In recent years, it feels like public relations, community relations, social media have become a bit blurred. In fact I see that some organizations still tend to group these various “communications strategies” in different silos of their organization. Some choose to place public relations in a corporate affairs group, some pull it into overall marketing and communications. I’ve also seen public relations largely “out sourced” and more of a “crisis management” call when needed. I like keeping communications leadership and strategy inside where they are close and “on the ready” when needed. Living the culture and knowing the people is an essential part of effective responsiveness.

Frankly my perspective and stance on the matter is that public relations (which I would suggest included PR, social media, corporate reputation and community outreach) is a critical role that should have high profile and some influence within and organization. They need to be in the “know” to have the greatest benefit for your business.

In a world where the news is instantaneous and on “twitter” within seconds, organizations need to be nimble, responsive and open to engage in conversations quickly on line and in the media to manage the impact to reputation. The old days of calling back the reporter, assessing their context, asking them when their story would run, completing a fact check, digging in on the “real intent of the story”, offering the “key message” have long since passed us by. However, the principles and protocols of that procedures are now accelerated to unfold in minutes. Thus, the role of the public relations or communications individual or department within the corporate or business structure is critical.

Would you turn that “twenty something” over to the business reporter calling in from the Globe and Mail or National Post ? I think I know your answer. So…let’s make sure that your business in paying real attention to how well equipped and ready that “twenty something” is to respond to the conversations that will unfold in the social media channels. It sill requires a trained professional communicator that understands public relations and has the total backing of the c-suite to ensure that reputation of the business (small, medium or large) is protected.

Further…for public relations and communications folks…you must take the stand for your position and role. Playing the victim role of “they call me too late, I’m called in at the 11th hour, they leave it too late” are all excuses that your could have challenged and changed. Educate the leaders in your organization about the “new media”. Help them to prepare for the possible conversations that could unfold in social channels. Like you would have prepared for various situations that might happen in the business, you can prepare potential responses so that they are ready when you need to respond within seconds to a conversations in social media channels.

Cheers to conversations and being part of them – it takes listening and a state of preparedness to respond. Public Relations – essential on your team. @FergDevins