When business leaders talk, I listen

Mar 26, 2007

I had no idea what to expect or what type of issues they were individually faced with. It turned out to be a fascinating example of the diverse range and depth of situations and issues that companies experience that require managing by their public relations teams.

My article this month comprises a précis of the key and most common issues faced by these particular businesses and many others:

‘We have to differentiate our business and our services from that of another organisation
with a similar name.’
This problem applied to more than one business represented and was relevant to both their external audiences for example customers, prospects, influencers and internal audiences – in other words, staff and consultants.

Extra time, effort and resource are being spent in dealing with the issue so the campaign must be very targeted with key messages being delivered to the right audiences.

‘How best and most effectively can we communicate with hundreds of staff, working in different locations, at different hours, many of whom are volunteers working from home
without e-mail access?’
Effective internal communications is a challenge for all businesses with similar staffing structures.

It is essential to put in place a comprehensive communications programme using a range of delivery vehicles that ensures all employees and representatives are aware of and understand company values and developments as well as having a platform to be heard.

‘As a charity, how do we engage with the business community?’
The problem faced by all charities, particularly those not considered ‘sexy’ i.e. working for children or animals, is how to access the corporate charity purse already in great demand.

Networking with the business community and speaking at events to personally deliver your message is a good place to start.

When approaching a company for sponsorship, being prepared by creating or tailoring the sponsorship opportunity demonstrating the benefits to that company, will reap dividends.

‘How do we deal with the change in perception of our business following the departure of the company’s figurehead?’
If an individual becomes seen as ‘the company’, his or her departure can result in a perception that the company has also ceased trading.

Changes in leadership can also cause loss of staff resulting in low moral among the remaining staff, confusion and uncertainty about their own and the company’s future.

A hard-hitting awareness campaign, ongoing networking, media relations and a strong internal communications programme are needed to deal with these issues that could have serious consequences.

‘We are relocating our company to Milton Keynes but are having a real problem in
persuading some of our staff to work here.’
Having reached the decision to close its regional offices and consolidate into Milton Keynes, this company now faces the crucial task of encouraging its valued staff to work here.

This is a problem that faces many businesses, not just new ones moving in and it also applies to other towns in the country that suffer from a negative perception.

The image of Milton Keynes has improved greatly but there is still a big public relations job to do in changing the negative perception for good.

For more information, visit www.jardine-michelson.com

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