Navigating Company Changes with Grace

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September 13, 2016

Change is inevitable and, in some cases, even welcome. For a company, changes can mean growth and development or it could mean scaling back on work or resources. However, with any transition comes the need to communicate the changes to industry peers, clients, and other involved parties. Not only does this show transparency, but it also builds trust and allows you to nurture the relationships you have developed.

Whether you’re going through a rebrand or a change of ownership in the company, it’s essential for your network to hear it from you rather than someone else. A rule of thumb in PR is to push yourself to be proactive, rather than reactive—prepare for the change in advance and don’t bring in communications specialists after things go wrong.

Message definition

First and foremost, you’ll need to define your message. What are you trying to convey? Is the company introducing a new service to its repertoire? Will you be welcoming a new employee to the team? Are you headed off for maternity leave and want to share when you’ll be back in the office? Whatever the reason behind the change, it’s key to express your message in professional and respectable manner.

Need to know

Next, it’s time to determine who is in the need-to-know category. Obviously, your employees and shareholders are the priority, but it’s also nice to inform your past, present, and future clients as well as any industry peers and partners. Only once your target audiences have been told about the change should you release the news to the general public.

With an idea of who needs to be notified, keep in mind that there will most likely be targeted communication for each audience—meaning your clients won’t be hearing the same message as your employees. With that said, remember to be clear and specific in all outgoing communications and avoid using jargon to eliminate confusion. Always open yourself up to questions or concerns to continue building your level of transparency.

Disseminating

As for the how-to, there are plenty of ways to disseminate a message, so it’s important to consider which will best reach those that you want to notify. Sharing on your website and blog is probably an obvious method, but don’t forget to incorporate social media into your outreach. A simple Instagram or Facebook post can reach those who follow your company but may not frequent your website. Emails and newsletters are also convenient ways to reach a specific group of people.

Once everyone is in the loop, you can finally get the press involved and push your message to the greater public, assuming that it is newsworthy. Evaluate your media options carefully—most outlets tailor their content to a specific audience, so be sure that it aligns with your values. After narrowing your options down, you’ll need to find the right contact or else you risk your pitch getting lost. Look for the beat that best fits your news and reach out to the frequent reporters to share, keeping your message short and sweet.

Remember—change is different for everyone, so don’t gauge your plan on a competitor or peer’s strategy. You’ll need to find out what works best for your company, so it’s essential to determine how you’ll track return on investment from the beginning and how you define success.

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting, which specializes in getting wedding professionals their brides. She is a highly sought after industry speaker and serves as a Public Relations adjunct professor for Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

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