April 27, 2022
Don’t Let The Great Resignation Derail Your Company’s Communications Strategy – Lean Into Your PR Firm
Employee turnover is a disruptive force that can quickly upend your communications department’s best-laid plans. This was true even in pre-pandemic times when it was normal for marketing and communications professionals to seek out new opportunities every two to five years.
But in the midst of the Great Resignation, the reality is even starker. According to a report from PwC, 65 percent of workers say they’re looking for a new job, and 88 percent of executives are noticing a higher level of turnover than usual. Chances are your team will be impacted, too.
You can’t afford to let employee departures slow your company’s momentum when it comes to marketing and communications, especially in this era of rampant noise. The last thing you want is for your executive team to experience a disruption in the normal level of service you provide or for your company’s brand to take a reputational hit.
Leaning on your external public relations firm just might be the best move you can make to keep your communication strategy moving forward in the midst of employee transitions. To that end, here are four things a strong PR partner can do to help you weather the offboarding/onboarding process.
1. Handle the Day-to-Day Details of Your Communications Program
As you’re well aware, communications departments juggle myriad details every day. Press releases, media outreach, internal comms, website updates, award submissions, media mentions, etc. — there’s always something in the works. And when the people who typically handle these tasks depart from your company, one of two things will happen.
You’ll get bogged down by the “tyranny of the urgent” and neglect the big picture communication needs of the business. Or you’ll focus on high-level strategy while the day-to-day details fall through the cracks. Neither situation is tenable.
As a communications leader, it’s crucial that you attend to the strategic business needs of your company.
So, delegating the day-to-day tasks to a PR partner frees you up to do the work only you can do. We saw this play out recently when a client’s entire comms team turned over at the same time. Greentarget stepped in and kept every plate spinning until the new team was in place and up to speed. Meanwhile, we kept the CMO unencumbered so she could continue moving the marketing and business development strategy forward at the executive level.
2. Retain and Impart Your Company’s Historical Knowledge
Every time an employee leaves, they take institutional knowledge and memory with them. And no matter how competent and skilled your new hires are, they simply don’t know what they don’t know. It will take them a minimum of 90 days to get the lay of the land and begin executing those tasks their predecessor left behind. But in truth it can take much longer than that to figure out the nuances of your particular culture.
That’s time you don’t have. When working with executives,reporters, and other important stakeholders in your business, your company needs your team to communicate effectively on its behalf — with no gaffes or missteps along the way — from day one. And to navigate industry and office dynamics without a hitch, your new hires need access to the written and unwritten information about your company.
Preserving this valuable institutional knowledge is one of the most important reasons to consider developing a long standing relationship with a trusted PR partner. A PR firm makes it their business to know who your key players are, which clients require special consideration, and what types of sensitive situations you’ve handled in the past, among other things.
To that end, your PR firm can help your team understand:
- Your company’s historic impact on (and current standing in) your industry
- Sensitive information about your company and/or its client base
- Brand standards and messaging guidelines to ensure every press release, media brief, and internal memo reads consistent
- Approval processes and conflict-check procedures that should be followed before releasing any external communication
- Company preferences regarding certain media outlets or particular reporters
- Ongoing sensitive situations, litigation, deals, or other important announcements that might garner media attention
Without insight into the inner workings of your company, your new employees will feel like they’re operating in the dark. Give them a head start and set them up for success by being intentional about imparting institutional knowledge from the outset.
3. Bring Fresh Perspective and Expertise to Your Comms Strategy
Although you want to win the war for talent and avoid employee turnover whenever possible, it’s important to remember that every change is ultimately an opportunity to grow.
Yes, your departing employees undoubtedly contributed valuable skills and insight to your program. But perhaps they also became complacent in certain areas or were resistant to new ideas. That’s normal. Sometimes the only way to move your program forward is to tap into an external perspective that can help you identify the gaps you can’t see on your own.
For example, your PR firm might:
- Help you expand your roster of spokespeople to showcase more diverse perspectives or up-and-coming leaders
- Spotlight your company’s work in new industries or innovative service offerings
- Offer media training to your executive leaders to help them prepare for high-profile interviews
- Suggest a new approach to annual happenings like signature events or financial reporting
- Head up a salient market research project to establish your company’s authority and intelligence in a particular area
- Launch a content audit to determine what is resonating with your key audiences and where it might be time to interject novelty, utility, urgency, and relevance.
- Assist in developing a more consistent owned media program to underscore your company’s expertise in your industry
The lesson here is this. Employee turnover doesn’t have to halt your momentum. Don’t put initiatives on hold or abandon them altogether while you focus on hiring. Rely on your PR partner’s expertise to advance and evolve your organization’s communications capabilities.
4. Counsel Your New Comms Team Through Crisis Situations
Communicating effectively in times of crisis is always challenging. It’s even more difficult when you don’t have a trusted PR partner to help you navigate internal and external communication needs. If you’re experiencing turnover while also handling a sensitive PR situation, you need an ally in your corner.
This is particularly true if you’ve recently hired a new leader to take up the mantle of your company’s crisis communications strategy. They will need support to help them manage the situation skillfully, and consistently with how the company has handled similar situations in the past.
Greentarget has helped several new PR leaders onboard while facing difficult scenarios at the very start of their tenure. Without a steady guiding hand and historical and cultural context, they may have struggled to effectively and efficiently devise the right strategic communications plan for the company at that time.
There are also two important relationship-building opportunities that may arise from times of crisis. First, this is a meaningful opportunity to lean on the PR firm to help your new, in-house communicators build relationships with key decision makers within the company. And second, with a good PR partner, navigating a crisis situation can set the stage for a strong and lasting partnership.
Communications Team Transitions are Inevitable. Are You Ready?
As a marketing and communications leader, there’s no escaping it. Your team will eventually face staffing transitions.
The good news is you can be ready. By viewing a PR firm as a steadfast partner, you can prepare for the likelihood of natural attrition, manage offboarding and onboarding smoothly, and level up your communication program’s effectiveness along the way.
Interested in learning more about the ways Greentarget can help your team succeed? We’d love to hear from you.