Ah the public relations folks. They are the ones who get the name in the paper, the story balanced with the press, a brand launched with great fanfare and “ultimately”, the messaging out to the public. Sounds pretty easy peasy pickings doesn’t it !? Work out some messaging, pick a spokesperson – hello world.

From where I sit, and admittedly after many years in the corporate communications world, I see it as a little more complex than these few idle observations and statements.

I actually see “PR” as a valuable pillar in the overall marketing strategy, toward managing, building and maintaining corporate, brand or personal reputation. This “public relations” is all about how you or the brand or the company relates to the various publics. How are you seen by the various audiences ? How are you interpreted ? What is being said and felt by what you are putting out there representing your brand, business or self ? What is the “reality” that they are seeing about you. Remember the age old rule – perception is reality, don’t fool yourself into thinking that what you are putting out there is necessarily being interpreted in the context you desire.

If you are a CEO of a major company, a medium sized company or a small business I think that the situation is similar for when to call PR to the table.

In each and every situation, when to call PR to the table is answered in one word – EARLY.

Ok, you might think that when to call PR to the table is when the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan. You are right. And the earlier you call them to the table in that instance, the better for you then too.

In a broader context, I am referring to situations where you are designing or strategizing about something that will ultimately be seen by the public or press. The earlier you have your PR lead or team at the table, the more rewarding the outcome will be for you and your business. By having your PR team informed, engaged, thinking about the business plan – the more value that they will bring to your business. They are usually pretty good in a crisis, but they can be really powerful with advance planning.

In these times of instant news and citizen journalists having the power to “push a story”, it is even more critical for your communications team (Public Relations, Government Relations, Social Media, Employee Communications, Investor Relations, Industry Relations, Consumer Relations) to be plugged in to “what’s coming” from the company. The PR team is, in fact, your first contact when something goes viral or public. Your communications team effectively monitoring traditional networks and social channels will have a pulse for you, in the moment. They need to be prepared, planned and on the ready to respond professionally in the moment, or that proverbial brown stuff will hit the fan.

So, from this, I hope you you find two answers to the question of when to have PR at the table. In the first instance I answered it for you – EARLY. On a regular basis I would supplement that response with – ONGOING. You can ensure that those charged with the responsibility of managing your reputation and face and voice with the outside world are properly prepared to do their job.

By keeping them informed, engaged, briefed and allowing them to also challenge your strategic planning the simple approach is EARLY/ONGOING. Ongoing will ensure that the communications team is aware of potential risks and opportunities through a filter of communications. They are trained for it. Unleash their power – they will bring great return on your investment in them.

When to call PR to the table ? EARLY & ONGOING.

If I’ve sparked something for you here, feel free to call and we can chart further about where you are at and where you might be in your communications planning.

Cheers !  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork