A business plan is the most basic and crucial of prerequisites for any business. Even the most informal of businesses starts with a plan even though it may be an undocumented concept. Traditionally, the business plan covers the long and short term goals, the target market, the required resources among other elements. Sadly though, many CEOs and business planners blunder by leaving out an important element when planning- public relations. Because public relations form the foundation for much of what the business does, it should be included in the planning stages.
A brand’s PR strategy is designed to create and maintain a brand personality- encompassing the core values, principles and ethos of the brand. This is what guides the marketing plan, the communications policies and actions involved in the daily running of the business. Another way to put it is to say that PR is the glue that holds the brand together. And of course a stable brand personality that resonates well with the target market is often synonymous with the proverbial ‘Midas Touch’ as it secures the brand’s success.
Business Launch and PR
No CEO or entrepreneur wants to launch a business and watch it flounder. They want the market to know about the brand and be enticed by it. In other words, they want a powerful and positive brand presence from the outset. They want to see growth in sales, which is something that a powerful brand presence triggers.
That powerful brand presence is established and maintained through PR. The business launch itself is most effectively executed through a carefully planned PR event. In fact, the launch itself sets the tone for the brand’s future PR as it tells the public what to expect. Essentially, the business will rely heavily on PR in those critical early stages that begin with the launch. A successful launch can position the business well and set it on a trajectory for success while an unsuccessful one, well, it could spell failure or disaster.
In the conceptualizing stages, business planners and CEOs contemplate the image or personality that they want for their brand. Whether they realize it or not, this sets the tone for all PR strategies that the brand will employ in the future (unless some adjustments in vision are made). In light of this, PR needs to be included in the initial planning stages.
PR and the Conceptualizing of Business Elements
Many of the factors that are traditionally included in business planning are linked to PR and in some cases the link is so great that they are inseparable. Business elements that focus on communication, for example, have strong links with PR. When business planners explore elements such as marketing and advertising, they are in fact, also determining the direction of their PR. In fact, starting off with a solid PR foundation makes the planning of these other elements far simpler.
Personnel recruitment is another business element that will be impacted by (and have an impact on) and therefore should be guided by the PR strategy. The staff recruited should be the right fit for the brand. To determine if they are the right fit, the overarching elements that guide PR should guide recruitment. These include the brand’s vision, mission and personality. Recruitment should be planned strategically to ensure that the staff hired, especially those who engage the public (sales agents and customer service agents for example) reflect the brand’s PR approach.
Without a doubt, PR belongs in the foundation stages of business planning and it should remain at the forefront of additional strategy and planning sessions that happen after the business has been established. Failure to ensure this could lead to costly setbacks.
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