beginners and experts in Public Relations. But let us take a critical look at the content, from the point of view of PR practitioners.

Many different theories about proper online-media management have proliferated since the development of Social Media: some of them consider the Net basically as a new channel to reach more public; others perceive the Net as a new chance to provide and distribute specific content; many others still don’t trust the digital option concerning businesses.

Social Media has broken the audience into a lot of sectors. This is one of the main Meerman´s premises. But his business strategy consists of presenting content about his company in each of the available digital platforms.

But Social Media audience is not the same as analogical audience. To be honest we should not be talking about “audience” when referring to Social Media, because it constrains reality: digital audience is, at the same time, an interlocutor in the communication process; it is not more a one-way communication phenomenon.

This characteristic has transformed the way the audience behaves and the role of business and organisational communication, and this point is not accurately considered by Meerman.

Digital users are a very empowered interlocutors: they know well what they are on the Internet for. They have tools to spread their own messages. To communicate with them is not enough. Simple feed-back is not enough. We need to share their conversations, and that is not Meerman´s view. He says: “Content drives action (…). When a buyer is searching your product category by using a search engine, does it really matter if the first exposure is a hit on your website, or a news release your organization sent or a magazine article, or a post on your blog? I´d argue that it doesn´t matter“.

I would say “it actually matters”. We will see why in next post.

Spanish_Icon  LAS NUEVAS REGLAS PARA MARKETING Y RELACIONES PÚBLICAS

El “best-seller” “Nuevas reglas para Marketing y Relaciones Públicas” publicado por David Meerman Scott (3ª edición 2012, New Jersey) describe cómo RRPP y Marketing deberían dirigir el uso de Social Media. El factor Social Media está revolucionando la gerencia empresarial. Dependiendo de la visión que las empresas tengan sobre este nuevo fenómeno, adaptarán su dirección estratégica con mayor o menor éxito.

Este autor ofrece una descripción interesante sobre la amplia gama de elementos digitales, completamente útil tanto para novatos como para expertos en RRP. Pero echémosle un vistazo crítico al contenido, desde el punto de vista de un profesional de las Relaciones Públicas.

Desde el desarrollo de Social Media han proliferado muchas teorías sobre el apropiado manejo de los medios online: algunas consideran la Red básicamente como un nuevo canal para alcanzar mayor público; otras perciben la Red como una nueva oportunidad de proveer y distribuir contenido; otras todavía no confían en la opción digital en lo que a negocios se refiere.

Los Social Media han dividido la audiencia en un montón de sectores. Ésta es una de las principales premisas de Meerman. Pero para él,  la estrategia de negocio consiste en hacer presente contenido sobre su empresa en cada una de las plataformas digitales disponibles.bla bla

Pero no es lo mismo la audiencia en Social Media que la audiencia “analógica”. Para ser exactos, no deberíamos hablar de “audiencia” cuando nos referimos a Social Media, porque eso constriñe la realidad: la audiencia de medios digitales es, al mismo tiempo, un interlocutor en el proceso de comunicación; ya no se trata más de un fenómeno de comunicación unilateral.

Esta característica ha transformado el modo en que la audiencia se comporta y el rol de la comunicación de negocios y organizaciones, y este punto no es considerado por Meerman con precisión.

Los usuarios digitales son unos interlocutores muy fortalecidos: saben muy bien para qué están en Internet. Tienen herramientas para propagar sus propios mensajes. Comunicar con ellos no es suficiente. El simple feed-back no es suficiente. Es necesario compartir sus conversaciones, y ése no es el punto de vista de Meerman. Él afirma: “El contenido conduce a la acción (…). Cuando un comprador está buscando tu tipo de producto a través de un motor de búsqueda, ¿importa realmente si la primera referencia es un resultado en tu website, o una nota de prensa que tu organización envió, o un artículo en una revista, o un post en tu blog? Yo me atrevería a decir que no importa”.

Yo diría que realmente importa. Veremos por qué en un próximo post.