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Public relations: How corporate culture determines PR success

By Lenox Mhlanga
People often talk about a company’s culture yet it is not always considered in the bigger context of a public relations strategy.

Several years ago, a financial backer and I, formed Sunshine Corporate Communications, a boutique agency that assist businesses by telling their story and build their image. One of the first things that we did in those nascent days of forming the consultancy was to set up internal processes to ensure that we delivered on our promise.

We realised early on that company culture can enhance the effectiveness of reliable service to the client, whether it be content creation, or among others, media relations or crisis management.

What is a corporate culture? It’s the way employees work together, interact and relate to their environment. It’s one cornerstone of any business, and it’s one thing that can make or break a company. Considering this, every business should give serious thought to what its corporate culture is.

We can define culture as the values and beliefs which are shared within an organization and act as a guide to behaviour and decision making. Culture is dynamic and many internal and external factors such as demographics, leadership, competitors, economy and industry trends can influence it. In short, all things that impact strategy and execution.

A healthy corporate culture is fundamental to the success of any company. We perceive it as an indicator of the quality of a company’s products and services, the viability of its business model, and its integrity.

A company’s culture affects its ability to stay relevant in an industry. It also has a direct effect on the effectiveness of its public relations (PR) programmes.

In public relations, getting an article published in a top media outlet is every practitioner’s dream. However, it is important to understand that this type of publicity cannot happen without the internal structures and teamwork.

Media houses often receive thousands of press releases every day and even if your story is great, it can be lost in the noise. The most crucial part of your PR campaign is building strong relationships with the writers and editors.

Most businesses are working in a high-pressure environment with tight deadlines. When receiving information from an outside source, such as the media, many business leaders find themselves in a situation of having to take someone else’s word for it.

The key to that is building a good company culture. Here are some tips for helping you build and maintain a healthy corporate culture that will support your public relations effort.

Create a shared vision: Define your company’s vision and values clearly. Make sure they represent your company’s personality and culture. If it sounds like a lot of work, think about how much time you invest in recruiting the right talent, ensuring you align them with your mission and brand values. Treat your employees like you would treat our customers.

Transparency: Companies that have embraced a corporate culture of transparency and have open communication lines with their stakeholders are far more likely to avoid crises and manage them quickly if they occur.

A good corporate culture is one of the best assets a well-run public relations department can have.

Trust: One of the key elements of a good culture (or corporate culture) is a company’s trust level. Every company is unique and has unique goals, but one thing is for certain. The success of your PR efforts depends on how people in your organisation relate to each other.

Trust is essential in the era of artificial intelligence and the prevalence of algorithms. It is the reason people continue to seek the advice of human experts, even when Google or Alexa might do the same thing.

For many people, the key to trust is the consistency of values — a corporate commitment to doing what it says it is going to do. Trust makes your company more palatable, more believable, and more credible.

The relationship between consumer and brand is complex and dynamic. However, there are certain cultural elements within the organisation that contribute to consumer trust. A good culture has senior management who delegate responsibilities to the right people and empower them to implement corporate policies. It ensures systems and processes are in place to make sure that the business can deliver on its promises.

The relationship between consumer and brand is complex and dynamic. A good culture has senior management who delegate responsibilities to the right people and empower them to implement corporate policies. It ensures systems and processes are in place to make sure that the business can deliver on its promises.

Corporate culture is an important factor to ensure the success of PR programmes. A lot of corporate image is based on how customers, employees, and partners feel about your company. Corporate culture determines how the organisation and PR specifically operate in relation to its internal and external influences.

In the cut-throat world of communications, there’s one element that can make or break your PR programmes: culture.

The most effective public relations depends on a team of people who understand and align with your business objectives and values. The people involved have to be ‘on brand’ and corporate culture acts as a major determinant of whether this is achievable.

  • Lenox Mhlanga is a consultant communication specialist and you can contact him at: lenoxmhlanga@gmail.com and on mobile: +263 772 400 656

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