Often, I am asked about the importance of business communication and whether it enhances or hurts an organization.
Any communications specialist will tell you there are two key types of press: Good press and bad press. Pretty obvious, right? These two types of press can be reported in a few different ways – either by the company via press release or another controlled announcement forum or by discovery through a nosey reporter or vindictive employee.
If a company has actively participated in generating press releases, pitching stories to news outlets and also keeping employees up to speed on happenings, it is much easier to control the release of information whether good or bad. Uncontrolled communication is like a game of ‘telephone’ – the message changes every time it is repeated. But if you’re controlling the information flow, it is less likely to get messed up.
When a dialogue is established with journalists, reporters and the like, these news hounds are more likely to help you when and if unsavory news is discovered about your business. They are also more likely to help you get your message out.
While many things have changed, the need to build relationships with the newsmakers in your area has not. News – whether self-generated or events-based – is powerful and knowing the players is important.
I’m not talking about a sleazy, money-under-the-table type of deal. I am talking about a mutual respect where you’re available to chat and openly share your expertise should it be needed in a story or feature idea.
When my clients ask me the best way to approach releasing information about their company, I always tell them to start locally. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce. Find the local business news outlets and also search online for the newsletters and community sites that support local business.
Hire a blogger or a skilled writer to help get some of your important messages out to your customer base. Start building a community of strong information that you communicate and control.
Find ways to get your information out that doesn’t feel like advertising or marketing. Customers respond to this and you could establish a following that will turn into a loyal community of brand ambassadors.
If you find yourself in the midst of a press nightmare based on a discovery or report release you were hoping didn’t get out, do not ignore it. The best thing to do is to speak as openly and honestly as possible and stay away from defensive posturing. Use this bad situation to build a rapport with your community and industry so that if it happens next time you’ll have some allies.
Tip: One of the main reasons large corporations do so well is they put a stake in the ground in communities their offices are based. They go to outreach events, they help communities – they establish themselves as leaders.
I believe this is important for any company who wants to have a strong footprint in their home base community. Starting locally and growing globally is a winning plan – and communication is key.