Community Relations: an understated public relations activity
Building local community relationships can be the most important communication
activity undertaken by an organisation, yet it is often overlooked. As a public
relations consultancy with a strong focus on SMEs and franchise businesses
amongst others, it is a priority goal we set for our clients to develop a solid,
ongoing and reliable community relations program.
For local businesses and franchises, it is important to get to know your
neighbourhood and to get involved with local initiatives. This will in turn help
raise awareness of your business and services, as well as being a great
opportunity to get to know your competitors.
Since any organisation can expect to communicate with a range of community
audiences including employees, shareholders, creditors, consumers, the media,
the general public and government agencies, an effective communication plan
needs to be implemented.
Below are some suggested activities which, when used as a tool with an effective
communication strategy and PR plan, can be highly effective in raising awareness
of your business within your community. Remember GET INVOLVED!
In a community relations program, it is very important to build relationships
with key journalists from the local media outlets. By doing this, you have an
already established rapport with them which could be of a huge benefit in times
This could mean, for example, sponsoring a local event (community day or fair),
donating new sports equipment to the local soccer club or donating a prize to
the local schools speech night. This type of sponsorship is reasonably
inexpensive yet can be capitalised on to make a great local newspaper story.
Business and community groups
An increased involvement in key business groups should also be introduced as
part of the promotional activities. This involvement will help create visibility
of your organisation within a business and community audience, therefore
increasing the chances of developing strategic partnerships with other local
businesses and groups. There could also be an opportunity for cross promotion in
the business groups' members' newsletters, publications or website.
by Dennis Rutzou