Sometimes, it feels like Public Relations (PR) is the odd person out at a family reunion. She’s definitely related to everyone else there, but she’s not really taken under the wing of any one nuclear family. This is how it is at many organizations; PR may loosely be considered part of marketing, but she’s kind of tucked away in her own corner of the office and left to her own devices. Of course, other companies may not even have a PR department in-house and may choose to work with an external agency instead. Or, they may work best with a combination of one or two internal PR folks who have support from an outside firm.
No matter how the actual department and its workflows are structured, though, these truths remain: PR’s insights are important and she thrives with collaboration. So whether you think of your PR, marketing and sales teams as one big happy family already or you’ve been treating PR like an awkward third-cousin-half-removed for years, there are two things you must do to set her (and therefore you) up for success.
- Recognize her strengths.
Your PR team likely understands marketing quite well, but has its own discrete areas of expertise. These areas of specialty usually include some combination of media relations, content writing, awards, speaking submissions and so forth. It’s obvious you’d go to PR if you need a press release written, but where things get a little hairy is in the gray areas. For example, what about messaging? Web copy? Social media?
More often than not, PR gets overlooked in some of these areas because the lines between them and marketing are admittedly a bit blurred. Let’s say you’re rolling out a new product, so you have your product marketing team come up with a messaging document for the company to use when talking about this product. Great! But, did your product marketing team also come up with the web copy and social posts, completely in their own little silo?
Depending on your particular PR team, they may be really skilled with writing social posts that are geared toward journalists or incorporating broader, but key company messaging points into the web copy. PR should be in the same room as marketing when these sorts of decisions are made, and at the very least be able to offer her perspective.
- Make strategy your driver.
PR, marketing and sales should all be following the same overarching business strategy – period, full stop. Yet all too often, each department has its own idea of what approach to follow. This can and will create very disjointed efforts, and end up annoying, if not alienating, the customer.
For example, let’s say your executives decided to follow an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. Well, maybe they discussed this with marketing, but did they also loop in PR and sales? All of their tactics should stem from the same strategy. Sales needs to be aware they will be following up with fewer leads, but having more focused and high-touch interactions with them so they can amend their email copy and calling cadence accordingly. Better yet, they need to be in the room with marketing as the ABM strategy is discussed and mapped out.
And while there isn’t a field of PR actually called ABM PR (yet…), your PR team will certainly need to make adjustments to their own tactics if they know you’re pursuing such a strategy. For instance, PR will need to create content and customize communications based around your target accounts. All three departments, and your entire organization, must be aligned around strategy if any of them will be effective.
Gone are the days that PR has to feel like a third wheel, tagging along at a distance to marketing and sales. She’s powerful, and she has really important strengths to contribute to the team. Now’s the time for her to shine, alongside – and in alignment with – sales and marketing. It’s actually essential for everyone’s success.