I’ve often been asked by overworked professionals how they can take advantage of the public relations opportunities that they feel are consistently passing them by. The answer is proactive planning. The planning process itself will take time and a good deal of work, but once you have a system in place, you will be set up to capture those PR opportunities as they arise.
The first step is to understand your own communications capabilities. What tools do you have in place? Which tools do you need and which ones can you effectively manage? Once you know what tools you have at your disposal or have the potential to have at your disposal, you need to set up a routine for how you use them. For example, (1) post to social media every day; (2) send a press release once a month; (3) send a newsletter once a month; (4) send a constant contact message once a week and so on. You also need to have point people that are responsible for each of these tools as well as back ups to these people so that if your social media person is sick or going on a vacation, you still have activity.
You need to pick the right people to put out your message. Anyone issuing any message on behalf of your non-profit or business is acting as your ambassador to the public. That person must know who you are as an organization and what you stand for inside and out. On the flip side, the person must also be given the authority to speak so that they can respond immediately when asked questions, allowing your constituency to feel as though you are responsive.
Being proactive also means that everyone in your organization needs to start thinking about what they do every day in terms of who would want to know about it and why. Every staffer is working on something of value and interest to someone! Put protocols in place so that your staff knows how to get information about what they are doing to the people responsible for communicating. You may be thinking – there are only 3 of us, we don’t need protocols for that. If you are, stop and try to list every last thing that the other people in your office are working on right now. Chances are you cannot do it because business happens constantly and each of you has your own responsibilities. Protocols keep things from falling through the cracks!
Even if you aren’t doing formal weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly planning for your non-profit or business, chances are that you are doing it informally at staff meeting and in hallways. Attempt to formalize that and incorporate communications into that planning process. Making messaging a part of your conversation regarding any issue you handle from the beginning will help you get the word out in time and keep on top of publicity opportunities.