Aubia Communications

Guest Post: Community Relations: Building local relationships through Public Relations

Community Relations: Building local relationships through Public RelationsFor me, community relations is the most important part of Public Relations and can be the most rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to build and maintain a relationship with the people outside of your walls.

This aspect of PR tells the community about an organization. It increases their awareness and understanding; maintains a good reputation; and creates advocates. Sure, this can be done from a desk, but practitioners should want to get out and be active to be the most effective. Remember, you are a part of the community.

How does community relations work?

Tells the public about an organization and increases their awareness and understanding

Most businesses maintain a storefront, are a member of the chamber of commerce, and have a website, but where are they on the community’s radar? When a business plan is created, effort is put into determining who the target audience is. However, do they know who you are? How can you get that word out? There are Web and social media pages to get your message out, but you can go a step farther by being a well-respected and good neighbor.

This is where giving to the community helps. Get involved in activities like food and clothes drives, volunteer to help elderly or homeless, provide computer repair for a local school. Reach out in a manner that is in line with your business. Use a service that you provide and share it. If you own a sports equipment store or restaurant, sponsor a local team. Don’t just provide a shirt with your business’s name on it or offer a free meal. Show up to their games and cheer them on.

Maintains a good reputation

Community Relations: Building local relationships through Public RelationsMonitor what groups and individuals are saying about you. Keep an honest and open dialogue with the community about who you are and what you do. By monitoring feedback, you can find out if there are any early warning signs to upcoming crises that may be resolved early. If messaging is consistent, there is a record you can stand on.

Additionally, find out what charities are important to your employees and how might you get involved. Employees live in the community, may have grown up there, and may share some of the same concerns. Get out and get involved. These actions may garner positive media coverage, strengthening your reputation. More importantly, there is no greater reward than giving.

Creates advocates

Engage. Focus on the relationship with your public. Do you offer a high quality product or service consistently? When it comes to customer service, listen to the needs of your customers and act on it. Patrons are talking about you to others, so make sure you have a genuine relationship with them. If they visit your Web or social media pages, see about addressing their needs and not just using the platforms to sell them on something. Engaging with the consumer long enough strengthens the relationship and will enable you to know the opinions of your customer, which may differ from the view the company has about itself.

These advocates can be helpful when there may be unflattering speech about you. They will stand up for you and help fight your fight by sharing their personal experiences. This is more genuine than you talking about how good you are.

Relationships take time to build. Your outreach should be a continually ongoing process. Community outreach builds and maintains relationships. It can help a company’s reputation and help repair it, if need be.

HarryLundyHarry Lundy is originally from New York State and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. After his service he was a contractor for the German Air Force. He also worked in radio and TV broadcasting before returning to work for the Air Force as a public affairs officer. He is currently the deputy director of Community Outreach at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

photo credit: USAFE / AFAFRICA via photopin cc

photo credit: USAFE / AFAFRICA via photopin cc

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