There is much to be said for the phrase ‘strength in numbers’.
Whether you need to team up with other external organisations to handle a crisis or actively promote some form of partnership project, it’s good to develop ways to engage with partners effectively.
But working alongside another team can create unique challenges when it comes to how PR and Comms professionals manage media interest. Each side needs to agree on key messages and also align on which team shares what.
It's essential that each team is clear on what the expectations are from their own organisation and that of their partners. We have seen many examples in situations like these where teams duplicate messaging or even contradict one another. In other cases each side has assumed the other is taking charge of the comms for the project with the result being a vacuum of information.
Why work with a partner?
If you are a PR or comms professional there are lots of examples where you might need to work with others:
- Local authorities for example, increasingly need to find ways to work with partner agencies to help deliver services.
- Universities may want to approach another organisation to conduct research in their workplace or identify doctoral or other academic opportunities for students.
- A private sector company might be in the process of merging with another company.
Whatever the scenario, there will be a need to communicate effectively, and manage your respective organisation’s reputations.
And whether it is working with a police force following a crime affecting your company or signing up to an environmentally friendly pledge with another firm, it is critical to ensure that any communications are ‘joined up’.
This means identifying at the very outset who leads communications activity at the other organisation or organisations, and meeting with them at the earliest possible opportunity to get to know them and to draw up a joint communications strategy.
This strategy will need to include identifying the relevant internal and external audiences, the most effective means of reaching these audiences and agreeing a timeline for action. For example, what social media channels will you use and why? Who needs to be available for interviews or a media photocall?
It is also important to determine who is going to be responsible for each piece of communication to ensure messages do not end up becoming diluted and confused.