Nothing stays the same, and truth be told, it shouldn’t. For one thing, that would be an immensely boring song, but more importantly, things that stay the same grow stagnant and often wither and die. This holds true for companies as well. Companies need to evolve based on market changes, shifting priorities, technology advances, customer and partner engagement and hundreds of other possible factors that create both opportunities and challenges that crop up as it works through its market.
Some of these changes are organic as a company moves from product concept to delivery, from thought leadership to market leadership, from private to public. Some are forced by changes in marketing conditions or customer demands. It’s critical for PR to understand how these changes fit within the company’s long-term messaging and positioning and how they relate to the market as a whole.
Part of our job as PR professionals is to help our company and clients understand how to evolve messaging to support changes that a company might be undergoing. Our agency likes to work with our clients on strategies and programs that are based on where they want to be in 12 – 18 months, and then re-evaluate every quarter to ensure we accommodate any new changes. And something always changes.
Not all the changes will be huge or particularly important in isolation, but can possibly be used to articulate a broader story about your company, its milestones and ability to adapt to changing market environments. You will need to stay on top of what internal changes might be happening that can positively or negatively impact the PR program. This can be as simple as a new executive that can be established as an expert resource to the media, or the addition of a new vertical market that you need to help tap into.
This can be particularly challenging when the industry moves and your company takes a step in a direction that might be controversial in the short term, but is ultimately a critical part of its longer-term plan. Our job it to make sure we explain how it fits in the company’s strategy over time. The truth is, not everyone will understand or appreciate every move your company makes, even with the best of explanations. But it’s important to articulate how everything fits into the company’s overall vision so that whatever change takes place isn’t seen as an unconnected, isolated event or change.
My final point is what to do when a change is based on a negative event or situation. A CEO leaving, a product failure, a customer loss, etc., are all bad things that happen sometimes to really good companies. A lot of people will want to gloss over these events, and while you can certainly spin some aspects into a neutral, you shouldn’t try to convince anyone that these changes are something they are not. Doing this can severely damage your company’s reputation, and lead to problems when there is good news to share but your credibility has already been damaged.