Public relations has never been an easy job to handle. What’s worse, the internet and social media have made the role increasingly challenging in terms of getting the right story to the right people.
In 2020 alone, PR executives got a taste of crisis management with the myriad of crisis communications challenges that rocked the industry. No one could’ve predicted the challenges the year presented amidst all the uncertainty.
PR professionals have had to readjust many times while still working hard to prove the value of their work.
Here, we take a look at the most crucial issues that PR executives face—and what they mean for the industry.
Creating effective, timely communications
As with every other industry, one of the biggest challenges is to create effective, timely communications especially in a crisis.
For instance, in 2020, many organizations in states that reported some of the first cases of COVID-19 in the US found themselves at the center of many media conversations.
Such organizations faced the challenge of driving effective messaging that would keep their workers safe. Plus, they had to figure out how to communicate thought leadership during the most unprecedented crisis the world has experienced in the last century.
Access to high quality intelligence
Data and insights help business leaders make daily decisions. For PR executives, client strategies, media pitches and other decisions require high quality intelligence.
The main challenge lies in identifying where the intelligence is located and distilling it down, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Anticipating new concerns
PR executives are tasked with seeing around the corner for business ideas and potential crises, which can be challenging if you’re not sure what lies ahead. At every turn, they’re faced with new concerns that dominate the news, social media and public mindshare.
For instance, the global pandemic disrupted most, if not all sectors of emerging and developed economies, bringing with it risks and opportunities.
PR executives who were able to see around the corner and take action were able to bring value to their organizations in the face of uncertainty.
Managing expectations to key stakeholders
Laying out realistic expectations to key stakeholders such as your company’s leadership team and management is necessary but difficult to do. They all want potential news coverage for potential business stories to help spread the word about new innovations, breakthroughs, profits and other growth-related news.
However, the media may not always be able to cover every good or bad story. Sometimes reporters are stretched too thin or reassigned to properly cover every trending story, meaning not every breaking story will make headlines.
Mastering the art of the pivot
Often, PR executives find themselves forced to re-adjust many times as they work towards proving their value in the organization in uncertain times. Generally, many such professionals found themselves having to evolve and innovate rapidly to keep up with the dynamic needs of their clients.
Navigating messaging for campaigns and launches
In 2020, there were a host of things happening around the world, especially in the US with the presidential campaigns, Black Lives Matter, and the global pandemic. All these events came with different challenges for PR professionals.
One of the main challenges the executives experienced when navigating messaging for their company product campaigns and launches was communicating to customers with varying views. However, these hurdles are expected especially when it comes to taking stances and speaking out about uncomfortable and thorny issues.
Showing the relevance of communication
PR executives have to be able to show that communication is relevant or not deactivate once the company overcomes the acute phase of a crisis.
The perception around PR and communication is that it’s designed only for moments of crisis and not during normal times when everything is running well. What most management teams forget is that good and constant management of communication shields the company against events that would otherwise affect its normal functioning.
Surges in media inquiries
During a crisis, there’s always an expected surge in media inquiries over what happened and how it’s impacting the business. There are also perceptions about some types of businesses that may be difficult to demystify for reporters.
Media may also focus on the morbid and lurid details of the crisis rather than the positive responses or outcomes, which brings unimaginable challenges for PR executives.
While challenges are a given for any company or organization, staying flexible in the midst of it is harder to do. Once there’s a crisis, PR executives are forced to change, adjust and continue to adapt and roll with the changes all year round as they face crises and news stories at every turn.
Get on top of things
PR executives struggle to get everything done in the right way every day, and it’s a normal part of the job. By using the right channels and tools to structure and communicate their efforts, learning from best practices and cooperating with colleagues, it’s possible to tackle any challenge.
Take some time to review your workflows and see where you can make improvements, adjust, prepare or delegate to your teammates to ensure that you’re on top of things, wisely.