be a good choice for reaching an older audience, while Instagram is more popular with
the younger generation. And Twitter is increasingly being used by the media.
Organizations that do choose to include
social media in their PR program should
be meticulous in their approach. They need
to make sure they have someone with good
spelling and grammar skills creating their
messages. Presenting well-written, accurate information is critical. “You’re creating
a persona for your company, if you will, so
you want to be real thoughtful about who is
behind your social media,” Thompson says.
Denali FCU incorporates a variety of so-
cial media channels, particularly Facebook,
to communicate with and provide help to its
members. Messages sent to the credit union’s
Facebook page are distributed to everyone in
the marketing department, which strives to
respond quickly—especially when members
have a problem or concern. That’s what hap-
pened when a customer sent Denali a Face-
book message about a critical issue involving
his credit card. “We were able to get his card
reactivated, so he could continue enjoying his
vacation,” Fernandez says.
Renfrew says social media engages and
builds relationships with customers through
real-time interaction—which is especially
helpful in a crisis situation. Social media is
also a great way to discover what a company’s
customers think, like, want, and need. “You
can really share your brand and allow your
customers to really get to know your organization and what you stand for,” Renfrew says.
Social media is also relatively inexpensive,
making it ideal for small businesses on a tight
budget. But a business shouldn’t use social
media if it’s not going to maintain a consistent presence. “You should not have an Instagram or Facebook page if you’re only going
to post once every two weeks,” Renfrew says.
The PR Process
From Renfrew’s perspective, PR is a broad
practice that encompasses a number of competency areas: trusted counsel to the leadership team and CEO of the organization;
internal communications; media relations;
community relations; external communications with customers, investors and other
stakeholders, events, issues management, crisis communications, and public/legislative.
When properly done, there’s a methodology and process to public relations, according
to Renfrew. She divides the PR process into
four key parts: research, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Often organizations want to jump right to the tactic, whether it’s building a new website or running an
ad campaign. But research first must be done
to determine the issue the organization is
trying to solve and what it wants to achieve.
That research, which can be qualitative or
quantitative, can encompass focus groups,
surveys, and other tools.
From there, planning can help organizations identify the appropriate strategies and
tactics to implement. Unfortunately, there’s
no one-size-fits-all plan for success when it
comes to PR. When the tactics are closely
tied to the company’s goals and business objectives, they are much more likely to generate positive results. “Strategic PR planning,
when done right, can be very effective in
helping an organization reaching their goals
and business objective,” Renfrew says.
Organizations often will invest money,
time, resources, and personnel into different
kinds of activities but don’t necessarily stop
to evaluate what worked, if they reached their
goals, and why. But the evaluation at the end
is a critical step, Renfrew says. It’s how they
can determine the effectiveness of their PR
However, if a PR campaign doesn’t “move
the needle of public opinion” or generate
awareness about a product, it doesn’t mean
it’s a failure. The evaluation can help the organization determine what worked and didn’t
work, and this information can be useful for
refining strategies and tactics in the future.
“You can’t be afraid of failure,” Renfrew says.
“What works for one organization may not
work for another.”
Importance of PR Maintenance
It’s essential for organizations to have an ongoing, proactive public relations program to ensure the success of their brand. Their brand—
the mental image that comes to mind when
someone talks about the organization—is their
most precious asset, Renfrew says. “A company
with a strong reputation and strong brand that
has built trust with its stakeholders is much
more likely to be successful in the long term,
especially in a crisis situation,” she says. @usibelli UsibelliCoalMine
Fueling Alaska’s economy since 1943 Fueling Alaska’s economy since 1943
Four generations of Usibelli families
have called the Healy area “home.” That’s why
Usibelli Coal Mine pioneered a successful land
reclamation and restoration program in 1970 --
long before it was required by law.