If you’re in business long enough it’s a given: at some point your company is going to go through a major transition, whether it’s a change in senior management or a shakeup within the board of directors. However, one transition that’s often underappreciated is the changing of a marketing executive. As PR practitioners, change in marketing leadership can either be an impediment to the continuity that has been developed over years or an opportunity to make a seamless transition without missing a beat.
If your company is separating with a senior member of its marketing team, one of the first things you should do is reach out to your PR firm and apprise them of the situation. In turn, your PR firm should be proactive in developing a plan and taking part in calls and meetings with the remaining marketing team members and senior executives to fill them in on the status of ongoing PR projects. Many times, the remaining executives may have been somewhat removed from the marketing initiatives taking place and how they relate to various PR campaigns that have either been completed or are in progress.
Once your PR firm is aware of the change, they should continue to be engaged and as the first order of business, provide you with both a current snapshot of PR activity and an overall plan of where campaigns are headed. In order for this to happen without much disruption, you should consider the following steps:
Engage your PR firm Early in the Process
If there is change brewing in your marketing department, it’s important to fill your PR firm in at the earliest possible opportunity. As your PR firm is a major conduit to how your business engages with the outside world, it’s important that they know what’s going on within the company so that they can keep moving forward with planned initiatives or stop others due to a change in direction. Engaging your PR firm early also enables them to plan ahead so that there isn’t a gap in producing great earned media, blog development or bylined articles.
Keep Them Up-To-Date on Changes in Marketing Strategy and Messaging
Often, a change in marketing executive triggers a change in overall marketing strategy and messaging. Given PR’s role in communicating with external audiences, it’s important that they’re kept abreast of the changes, enabling your firm the ability to modify a particular campaign they’re working on or the content that they’re developing. PR is very forward looking; it’s important to communicate the changes to your firm so that they can make timely adjustments to upcoming campaigns or hold off on certain activities until the new marketing executive is on the job. Otherwise, the resulting damage to brand and reputation could prove catastrophic.
Conduct an In-person Meeting with the Entire Executive Team
While a lot of business is conducted over the phone, through email and other virtual conferencing platforms, when a new marketing team or team member is brought onboard nothing beats the benefits of an in-person meeting. This enables all parties involved to get to know each other a little better and lends an opportunity for everyone to get on the same page with new messaging and priorities. Additionally, many companies have domestic and international PR firms. This in-person meeting allows everyone to get together to ensure that there are no snarls in the marketing direction and also helps to bridge the gap between the important roles of marketing and public relations. Ultimately, an in-person meeting is an activity that your PR firm should be driving once a transition in marketing staff is announced.
While a change in marketing leadership can be disruptive, when it comes to your Public Relations activities, it doesn’t have to be. Engaging your PR firm early in the process and ensuring that they’re being proactive in helping with the transition will go far to help your business get through this hurdle with limited interruption to its overall PR strategy.
Adam Waitkunas authors the column “Anecdotally Adam” and is President of Milldam Public Relations.