Using HR as PR is gaining favor: Here’s why

Using HR as PR is gaining favor: Here’s why

These days, brands are fighting for journalists’ attention.

With the number of journalists shrinking and the number of PR pros rising, it stands to reason that competition for earned media is fierce. The same old fodder just isn’t cutting it any longer. Journalists are looking for stories that go beyond covering products.

Clearly, PR pros have to be more creative than ever to garner attention from reporters.

As public relations practitioners struggle to come up with newsworthy story ideas, there’s a trend toward using stories coming out of the HR department as the basis for media outreach.

New human resources policies are now being given a PR push.

Take for example Chobani. The brand made international headlines when its founder announced the company would grant stock shares to every employee. Later, Chobani announced an expanded parental leave program for both mothers and fathers. And, the company has committed to hiring refugees from war-torn countries like Syria.

Another example is Palo Alto Software based in Eugene, Oregon, which garnered media attention for its family-friendly office policy. Kids are always welcome, so if a parent has a conflict with childcare, they can bring their children to work -- no questions asked.

Or look at Treehouse, a software company in Portland, Oregon, which made news for its four-day work week policy.

So, how are these examples a win for both PR and HR?

Beyond showing the company’s employees it cares, this gets brands in the news -- which also attracts potential new hires.

Companies are now battling it out over top job candidates. If a candidate is considering more than one potential employer, a positive story in the media about forward-thinking HR policies can make the difference.

Further, human resources policies that put employees first come back to benefit employers in other ways.

Employees are your public face. If they’re happy -- or unhappy -- it shows. As your brand ambassadors, it makes sense to treat them well. Having a positive culture means employees will eagerly praise the organization. With sites like Glassdoor gaining in popularity, companies must be aware that a disgruntled employee -- or ex-employee -- can do major damage to a brand.

It just makes good sense for marketing and PR departments to factor in the influence of these job sites. This further connects the dots between corporate culture and corporate communication.

These HR-focused pitches are also great for building relationships with journalists, who seem to love stories about company culture.

And, what will happy journalists do? They’ll be more likely to keep your brand and its products and services in mind the next time they’re writing a story that may pertain to your industry. A positive experience with a reporter generally leads to future interactions. So, it can boost your earned media opportunities.

Of course, positive stories in the media can drive sales, as well. Consumers gravitate toward brands telling uplifting stories -- so it becomes a cycle of goodwill and positivity for the company.

And, let’s not forget about investor relations.

Organizational culture is a topic increasingly popular on earnings calls, as well. The rate of companies referring to culture during these calls surged from 19 percent in 2010 to 29 percent in 2016.

The bottom line? If you’re a PR pro searching for creative story angles, try looking to your HR department to see what might be happening there. Chances are they could be hatching something newsworthy.

Have you ever tried this approach? Let us know on Twitter.

You'll find Michelle Messenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and award-winning writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, Spin Sucks, Freelancers Union and others. She was named a Top 100 PR Influencer by Onalytica. Michelle was also recently appointed to the board of Women in PR USA.

Photo via Pixabay

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