Two ways to know it’s time to hire a communications firm

Posted by Eleanor Vaughan on December 18, 2012

“Do I need communications help?” It’s a question that industry association leaders often ask themselves. How do you know when a problem is too big to deal with on your own? If you find yourself in one of the two scenarios described below, it’s probably time to call for reinforcements.

Scenario 1: The phone is ringing and you don’t know what to say.

You are overwhelmed with phone calls from journalists asking about your industry, your organization, and your issues — and you don’t know how to respond. Perhaps the media is hurling around unfounded accusations about your industry’s practices. Perhaps the federal or provincial government has just decided to cut funding on which your industry relies. Perhaps there is a bill pending in the House of Commons or at City Hall with the potential to adversely or positively impact your organization. Whatever the reason, you find yourself overwhelmed with public or political attention and uncertain about how to respond.

In this scenario, a communications firm can help you to develop strong “lines to take” when addressing public audiences, write press releases which address the concerns your organization faces, and prepare you to present a strong, confident face for your industry. A firm can also develop a comprehensive legislative or regulatory strategy that includes researching and preparing briefing notes for officials, arrange meetings and ensuring you’ve got the communication strategies to represent your interests to government. Hiring a communications firm is often the first step to a proactive communications strategy in which your priorities – rather than external events – drive action.

Scenario 2: You have something to say but no one wants to listen.

You’re having difficulty attracting the public attention to or political action on your most important issues. Perhaps your industry supports new regulations that have yet to be enacted. Perhaps your members embroiled in a labor dispute with no resolution in sight. Despite of your best efforts, no progress seems to be made. Maybe you’ve already tried issuing press releases and setting up meetings with elected officials, but have enjoyed little reward for your efforts. You’ve been wracking your brain, trying to determine how to draw attention to and thus action on your issue, but you’re coming up blank and time is running out.

We are here to help. At Broadview, we find that it is often helpful relate an industry’s specific issues to broader public concerns in order to draw media attention. Why should the average citizen support your cause? By asking this question and others, we help to empower you with the most persuasive case.

We also believe that when you say something is nearly as important as what you say.  At Broadview, we help clients to develop a timelines for when to talk to the media, hold events, and issue press releases in order to maximize the attention that their issues will receive.  Drawing attention to your cause probably won’t happen overnight. Building momentum can be a long – and sometimes arduous – process that requires patience, consistency, and discipline to succeed.

Both the scenarios we’ve discussed – whether your organization is attracting more public attention than it can handle or not nearly enough – involve a common trait. That trait is powerlessness. The organization involved is being forced to react to external events, rather than driving action through a proactive strategy. In both scenarios, key issues – labor disputes, legislation, government funding – fail to be addressed.

If you’re skeptical about whether your organization needs to hire a communications firm, ask yourself this: Do you drive the agenda or is the agenda driving you?