Why Public Relations Is the Most Critical HR Competency
Have you ever read a company-wide, game-changing email and thought, “Why was this sent out now?”
- how open and approachable or closed off and distant leadership seems
- how efficient processes are
Employee handbooks are used by HR to communicate policy, culture, values and employment-related procedures. When evaluating the effectiveness of your HR handbook, ask yourself: Does the handbook convey trust and accountability, or does it read as more punitive and restrictive? Does it convey clear expectations, or is it vague and contradictory in places?
Experienced HR consultants and labor attorneys can work with the marketing team to ensure that the company brand is reinforced in a way that does not put the company at risk. HR can even create separate internal marketing documents that highlight benefits and culture, but refer back to the complete handbook and official plan documents.
Elements of an effective HR communication
PR-minded HR professionals understand the factors that shape the way a message is received, since this can hugely impact how that message is received. HR staff should carefully consider such elements as timing, audience, and impact. They should ask themselves the following questions prior to composing and sending any internal or external communication:
- What other competing announcements and projects are happening, and how can HR time their message to not get lost in the shuffle?
- Has anything happened recently or is something about to happen that might undermine, contradict or confuse the message HR is about to send?
- Who needs to hear the message first? The manager? The whole team?
- When is the best time to make an announcement to make the best impact?
- Who is directly or indirectly impacted?
- Who will feel offended or left out if not included?
- Who will be annoyed that you blew up their email with irrelevant correspondence?
- Who needs to know?
- Who does not need to know?
- Weight or Impact
- How important is the communication and who does it affect?
- What is HR doing to differentiate one type of communication from a more significant one?
- How will HR manage the outcome? How will they ensure that the intended message is received and the right result is achieved?
There are many resources available to help HR professionals craft effective, creative messages to promote their employer brand.
Actions speak louder than legalese
The daily actions of HR personnel also reflect directly on the organization and company leadership in the eyes of employees and applicants. Does HR take a consultative or business partner approach when supporting managers?
It is important for HR professionals to go beyond the rules to understand why the rules exist in the first place, and never place a blind acceptance of those rules over the best interests of the organization.
HR personnel should lead with their PR brains in matters of everyday company culture, and reserve their compliance brains for the major risk factors with serious business and legal implications wherever possible.
Employers, professional organizations, and marketing experts alike all agree that human resources personnel must possess a PR skill set. Through effectively managing employee and applicant perception and through creating positive people experiences, HR professionals can build and strengthen employer brands.
If you want more tips on building your unique employer brand, check out this resource: