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Excellent communication between an external, or outsourced, public relations firm and a company’s internal communications department is a must. From understanding the style and tone of the company to outlining goals, it’s important to be detailed with expectations and open and flexible to change. Because the LSU Bateman Team worked for a national client, communication with the company representative was a challenge in itself. The primary tool for communicating was through email, which is not nearly as effective as face-to-face communication when hammering out details about messages and tone of voice.

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Bateman Team member Elise Bernardemails client representative

When beginning a public relations campaign for a client, public relations practitioners need to understand the goals the company hopes to achieve through the campaign. The company should not only be able to share whether they aim to garner awareness or change attitudes/behaviors through a campaign, but it should also be open to tweaking goals upon discussing them with the public relations agents. Sometimes clients have goals that may be unachievable based on the current position of the company, and public relations practitioners should be able to help the company understand the best possible goals for the campaign.

On the other hand, both the external public relations team and the internal communications departments also should understand how to evaluate the success of the campaign. Both need to be clear in whether they will use social media analytics or the number of media placements to gauge success, just two of many evaluation tactics. If not clearly communicated, one party may see the campaign as a success while the other may see it as a failure simply because of a miscommunication about evaluation tools.

We struggled with communicating with our client due to the lack of face-to-face communication. Email threads grew longer and longer, and oftentimes, information would be construed and misunderstood in written text. We quickly learned that there is a huge advantage to serving local clients and that our correspondence with our client needed to be meticulous in order to make up for this disadvantage.

Another important aspect for the internal communications department to discuss when outsourcing to a firm is the style and tone of the company. Does the company have a business-like tone or a more fun and friendly tone? Being able to specify exactly how messages should be conveyed requires extensive detail and patience, and public relations practitioners should be able to ask the right questions and do the required research to understand the company’s style.

One of the most important messages for public relations specialists to convey to clients is the importance of tone and responsiveness on social media. Social media has become such a crucial component of public relations, as it allows the company a more direct and open communication with its clients. Personalized and helpful messages on social media lead to better relationships with clients and consumers.

While messaging between company or organization and audience is important, communication between the external public relations team and the internal communications department is even more important. Without a clear understanding of the client’s voice and their goals, public relations practitioners cannot effectively communicate with the client’s audience(s), which is, of course, what public relations is all about.

Post written by: Elise Bernard, Mass Communication: Public Relations, senior at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication

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