Many managers have come to view public relations as nothing more than a vehicle for corporate propaganda, but a properly administered public relations program is very effective. For example, members of the Association of New York City Concrete Producers have benefited greatly by prioritizing a good public image. In a nutshell, public relations is about establishing two-way communication between you and your publics.
A manager or owner of a concrete plant communicates with many different publics every day: employees, owners or partners, customers, suppliers, regulatory agencies, inspection labs, and engineers. You intuitively segment your publics and communicate differently with all of them so they understand your message.
Four areas in our industry are particularly relevant in public relations.
- Public affairs includes government and community relations. We need to learn, or hire someone who knows, the way government agencies work. It also helps to understand how the legislative process works because changes in local, state, or federal laws can help or hurt your business. When it comes to community relations, producers must proactively improve their image before disputes materialize. Keep in touch with local groups on a regular basis, particularly if you think operational changes might affect them.
- Industry relations includes not only your colleagues but your suppliers, related industries, and professional organizations. It helps to join your local trade associations and chambers of commerce. And collaborate with other professional organizations on matters of mutual interest.
- Lobbying is a highly specialized area that requires expertise in the legislative or regulatory processes. For example, your lobbyist would influence legislators to vote against a bill by informing them of the negative impact on your business. This requires your association to hire an experienced specialist.
- Media relations means establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your local news outlets. Be proactive. Send local reporters a press kit about your company to help the local news staff learn more about you and your contributions to the community. In addition, advertising is not only an excellent way to boost business but also a great way to build your image through controlled placements.
How do you design and implement a public relations plan to communicate with your key publics? You can start with a simple survey. Another way to get some answers is to interview some of your customers or colleagues. After you have done your research, you should be able to identify the key publics that require the most attention. You'll also find out just how tough a challenge you face.