While 2020 created more than its fair share of challenges (to put it mildly) for PR and communications professionals, it also created the enormous opportunity for them to “grab a seat at the table.” Across industries, executives exhibited an unprecedented reliance on communications teams for not only time-sensitive, relevant communications, but strategic advice and direction as well. Results from the 2020 Comms Report, where 85% of PR pros say the C-suite is relying on them more for counsel, reflect this trend.
“The biggest lesson I learned in 2020 was that, in the midst of crisis, our leaders are really relying [on communications professionals] to step up and lead, and be that strategic advisor…that we really can be,” said Scott Thornburg, global public relations lead for digital marketing platform Sojern, in the recent webinar Creating an Adaptable Communications Strategy for 2021.
But it shouldn’t just be during times of crisis that communications professionals are handed the mic; it should be year-round, during good times and not-so-good times. If ever there’s an opportunity for PR and communications professionals to prove it, it’s now.
So you’ve gotten a seat at the table…
Use the guidance below to keep it warm in 2021 and beyond:
- Work your way backward: Understanding the C-suite’s business goals is a critical first step. For instance, is there a big push for global expansion, new revenue streams, product innovation, brand awareness or something else? Once you’ve identified these business priorities, go back and plan your PR strategy (or repurpose your existing one) to ensure your objectives align with the C-suite’s.
- Show them the metrics: Be able to draw a clear line between your PR strategy and its impact on business goals. This shows that you’re thinking strategically about the business and helps stakeholders understand the larger value of what you’re doing. An understanding of earned media management and the right measurement tools can help prove the ROI of your efforts and prepare you for productive conversations with the C-suite.
- Think outside the business: Keep a pulse on the rest of the industry, so you can offer extra insight and valuable guidance. See what your competitors are doing and keep an eye on consumer habits. Look at economic projections that could have a meaningful impact on the business. Share your findings with the executive team and show how you’re using them to inform a strategic PR plan that ties back to the business. These actions will help you build trust and credibility in the eyes of leadership, furthering your status as a strategic business partner and establishing yourself as an indispensable resource.
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About Mary Lorenz
Mary Lorenz is Editorial Director at Cision and writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.