I recently had someone tell me that public relations was inauthentic. Their core argument was that “putting on a different face” for every audience is phony and fraudulent. I agree with the sentiment, but the crux of our disagreement was rooted in their misunderstanding of ethical public relations. A strong PR plan has varied messages, means of delivery and timing for each audience, but the core tenants of what you’re saying stay the same. That’s not phony – it’s a wise allocation of your time and a demonstration of your organization’s commitment to audience-driven communication.
Today, organizations have a strong hold on delivering aligned, but customized, messages to varied public audiences. Most trip up in aligning internal messages to staff and stakeholders with their public-facing language. Maybe it’s because of a false sense of familiarity among the people closest to the business, or it’s a desire to be “transparent” when a more guarded approach is appropriate. Regardless, you need to thoughtfully align your internal messaging and distribution timing with your external outputs. Here are a few reasons why.
Everything internal is external.
Emails are forwarded nearly instantly. Calls are recorded and published to Reddit. Corporate Zoom meetings are screen-grabbed and sent to NBC within moments. The big takeaway – anything you distribute internally can be shared externally. Even with confidentiality agreements in place and trust in your community, you need to operate as if anything you say internally will make it to the public sphere.
You can see how this is critically important in a crisis. But even when something good is on the horizon, it’s important to remain aligned. Say you’re launching a major brand partnership, one that is going to shake your industry and make front-page news. You need to align your internal announcement with your external launch, or you could risk messages intended for your team hitting the press before you release your public-focused language.
Consistency begets understanding.
Repeating the same messages across channels helps reinforce key details. If your organization expects a new CEO in three weeks, say that across channels. Saying, “in the coming weeks” to the public and “in three or so weeks” to your internal people can breed confusion – even if you feel like those statements say essentially the same thing. Moral of the story: Repeat your key messages consistently and verbatim across channels. While that may feel repetitive as a writer, know that your audiences will appreciate the clarity.
Authority stems from clarity.
When someone knows what they’re doing and sticks by their messages, it’s easier to trust them. When your public-facing email statement matches the internal announcement video, people in each of your audiences are more likely to believe you. You can strengthen your brand’s authority by being clear and consistent in all of your communication outputs, even if you don’t intend for every audience to see every piece. When messages align, you appear honest, forthright and authoritative.
Need help aligning your next announcement? The team at Obsidian can help. Email insight@obsidianpr to connect today. But if you need help now… you’re in luck! Here are a few tips to set you on the right path.
Tips to help align language:
- Outline your key messages first. Those stay the same across channels. The accompanying language and timing will be different based on the audience.
- Make a distribution timeline. Prioritize your top stakeholders first and then deliver down the line. Don’t leave too much time between drops – or you risk your earlier messages leaking to other audiences.
- Forget the fluff. If you have something important to say, eliminate the bonus content and stick to the key details. There are times to expound and times to be clear.
- Remember the latent channels. Your website, social media bios and printed materials are updated much less frequently and can create confusion if they don’t match new messages. Include updates to those materials as part of your plan if your output requires them.