A Plan for 2020

Here Are Some Strategies That Can Be Included in Managerial Objectives.

Public relations planning and activities are necessary for survival. The 21st century ushered in a complex and demanding world of social media and a constantly accelerating marketing environment.

For the previous 100 years, PR was only needed mainly in case of emergencies. PR now has the ongoing responsibility of managing reputation and messages through several channels to a variety of publics.

Industries that previously ignored public relations will benefit from this transition mainly because they will need to have their fingers on the pulse of their communities and will be less likely to get into unanticipated and avoidable local problems with neighbors, employees, government officials and regulatory agencies.

While quarries are becoming more aware of the benefits of building rapport with their surrounding communities, some, particularly some smaller operations, are still isolating themselves. The “us vs. them” culture that comes from business leaders avoiding interaction with their publics leads to battles with employees, local NIMBY groups, reporters and government officials.

An organization that is part of the social fabric of its employees and the local community has a built-in resistance to damaging conflict and can avoid and mitigate unfavorable legislation and costly court cases.

Some local conflicts are unavoidable, but even the unavoidable ones can be managed better if the quarry managers and employees have developed working relationships with members of the community. Here are some strategies that can be included in managerial objectives for 2020.

  • Social Media. Most organizations are using social media by now. If you are not on social media, you should be. Open accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn. Putting your organization on Wikipedia is also valuable if you have someone with the expertise to write copy and manage the process. This will not only facilitate community relations goals, it will also enhance efforts by the sales team.
  • Events. Quarries that are in or adjacent to cities should schedule events and activities that involve employees and members of the local community, and they should create Facebook pages to promote them. This doesn’t need to be ambitious. Host a meeting for the local historical society and have someone on staff put together a presentation on the history of the quarry. Invite high school classes for tours. Plan an employee picnic and invite employees and their families. Sponsor a neighborhood clean up day.
  • News Media. No matter where a quarry is located, the nearest newspaper will understand that it has a responsibility to cover breaking news from that quarry. No organization is so obscure that it will not get news media coverage if there is a shooting, a lawsuit, or an accident. Figure out who would cover your operation and keep their contact information at hand in case of an emergency. Should an unexpected newsworthy event occur, it is imperative that a spokesperson get in touch with the news organization to tell the company’s side of the story. Also, if the news organization is relatively close, it is good to send them press releases announcing significant hirings and promotions in addition to any public activities sponsored by the quarry.
  • Civic Duty. If the quarry wants to be perceived as a responsible member of the community, it needs to be involved in community activities. Everyone in senior management should find a board to serve on or a community project to support.
  • Employees. Employees are the most important public group. The quality of their experience with the quarry is parallel to the quality of products and services the quarry offers its customers. Barring a recession, members of the work force have many options when looking for employment. Companies who treat their employees like business partners will attract the most productive workers. Companies that ignore their workforce will end up with the workers no one else wanted, and that translates into quality problems and safety issues. A good employee communication program includes behavior-based job interviews, orientations, training, frequent and meaningful feedback and social activities.

Start the year off right. Put these objectives on the wall in a meeting room, and check them off over the course of the next year.

Thomas J. Roach Ph.D., has 30 years experience in communication as a journalist, media coordinator, communication director and consultant. He has taught at Purdue University Northwest since 1987, and is the author of “An Interviewing Rhetoric.” He can be reached at [email protected].

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