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Strategic Communications in PR
By G. A. Volb

Folks, I'm going to fill you in on a little secret -- STRATCOMM (strategic communications) is and has always been a product of your Public Relations/Public Affairs efforts ... or should be.

It's the principle reason your organization has an internal PR/PA division, to ensure communications objectives are met. Generally speaking they exist to educate and influence target audience opinion so as to garner positive support for products, policies, "name brand" recognition, and credibility.

If your PR/PA division is not delivering "Strategic Messages" within its communications programs and products, then it is failing miserably.

Your program is also doomed to fail if senior organization leadership do not see the value in: 1) investing in professional resources needed to produce the products worthy of dissemination; and 2) bringing in high-end multi-media, PR/PA professionals to get the job done. If either is true, then you're simply producing product for the sake of producing product. You have lost the war before the first battle has taken place.

There are several key factors to a successful PR/PA program:

1) Professional product development: It is simply essential that that which you distribute is seen as quality material by targeted audiences, to include media. Anything less will be seen as amateurish and die a quick death in the wastebasket or via "Delete" on the keyboard -- as will your message(s).

2) It's a must that these products are current and germane to the (focus here) target audience of the media you're using to re-market YOUR messages. It's not enough that you think your message(s) is important, there must be an angle for each of your distribution "vehicles" to play off on. Before you deluge in-boxes around the nation, ask yourself: "Why would they be interested in this?" If the answer is, "They wouldn't," then don't send it.

3) We live in a 24-hour news cycle: taking two days to answer queries, providing half-truths, or dismissing the concerns of media or members of the local community is a recipe for disaster. Credibility is the name of the game. Once you lose it, you may as well call it a day, fold up shop and start hitting the want ads.

4) Quality OVER Quantity: This happens to be my biggest concern and one I'll return to regularly. If you come from the era where front-end metrics means success, you need to wake up quick. Churning out numbers only marginalizes anything of value your office will put out and will surely result in the vast majority of your messaging outlets ignoring your submissions. In more succinct terms, two very well done pieces (whether video, print journalism or still imagery) will have more in the way of a positive effect than 100 half-baked products. The only metrics you should be interested in are those that express how many outlets picked up and re-marketed your products and messages -- that's the true measure of success. Say it with me: "Quality over quantity. Quality over quantity."

Set your shop up for success:

Hire a team of pros, give them the right tools to execute and then step back and let them do their thing. Do not fall into the trap of thinking the PR/PA profession can be easily executed as a secondary duty within your organization.


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