With the ailing economy and tighter corporate budgets, public relations is often the first department to feel the pinch. Public relations departments are often forced to scale back their efforts, or continue existing efforts with reduced staff. The following tips will help small public relations departments weather tough times–and enjoy prosperous ones, as well.
First, prioritize your projects: what’s the hottest thing on your plate? Since a small public relations department is likely spinning several plates at once, this is perhaps easier said than done. If upper management has a pet project, that will likely take top priority. Otherwise, ask yourself questions like:
Which projects are deadline-driven? If you’re trying to make a publication close date, for example, then move that project to the top of your list.
What projects are dependent upon others? Before you distribute a news release, your media list must be current. Think in terms of a natural sequence to help prioritize yourself.
What projects directly impact the company’s business objectives? These should go toward the very top of your list. Many supervisors want measurable results, and while public relations measurement is an inexact science at best, small public relations departments should try to show some direct correlation between your projects and the company’s overall goals.
You’ve heard the statement think globally, act locally. The same can be said for small public relations departments. So you want to be on the front page of the New York Times? You’ve got to start somewhere; the best place is often your local media. Local media is always looking for stories with a local angle. If you can provide it, you’ve got a good chance of garnering publicity for your business.
Some local angles small public relations departments can exploit:
— A devoted customer service employee
— A satisfied customer from your area
— A corporate community service project
— An executive who serves on an advisory board
— Partnerships with other local businesses
Next, target regional media, then state media, then national media, and so on. The fact that your business is mentioned in other publications should be looked at as a positive, not a negative. Media coverage lends a certain third-party legitimacy to your company and its news.
Learn to delegate. One advantage of running a small public relations department is the extraordinary amount of control you possess. The flip side, however, is that you tend to do it all yourself. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Need to prepare a media mailing with a small public relations staff? Hire a college intern. You’ll free up your own time for more urgent matter, while the intern receives invaluable hands-on experience (and often college credit). You save a little extra money; the intern makes a little extra money. Many college PR programs require students to complete internships prior to graduation. Contact the public relations departments or PRSSA (Public Relations Students Society of America) chapters at area colleges to find out more.
Finally, remember: Size doesn’t matter. Whether your department has a dozen public relations professionals or you’re a one-person-show, you can accomplish your goals. The key for small public relations departments is to set realistic goals, realistic timetables, and expect realistic results.
This article, written by Darcy Silvers, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.