New beginnings are full of mixed emotions. Fear, excitement and plenty of nerves go around on the first day of any new venture. Your first PR job is no different.
So I am writing this one for those fresh grads who have a passion to make their careers in PR and Corporate communication and have just gotten hired. I will tell you today how you can make the most of your first job in Corporate communication.
Let’s get to the basics first. What exactly is the difference between Corporate Communication and Public Relations?
Most people use these terms interchangeably. Make a mental note to never do that. Public Relations and Corporate communication are both specialized fields and quite different from each other.
They work together on the perception management of a company. Corporate communication started out as PR in early times and now extends over PR, advertising, marketing communication and government relations. That doesn’t mean PR has died — in fact far from it.
I would recommend — you google the difference between PR and Corporate Communication. I can tell you this much you will find out plenty of very interesting stuff about the differences on the web.
You will even come across phrases like ‘one group prepares lies, the other delivers them’ — or Communication: people think they are lying. PR: people know they are lying. Ignore these statements and move on.
However, make use of this information to know what perceptions you will be dealing with. After all you have just entered the business of perception. Information for you will always be an asset, here on.
Simply put — PR is the art of knowing, dealing and making relationships with ‘Publics’ to get your job done. Come to think of it, we all make use of PR in our lives. We build support systems, we ask favors, we deal with people. We give some. We get some. PR is all about your relationship management. As a PR pro, you build relationships with media, government, influencers and all kind of people in your industry.
Corporate communication on the other hand deals with messaging, the overall image and perception management of the organization through various means.
Internal communication, external communication, stakeholders management (through PR), content development and intellectual resource management of an organization are the main functions of a communication department.
Now, if we have not confused you more than you were five minutes back – let’s move on to what to do during the initial days of your brand new job in Corporate communication.
(I will assume here that your organization has at least a few hundred employees and the department is properly structured to take care of internal, external and PR functions).
Here are some handy tips for your journey in the world of Corporate communication.
Know the 80-20 rule
To be respected as a PR pro and a Corporate communication practitioner — you will need to develop some hard core skills and do it quickly. Start out with building relationships.
Spend most of your time getting to know your stakeholders. If you are in the communication department, there is no room for shyness and taking your time to gel in. If you are there, it is your responsibility to start working towards the company’s perception management and image building from day one.
Best way to do that is to first know what the image is, both internally and externally. So go around the floor, meet people and introduce yourself. Spend 20 percent of your time at your desk – to organize things, make notes and reply to emails.
Make a PR calendar
First of all, get your lists in one place. In most cases it will be a list of journalists and editors from different news organizations.
Spend some time to mark out the most important publications for your organization (ask for help from a senior).
Once you have the list ready, make a schedule to go see them. Call and request for an appointment. During the first interaction, introduce yourself. Remember and swear by this as a PR pro. Until you die, this person must receive a call from you at least once every week. This is part of your PR calendar.
Learn from the scriptures of the company
Usually the Corporate communication Department is good with keeping records.
Since they are the company’s corporate information database – they should have a bunch of documents that they can share with you. Take out the previously released press releases, articles written and other information that you can grab.
Ask for the material printed in the newspapers or the final drafts of Press Releases — in case of internal communication, an internal memo or email can do the trick. Go through these extensively.
Compare the draft prepared and the one printed in the newspaper. Find the link, make your own pointers on how it can be improved. This will help you learn how your organization’s messaging is prepared and what is the media’s expectation from your content.
Remember — if you cannot write, this is not the right place for you. The good news is, writing is a skill you can learn – if your basic language proficiency is good. Make editing and proofreading a duty you must never fail. This is a very important skill in Corporate communication.
Let the communication tools in the company lead the way
Every company utilizes a set of tools to communicate with their internal and external stakeholders.
These could be as simple as using an email or as modern as using corporate media. Learn about the tools available in your organization.
Organizations use magazines, newsletters, communication portal, emails, videos, town-halls, meetings, blogs and other communication tools to interact with internal audience.
They could be using press releases, conferences and events, online information dissemination services, videos, blogs or other tools to communicate with their external audience. Once you are aware of all the tools, find ways of using them more efficiently before you venture into bringing innovation into the department. And of course, if you have an idea to improve the process of communication, bring it to the table.
Nothing’s not your business
As a Corporate communication pro, you are basically responsible for all kind of communication happening in the organization. It may not be possible for all organizations to provide a culture that is open enough for the communication department to work at its optimum — but look at it this way, if it is being said in public, it is your job to make sure it’s said right.
Starting from employee meetings to notice boards right up to the CEO’s speech and award pitches, everything falls under your domain. Don’t be shy to spot an error, find a solution, prepare a suggestion and walk over to your boss and have it fixed.
The list of things you are responsible for as a communication pro is exhaustive.
There could be days when you would be walking around in the office or outside, meeting different people to get your job done. Other days you may be deeply immersed in content preparation that will just not end.
At times, you may not have the time to respond to a single email and may subject yourself to some pointy questions from your manager. But trust me, if you are working to improve the perception of your organization, every PR and communication effort counts.
The Corporate communication and PR functions are a few of those unlucky domains in the corporate world that cannot completely be measured and translated into numbers. But an efficient and proactive communication professional will always get things in place in the long run — provided he/she is committed to the profession.
As a communication professional, your job is not just to communicate on behalf of your company – but to make sure others are communicating effectively as well. Use these tips at your first job in Corporate communication and trust me when I say this, you will have laid the foundation for a great career.
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