Posts tagged ‘In-House PR’

Crisis Communications: Not Just For the Big Guys

More than three-quarters of companies recently surveyed by one of the nation’s largest public relations firms say they expect to have a crisis within the next year, according to PRWeek.  More than half of them agree that the rise in digital communications and new media make a crisis more likely and more difficult to manage.

While the Burson-Marsteller study, as reported in PR Week (I’ve posted the brief article here), is talking about large companies, it’s an issue smaller companies should think about, too.  Digital media and social networking make it possible for even a sole proprietorship to play in the big guys’ sandbox. What small businesses often don’t realize is that if they play in that big-guy sandbox, they must accept some big-guy liabilities.

Because In-House Public Relations is new and small, I talk with a lot of small businesses. They’re thinking about increasing sales. Very few want to talk about crisis management. Increased sales activities, however, means increased exposure (I know: It’s a problem you’d love to have).  I’m aware that small business people don’t often have time or money for a full crisis plan, but I try to at least have a conversation about crises:

  1. Being a small business in today’s Internet-driven business climate means more people are seeing you. That means you’re more vulnerable. An angry customer or employee, an innocent mistake, a problem with materials you use and you’re in the soup.
  2. Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you’re any less vulnerable. The wrong tweet or Facebook posting can land you in hot water. And you probably don’t have the financial cushion big companies have to ride out a crisis.
  3. Take a few minutes and develop a mini-plan:
    1. Understand what a crisis is: Anything that can threaten your reputation and your business.
    2. Have a list of who gets called ASAP. I tell people to put me on the list, along with the lawyer, insurance agent and financial counselor.
    3. Set up a way of monitoring what’s being said about you on a daily basis in the social world. That can be as basic as a Google alert or as complicated as monitoring and participating in social media channels. Don’t neglect traditional channels either.
    4. Think about your worst nightmare and have a plan – at least in your head – of what you’d do if it happened.
    5. Make sure someone else knows about this miniplan in case YOU are the crisis.

 It’s not much, but at least it starts the discussion.

 I’d love to hear from entrepreneurs and small business people: Have you thought about crisis management? If you’d like some help thinking about it, call me.

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July 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

In-House PR is not just a blog anymore. It’s a full-service agency. May I help you?

I’ve been putting this off, but it’s time to make the big announcement: I’m hanging out my own shingle.

My new public relations firm will be called In-House Public Relations, and this blog will be my soap box. The firm, in fact, is named after the blog, which has been around for three years. It’s as good a reason for an agency’s name as any other.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh great. Just what we need: Another one-man PR shop.” I’ve said the same thing myself. But times have changed for me and for the business world. In addition, I bring something special the table: my energy, my outlook and my passion.

For more than 20 years, I’ve helped organizations large and small tell their stories, build their reputations and use strategic communications and engagement to meet their business goals. Being passionate about your reputation permeates an organization, influences the behavior of its employees and makes its stories compelling and credible. That, in turn, leads to business success.

In-House Public Relations will focus on real estate, homebuilding and related businesses, applying what I’ve learned over the past 11 years in that business. My sites also are set on clients in the public safety area, where I can combine my years of communications experience with my even-more years as a firefighter and paramedic. I’ve also worked in telecommunications, automotive, packaging and other areas. Naturally, I’m more than happy to work with any organization.

I moved from journalism to public relations to join the internal team that took AT&T through its historic break-up. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with and around people who bring uncompromising quality to the job, as well as a high sense of ethics. By quality, I mean a strategic view, attention to the client’s needs, effective and measurable tactics and a lot of energy to get it all done.  The network of top-notch professionals I’ve put together over the years and through my active involvement with the Public Relations Society of America will become my clients’ network.

Over the years, I’ve successfully used most of the tools in my box: sales support, media relations, crisis management, employee communications, government affairs, special events and social networking. I have the insight and experience of a guy who’s been around the block once or twice and the technical skills to understand the latest social media trends. What’s equally important is I see how they all work together strategically.

So why head out on my own now? I believe the current economy is creating new opportunities. In-House Public Relations is an example of that new economy, and is taking advantage of the opportunities it has created.

As large companies shed staff in response to the economic downturn, those people used their expertise to set up smaller companies. While they might not be able to do things on the scale of their former employers, their smaller scale, lower overhead and more nimble structure enables them to do things their former employers couldn’t do. The Fortune-750 national homebuilder I worked for over the past decade has spun off at least two new homebuilders, a floor-covering store, home-design consultants, sales coaches and others…and now a public relations firm. These new, smaller companies also need public relations counsel, just as they need financial and legal counsel. A firm like mine can use its network to take care of a large national or regional organization’s needs, and we welcome that opportunity. But we have more flexibility and lower overhead, enabling us take care of these new companies’ needs, as well.

I’ve spent most of the past 20-odd years as a client. That is, I was the in-house public relations counsel for different organizations. I know what clients need. I know how I liked being treated. And now I’ve got the opportunity to meet that high bar for my clients.

And now, a demonstration of my new entrepreneurial technique: Give me a call. Let me be your in-house public relations counselor.  At least wish me good luck.

May 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm


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