All we know about 2012 is that we don’t know anything. This is the feeling left by reading mainstream media headlines at the turning point of the year. On the Czech market, the prevailing atmosphere is a mix of confusion and pragmatic optimism. Company managers already know that hectic cost cuts don’t lead anywhere, and many have started to redirect budgets towards enforcing sales, customer care and business development. In this context, efficient image management has never been more important.
What does it mean – efficiency in communication and PR? It means getting the most out of the resources available and trying to achieve outstanding results so that more resources get redirected towards your activities in the future. Where should you start in assessing whether your company communicates efficiently? Here are a few hints:
- Communication plan. Do you have a written communication plan for 2012? Is it perfectly aligned with your business plan? Does it include a clear vision of your communication goals and a strategy to achieve those goals? Are your market positioning, key messages, communication channels and people in charge crystal clear?
- Self-reflection and appraisal. What communication mistakes have you made in 2011 and why? What can you do to avoid those mistakes? What resources could you have spent better in order to communicate more efficiently last year (various memberships, event organization etc.)?
- Measurement. Did you have clear, measurable communication goals at the beginning of 2011? To what extent have you reached them? What are your measurable goals for 2012?
- Human elements. Are all people in your company fully engaged in communication? Are they aware of the importance of communication? Are you sure you’re not wasting valuable employee know-how that could help you communicate better with your public?
- Training. Is your staff ready to communicate? Do you have clear rules for public communication that apply to everyone? Are your message carriers – from the PR manager to the CEO and to the receptionist – aligned with the company vision and well-trained so that they can efficiently support your communication efforts?
- Leverage. Are you leveraging enough on your communication efforts? Do you maximize the impact of your communication – like getting a large interview in a key economic magazine, then sharing it with your customers – or is there still room for improvement?
In order to answer the question of how to communicate efficiently, I use the term “lean PR.” Lean PR means going back to the basics and aligning your business vision with your corporate communication strategy. It also means analyzing the past to learn from your mistakes and allowing a fresh third-eye view to your way of doing things in an attempt to discover new opportunities. Above all, lean PR means taking time for yourself to understand why you do what you do in the field of PR and communication, and how you can do it better. If there is a word that leads the PR industry in 2012, it is efficiency. Lean PR is here to answer that challenge.
PR trends you can’t afford to overlook
As efficiency is opening the way to successful communication in 2012, here are a few trends that will leave an impact on the Czech market in 2012.
- PR gains in strategic importance. Hand in hand with sales, business development, marketing and advertising, public relations can and do enhance a company’s efforts to retain its position on the market and grow. This is why we can expect that PR will continue to gain in understanding and recognition from the part of Czech managers, and that more and more competent PR people will join the decision-making boards of local companies.
- PR people professionalize. While in PR agencies the struggle to transform junior press-release senders into strategic communication advisors has already started, a deeper professionalization will reach in-house communication departments as well. We can expect higher pressure on results and tougher recruitment criteria for in-house PR staff.
- PR means more than media relations. More and more corporate managers and communication advisors start to understand that, in order to advise a company strategically, it is necessary to include all its publics and stakeholders in the communication scheme. This includes the online and social media publics, which will ultimately lead to a savvier use of digital and social communication tools on the Czech market.
- PR budget fights. As the number of communication channels continues to increase, and outcome measurement tools remain feeble, we can expect a tougher fight for communication budgets. PR specialists will continue to ask for a bigger piece of the cake that currently goes to marketing and advertising.
- PR role mix. As publics become more and more fragmented and corporate communication starts to rely more on common sense – one powerful, transparent and genuine message for everybody – the PR role will be mixed more and more with the marketing, social media and business development roles. The outcome? A complex communication specialist who must be on tiptoes all the time in order to react fast to technological developments and shifts in public communication patterns, and who will ask for more and more strategic decision-making power. It is important to see how schools and professional associations will react to this new need on the market.
Regardless of confusion and economic uncertainties, the year 2012 promises fundamental changes on the Czech communication market. Let’s welcome them with an open mind and heart.
About the Author (Author Profile)Cristina Muntean is a journalist and media adviser with more than 12 years’ experience in the Czech, Romanian and international media. Between 2005–10 Cristina worked for the English-language economic magazine Czech Business Weekly (CBW) in Prague. During this time she wrote more than 3,000 news articles, features and interviews. Cristina graduated in journalism from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She also holds a master’s degree in project management. Currently, Cristina provides media training, coaching and advisory to managers, communication specialists and public officials across Central and Eastern Europe. Cristina speaks Romanian, French, English and Czech and can be reached at email@example.com.
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