Strategic communications is central to business continuity

Strategic communications is central to business continuity

Ann-Marie O'Sullivan, chief executive of AM O'Sullivan PR. Picture: Seán Lordan

CONFIDENCE in the public relations industry was gauged recently through a survey conducted by IPREX, a global network of communications agencies with 60 partners worldwide, including AM O’Sullivan PR in Cork and Walsh PR in Dublin.

The pandemic has put PR in the spotlight as being central to business continuity for organisations and economic recovery.

Whether organisations need issue management, reputation management, or support through a restructuring project, the value of strategic communications was really showcased in 2020 and PR has been recognised as a necessity during the past year.

Internal communications, in particular, an area that organisations very often pay lip-service to, came into its own.

IPREX global president Julie Exner noted that the PR industry became more highly valued in 2020.

“In a changing environment, the PR industry stepped up with the necessary support for a variety of issues and crises for its client organisations, including dealing with the complexities that arose from the mass movement of people moving to working from home.”

What stands out from the IPREX survey is the value of global connections. Every organisation, no matter where in the world it is located, has had to adapt its business objectives and operations, and both internal and external communications have been intrinsic to the transition.

For the past year, IPREX partners have been sharing industry knowledge and partnering with peer agencies in different countries. Weekly Covid calls provided a platform to share and learn from different global perspectives.

Jim Walsh, of Walsh PR, echoed the importance of international perspectives for the PR industry.

“In 2020 liaising with our colleagues in China and Italy who were several months ahead of where we were in terms of lockdown was very helpful to understand from them the communication implications of what we were about to face into,” he said.

“During the year we also had the opportunity to cooperate with IPREX partners in managing client activities and in sharing inquiries for PR programmes outside Ireland.”

While different Covid-19 related restrictions apply to organisations across the globe, there is a shared view among IPREX members that companies will enter development mode rather than survival mode during 2021.

As a result of the pandemic, alliance efforts in the PR industry are now more likely to take the form of global cooperation, collaboration and partnership with independent firms “on the ground” in key markets, operating with the benefits of shared talent, technology, and best practices.

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