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Why Central New York Needs More Professional Communicators

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Alice Maggiore
Alice Maggiore

Why Central New York Needs More Professional Communicators

You’re listening to the Strategic Minute, brought to you by WRVO Public Media. I’m Alice Maggiore, Director of Public Relations at Strategic Communications, LLC in Syracuse.

Communicator. Connector. Celebrator. Counsel. Brand Manager. Liaison. Promoter. Influencer. Storyteller. Spokesperson. Strategizer. Translator. Voice of reason.

When you hear the words “public relations,” what – and who – do you think of?

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines PR as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and their publics.”

Think about that list again, and how those roles apply to your company. PR is about building and maintaining relationships, so certainly a PR practitioner is a good communicator and connector. But, effective PR professionals hold many more titles. As the bridge between all functions in our workplaces, PR pros fill all those roles. And yet, there aren’t enough of us to meet the needs of all of the organizations in Central New York.

In 20 years of providing trusted public relations counsel, we see two themes:

· Either a business knows it needs professional communicators but can’t find them;

· Or, the business doesn’t understand the value of having communications support and stunts its own growth.

To the first point, many organizations are struggling to fill essential communications roles. Luckily, that’s shifting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be more than 25-thousand openings for public relations specialists each year in the next few years, as seasoned communicators reach retirement age, and others make career changes.

But, with remote work, businesses are competing for talent on a new playing field. Skilled communicators have more options than ever as PR can be done virtually worldwide.

From time to time, our clients and business colleagues ask if we know anyone who might be interested in PR positions at their companies. Although we’re well connected and can make several recommendations, we often find that we’re sharing the same names with multiple organizations because there’s a smaller pool of PR talent in C-N-Y.

This shortage will be felt more because of “the Micron Effect,” which is holding a magnifying glass to new opportunities for Central New York. New companies moving into our community need clear messaging to appeal to neighbors here. At the same time, established businesses need to let people know that they’re still here.

With so many stories to tell, who will pick up the pen or start typing?

On par with national data, it’s encouraging that we’re seeing PRSA membership grow locally in our Central New York Chapter too, indicating new interest in PR. With elements like social media, PR appeals to a new generation. Plus, more businesses realize the impact of community outreach and consumer relations to elevate visibility and build reputation.

This connects back to the second theme we’ve observed, when businesses don’t see the value of communications support. When it’s time to look at budgets, dollars dedicated to PR, advertising, and marketing are often the first to go. But typically, it’s when business is down that PR becomes more critical than ever.

PR is strategy-based, organized, and intentional. Whether a workplace is trying to create new programing, solve problems, or appeal to public interest… applying the foundational pieces of PR – research, planning, implementation, and evaluation – will help it succeed. Having your PR team in lockstep with decision makers makes your brand and image stronger.

Too many organizations are conditioned to only consult PR experts when they’re navigating a crisis or looking for a reputation reset. But, by bringing in a PR team earlier – or better yet, by having it from the beginning – a business increases its chances of achieving goals. Then, if an issue unexpectedly pops up, there’s already a strategy set to meet the challenge.

So, how do we recruit more talent? Well, collectively as a business community, we need to do some of our own PR.

The first step is to consider what makes your company attractive. Is it in a desirable location, is it offering exciting enrichment programs, or flexible work schedules? By identifying what appeals to current employees, you’ll attract new talent to make your business “sing.” Literally. With buy-in, employees become loyal, built-in ambassadors.

To help determine which stories are interesting, think about what you tend to naturally bring up in conversation. Ask yourself: What makes you excited? What tugs on your heartstrings? And when you talk about where you work, what gets the most reaction from others?

· Stories that connect to emotions are always impactful.

· People also find value in learning information that helps make their lives easier, and they appreciate warnings about potential challenges. That’s why stories that propose solutions and have wide community impact are usually homeruns too.

If you’re not sure where to start, or don’t have the resources to do this initial PR on your own, turning to a PR agency can be a helpful starting point. Agencies help you identify what type of PR support your organization needs, and then they develop a strategic public relations plan for your company… to be executed by your team, their team, or a combination of both.

While the shortage of PR professionals is reaching a tipping point, there’s good news here too: The organizations in our region have great stories to tell.

Thanks for listening to the Strategic Minute, brought to you by WRVO Public Media. If you want to learn more about what we do at Strategic Communications, visit stratcomllc.com