40 Days and 40 Nights: the original PR strategy review?

Lent is upon us. For the Christian calendar it marks a time of reflection, penance and a preparation for Easter. For the more secular among us it marks a six week journey beginning in the indulgence of pancakes, a period of internal angst when we come to terms with the fact that giving up wine was an exercise in futility and culminating in an undignified chocolate binge.

Suffice it to say that this is not the true meaning of Lent. Religiously, Lent is supposed to reflect the time Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights ahead of telling the world his message (hence giving something up for Lent), but etymologically the word Lent derives from the Old English Lentcen which means ‘spring season’.

Spring is definitely in the air, the days are longer, tulips and daffodils are appearing and the instinct to do a bit of a clear-out is genetically wired into us.

From a PR perspective this means asking such questions as: is the current PR activity supporting current business goals?  Does the current messaging truly reflect the business today and its vision for the future? Are we reaching the right audiences?

A brand and its perception is a company’s most precious commodity. How it is portrayed in the public domain is crucial to business success and it must therefore be taken care of and actively managed.

But in the era of fake news and white noise as well as the genuine competition for credible media attention being clear, concise and deliberate with messaging has never been more critical. Here are four things business leaders should consider when determining their corporate PR strategy that will bring a solid return on investment.

  • State your objectives – many businesses decide they want some publicity but don’t really know why. A properly thought-out PR strategy is designed to support your business goals. Before starting on the PR path, think about what business goal it will support.
  • Agree the message – it is common that sometimes drastically different answers are given when the top five executives of a business in a room and ask them what the company stands for. On the whole there is usually not a wrong answer among them, however from a public relations perspective it is important to agree upon exactly what you want to say to the outside world so that a cohesive image is portrayed.
  • Drive the conversation forward –to stay in business today you have to work hard to carve out your slice of the market place and continually develop strategies for how to maintain and increase that share. To do this, most businesses will have a wealth of data and information that helps them form opinions on the industry. This opinion and the data behind it (de-sensitised as necessary, of course) can be powerful collateral to generate positive media coverage that demonstrates your expertise to key audiences.
  • Be consistent – PR is often seen as a business function to engage with during the big moments in a company’s life. This approach can be a false economy, creating a stop-start relationship with the media and failing to communicate any consistent, repetitive narrative to your stakeholders.

Developing an ongoing public relations strategy that maintains your visibility and consistent messaging will generate much greater reputational benefits that will ultimately help fuel the success of your business.

Written by Matthew Pears, Associate Director

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