PR often means different things to different people. Traditionally, organisations have viewed PR as something that only needs to be managed in response to a crisis. While PR is undeniably essential when things go wrong, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about it when the crisis is over.
At See Media, we know that for many organisations in the housing sector, when things are going well, PR is often put on the back burner in favour of other priorities. However, proactive PR should be a core focus for organisations that want to generate positive attention from your stakeholders, including customers and the media.
Proactive PR enables organisations to take an offensive and opportunistic approach, giving communications teams the chance to position their organisation as a thought leader in the sector, by conveying their own messages and directing the conversation.
So, how do you go about being more PRoactive?
To implement an effective and proactive PR campaign, housing providers should begin by strategically setting out their communications objectives, which must be aligned with their organisational objectives. They should then create a plan that specifies the points in the year where it is essential for their organisation to communicate. This should include any planned events such as scheme openings and awards, as well as any upcoming wider policy changes that will impact the organisation.
The key is to identify opportunities that will allow your organisation to discuss topics that are important to its target audience. By looking ahead, organisations can identify an audience early and establish the most effective ways to reach them.
This diligent planning should include details about the tone and positioning of the voice in which the organisation will speak to the target audience, the channels that will be used to communicate and specific dates when it will be essential to address certain audiences.
For example, the National Housing Federation’s ‘Starts at Home’ campaign was a good opportunity for housing providers to promote their supported housing services to vulnerable people, by sharing their stories on the campaign website.
Organisations like See Media client Stonewater used the campaign as an opportunity to raise awareness of their specialist supported housing offering, sharing stories from residents and support workers from a variety of schemes to publish on its website and promote through social media. Other organisations used the campaign to raise money for supporting charities, and one residential home even arranged a local MP visit.
In addition to proactively sourcing opportunities, communications teams must ensure they have compiled a number of key messages for their organisation. Key messages build the foundation of any good PR strategy and are the main points of information that an organisation should want their audience to hear, understand and remember.
When putting this messaging together it’s important to keep them as simple snippets of information that articulate what you do, why you do it, how you are different, and what value you bring to customers and other stakeholders.
By having key messages clearly outlined, organisations can proactively plan responses to indirect news and discussions that could impact the organisation in real-time. For those working in the housing sector, the political sphere is one area that presents various and sometimes unexpected opportunities for their organisations to comment on – such as the fast-tracked Spending Review (4 September 2019).
While the Chancellor did not mention housing in his list of funding priorities on the lead up to the review, whatever the outcome, there would no doubt be scope for organisations in the sector to react and share their opinions. However, without key messaging reactive statements can take longer to produce and to receive approval for, which often results in organisations missing out on having their say.
Need PRoactive support?
Despite the highly advantageous opportunities that proactive PR can bring to an organisation, it’s surprising how many housing organisations are still taking this one-sided approach.
If you need support on revising your organisations current PR strategy, then contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be more than happy to have a chat and see what support we can provide. Also, for more hints and tips to enhance your communications sign-up to receive our monthly newsletter.