In Tom Selby’s article, “Cost cutting sees Friends Life head of PR leave,” I was surprised to see that Friends Life, a company in the UK that offers financial products, insurance, and other services, decided to get rid of the head of their public relations department. The company is large, so I would assume they need someone to be in charge of their public relations plan and strategy. But I guess they thought having someone in house wasn’t worth the money, which makes me wonder how they’re going to maintain a consistent message while managing their reputation. The article says that they’re going to use an outside public relations firm and use some internal staff, but they won’t get another head of the department.
Going forward, they have to remember, and so does your company, to have a strategy and team approach to public relations. Too often I’ve seen clients that have internal and external public relations support that don’t communicate with each other, so the left PR hand doesn’t know what the right PR hand is doing. It can cause confusion of the company’s message and even be time-consuming because information might come out in pieces, so the company doesn’t know how to proceed, especially in a crisis situation. Sometimes the parts of the PR wheel are so disjointed that the principals of the company have to step into the PR kitchen, causing frustration among everyone involved.
So if you’re going to do what Friends Life has done, be sure to have a plan that everyone knows how to work with, and communicate effectively with all parts of the PR puzzle.