I grew up in central Massachusetts near Mount Wachusett where it was a bit colder and snowier than inside the Route 128 belt. I remember helping my dad putty the cracks in the antique windows in our 18th century house, letting the water drip overnight during the coldest stretches so the pipes didn’t freeze and making sure we got all of the leaves raked before the first snow.
Every so often, an early snow or cold snap would come through (I remember wearing snow boots trick or treating) meaning buried leaves would kill the grass and my siblings and I would freeze when we watched Saturday morning cartoons in a drafty room where thin carpet covered a concrete slab of a floor. The lesson was that the worst time to prepare for winter was when it was happening.
PR in a softening economy and uncertain landscape is no different. The worst time to media coach a spokesperson is five minutes before a tough broadcast appearance and crisis communications becomes triage when you don’t have a plan in place.
Here are five areas where marketing, PR and people teams can invest any end-of-year time and budget to winterize their external and internal communications programs heading into 2023:
Even the most seasoned spokesperson can use refresher courses on how to handle a tough interview. We’ve just exited a two-year stretch of unprecedented economic growth and investment, combined with an environment where in-person media events were few and far between. Have a team going to CES, HIMSS, RSA or another event in 1H 2023? Now is a great time to put them through messaging refresh sessions, mock interviews and media policy reviews. We recommend brushing up on media training 1x per year.
PR crises follow the 80/20 rule, meaning 80 percent of the scenarios are predictable and 20 percent are not. Preparing for the common or anticipated scenarios is easy in practice, but way too many companies put it off or never do it. Be your company’s PR hero by having a crisis plan in place that includes common scenarios, decision trees, holding statement libraries and a social media escalation plan. Speaking of social media…
The past few years have seen a lot of companies go from dozens of employees to thousands. That growth has likely led to a lot of process breakdowns, including policy management when it comes to things like employees representing your brand on social media. One wrong tweet, like or share can cause headaches with regulators or for HR. Having a buttoned-up social media policy in place that is effectively communicated to team members without discouraging engagement can be critical to avoiding headaches and presenting a positive brand.
You’re a late stage or public company and the only thing you’ve changed more often than your brand guidelines is your story. Yet sitting there on your site and your social channels—the first introduction strategic audiences often get to your brand—is outdated or inconsistent messaging. A content and social audit can help you clean those pesky content gutters that might be preventing you from telling a coherent story to the market while also muddying your SEO efforts.
Has it been a bit since you updated your social cards, b-roll and other visual content assets? Do you have some extra budget to get a survey out into the field about a timely topic that might be top of mind for the media in Q1 or to build a data report? This is a great time to get your house in order when it comes to assets you might need to up your communications game in 2023.
Filling holes in the foundation of your communications program can seem unsexy— even chore-like—but small leaks can cause major problems over time. A little time, focus and extra budget can go a long way toward shoring things up. And if you need to bring in extra resources, here are my top tips for finding (and hiring) the right agency partner.
Jason is president of Inkhouse and spearheads agency growth from the San Francisco Bay Area. His singular mission is to debunk the myth that people can't be happy long term on the agency side of PR where he has spent more than 20 years working with companies in venture capital, technology and consumer.