The surprising hidden business benefits of PR

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Since making the switch from journalism to public relations, I’ve made a few surprising discoveries about how storytelling and PR provide business benefits beyond what you might expect.

One top revelation is that an effective PR program can help a business better understand itself.

PR enables business leaders to frame their expertise in ways that are consumable, persuasive and relevant; the stories that arise from this work help create order and meaning. They link an organization’s purpose to bigger trends playing out in the world, explain how the business works and can help executives reflect on its role in their industry. Here are three of the hidden business benefits of PR:

Rediscover brand strengths

I find that when experts talk about what they love, they often see the business from a new angle, uncover hidden brand strengths or pull out parts of their story that reinforce their vision. Similarly, conversations with executives to develop thought leadership stories extract deep knowledge and insight—sometimes we get insights they didn’t know they had.

Align the message with goals and vision

A technology or product update may steer you in a new direction, but if what you’re saying doesn’t reflect your new focus, all that great work will remain a secret between you and your employees. PR forces organizations to align their story and message with their current reality by asking tough questions: Who are you, really, and where are you going?

Manage risk

Crisis communications is much more than delivering the right responses to a catastrophe. It’s a risk-management necessity. Among other things, developing a crisis plan can shine a light on weak links in communication within your company. And it gives you a solid chain of command and process to triage the problem when something goes wrong.

One of the most surprising things to me is how working with a PR team shakes executives out of their business boxes. In embarking on the journey of communicating with the media and the public, company leaders start to view their business from a different perspective—and it’s a vantage point that can spur new ideas and help them see new opportunities.