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Best Practices in Managing Public Relations

ID: SM-154


6 Info Graphics

10 Data Graphics

204 Metrics

12 Best Practices

Pages: 36

Published: Pre-2019

Delivery Format: Shipped


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Manage staffing and budgets for your external affairs department, as well as assign proper roles and responsibilities. This Best Practices Benchmarking® Report will help your public relations organization parcel its various roles and responsibilities, staffing levels and budget requirements between corporate overseers and decentralized executors.  This research will also enable you to compare your current staffing levels, budgets, roles and responsibilities, and performance measurements against those of leading public relations organizations. 

Industries Profiled:
Energy; Computer Software; Transportation; Consulting; Shipping; Professional Services; Logistics; Pharmaceutical; Biotech; Telecommunications

Companies Profiled:
AEP; Cogentrix; Mirant; NRG Energy; Red Hat; Southwest Airlines; UPS; various; Verizon

Study Snapshot

This Best Practices Benchmarking® Report profiles a highly-regarded group of companies that have proven public relations excellence in place. These companies have not only demonstrated effective operating principles and winning strategies in public relations management, but they have also developed innovative methods for building strong, consistent corporate brand, leveraging technology for improved communication, and strategic outsourcing.

This study report also includes extensive analysis of benchmark partners' public relations staffing and budgeting levels and practices.  By studying other organizations’ best practices in public relations management, your company can better understand how to allocate budget and staffing resources, optimize public relations resources and minimize expenses.

Key Findings

This public relations management research uncovered general trends affecting corporate and business unit public relations organizations across multiple industries. Best Practices, LLC identified and profiled many of the tactics and most effective practices embedded in these companies' winning public relations management strategies. Survey data and best practices interviews reveal the following key lessons learned:

  • Shared Public Relations Responsibilities - Public relations budgets have remained fairly steady for several years, pushing practitioners to do more with less or the same amount of resources. Benchmark partners report public relations tasks are as important as they ever were - perhaps even more important in a society overloaded with information from a variety of media. With so many sources of information, partners indicate the need to balance limited public relations resources with communication needs, especially during growth periods. To strike this balance, top companies train marketing or plant managers in communication and public relations skills, leverage technology to distribute a set communications strategy to line employees, and hire outside firms to augment a small core of communications employees who set strategy and oversee outsource relationships. Partners that share public relations responsibilities report reduced personnel costs, greater communications and economic development impact on local markets and increased timeliness with the media. 
  • Corporate Image Consistency - Benchmark findings underscore the importance of a positive corporate reputation for future company success. Benchmark partners known for their reputation-management success point to consistency as a fundamental factor in building credibility and maximizing communication efforts. Leading companies concentrate responsibility for brand and reputation management at the corporate level to ensure consistency. Public relations functions at best-in-class companies develop three to 10 key messages to emphasize when dealing with the public, monitor public communications to ensure message consistency, track frequency of key messages in media mentions and utilize a variety of technologies to facilitate the transfer of consistent messages across business units and international sites. 
  • Innovative Technologies - To concentrate on strategic communication efforts, best practitioner public relations departments migrate public relations information to company websites and intranets. Benchmark partners satisfy many needs of the public and press by providing important company announcements, executive biographies, downloadable promotional images, economic development applications and other communications features electronically. Likewise, top companies post industry and company news, executive speeches and corporate-approved talking points surrounding specific issues on corporate intranets to help non-public relations employees deal with the public. 
  • Strategic Outsourcing - Many benchmark partners outsource corporate communications and public relations activities to specialty firms. Often smaller companies contract public relations firms more frequently than larger organizations. Benchmark findings suggest that larger companies have more dedicated public relations resources as a result of more media attention and complex communications activities. Smaller companies, however, often have fewer dedicated communications staff and must employ outsourced firms to handle overflows, public requests for information, product-specific communications and international public relations tasks. Benchmark partners stress the importance of evaluating a vendor's core competencies, media contacts, pricing structures, international experience and understanding of the company's business model before contracting communications work.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary
  • Study Background and Methodology
  • Project Focus
  • Critical Lessons Learned
  • Benchmark Class
  • Report Structure and Organization
  • Next Steps
  • Lessons Learned Matrix

Public Relations Survey Analysis
  • Developing Public Relations Budgets
  • Building a Powerful Public Relations Team
  • Coordinating Public Relations Activities

Best Practices in Public Relations Staffing, Roles and Budgets
  • Optimizing Resources Through Structure
  • Driving Communications Impact with Innovative Tactics and Technology
  • Public Relations Survey Results

List of Charts & Exhibits

Budget vs. Revenue
Total External Affairs Budget
Spending by Function
Outsourcing as Percent of Budget
Outsourcing by Task
Outsourcing Relationship
FTEs as Percent of Total Workforce
External Affairs FTE Locations
FTEs by Function
Responsibilities by Task
Outsource External Affairs Activities
Company 6’s External Affairs Brand Management
Company 8’s External Affairs Structure
Forging Media Relationships
Training Marketing Managers
Track Media Mentions