PR Departments Getting Worked – and Hard

May 28, 2009 by angelsmith

Agency budgets are being cut but the workload is not diminishing for most public relations departments as much of the burden is being shifted to an ever-leaner — and literally meaner — in-house staff.

Over the past few years PR has done a good job at grabbing a significant share of the social media pie, handling ongoing crises counsel, playing a key role in product launches and so on. But the ever-increasing size of the PR department’s role and responsibilities, has not led to an equal or even pro rata share of the marketing budget pie.

As a result, today’s in-house PR staff is being asked to do much more with much less and burnout is just around the corner.

Here are 5 Things that an astute PR department head can do:

1. Go “flex-staff.” Bring in freelance support that will not add head count but has deep experience and appropriate experience for your immediate needs. Today there are freelance matchmakers, ala PR Talent, that can match talent to task.

2. “Trade Up.” You may not be able to add headcount but you might be able to replace headcount. Assuming the poor performers have already been let go, now is the time to replace the mediocre or fair performers. Start a search for that rock star that can upgrade your staff and replace “water-treaders.”

3. “Get Efficient.” You may have to spend a little to save a lot, but management consultants can evaluate your staffing, your agency contracts, your costs, and your processes. All in an effort to streamline your organization and help you do more with less.

4. “Over communicate.” When times are tough, it’s harder to be a cheerleader. Resist the urge to spend more time with the door shut and run a more transparent and engaging operation that keeps your people informed. People who feel like they’re being treated like adults and kept in the loop, are more likely to stick around through the tough times.

5. “Plan for the Good Times.” Even though budgets may be tight and hiring curtailed, you can lay out a plan with a timeline that shows your staff where you want to take them once things turn around. By giving them something to look forward to, you may be able to get them to dwell less on their present circumstances.

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