In my first post, ďWhat? No Clients!Ē, I described the client relationships that exist in the corporate public relations practice. Above and beyond that essential client relationship, the corporate practice involves a great deal of relationship building with colleagues, internal partners, and other service providers in the organization to create efficiencies and streamline workflow. New corporate practitioners are often surprised at the amount of time spent and work done outside of our department that is dedicated to skillfully navigating the internal relationship-building process.
In fact, relationships throughout the corporate world are the tapestry to success.†The corporate PR practitioner sometimes may need to synch up a clientís agenda with the companyís strategic priorities. To help navigate this complex and delicate process, trusted relationships across the enterprise with colleagues and executives in client organizations, creative services, legal, compliance, government relations, and other areas are critical.† They are the backbone to a PR practitionerís ability to deliver quality output and to help with her agenda when needed, especially when needed fast. Who couldnít use this kind of boost?
So here are three tips to help corporate PR practitioners build essential relationships.
- †††† Demonstrate that you have othersí backs to strengthen that tapestry.†Email an article of interest.†Provide a heads up when information surfaces that may be of value. Go out of your way to do a helpful task for your internal client or stakeholder.†But donít make a big deal of itÖ just do it and trust that the boomerang will circle back when you need it.†Perhaps the vice president in human resources with whom youíve shared articles and contacts will complete the requested rush review of your company diversity and inclusion recognition announcement on time, or maybe earlier.
- †††† Carefully watch for tears in the tapestry.†Thatís what separates the pros from the beginners.†Time-stretched practitioners may be tempted to send brusque emails or fail to nurture the relationships, even when they arenít needed. We all can fall prey to the need to produce, but keeping watch and recognizing when a relationship needs some attention, or worse, has been inadvertently damaged, and then taking steps to repair it, helps to guarantee that it will be strong and enduring when you need it to be.
- †††† Donít neglect to build a relationship with someone in the organization because you think he or she cannot provide the services that you may need. Be sure to understand the difference between position and influence. The executive vice president (EVP) may hold the position as a major thread in the tapestry (and the corresponding influence), but his or her executive assistant has a great deal of influence over whom and what the EVP pays attention to, the backing to the tapestry who holds the whole thing together. That influence is often extended to the EVPís direct reports as well.
Relationship building is always a good practice in any professional setting, but in the corporate PR practice, it could mean the difference between being a star or an average performer. And, as an added bonus, you often are in the unique position of being able to connect colleagues who donít know how to accomplish a task with the right person for the job, further helping to cement those necessary relationships.