Finally Got a Seat at the Table? Here’s How to Keep It

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Increasingly more, public relations is being recognized as the essential business function it is. If you’re a PR pro who’s earned a coveted seat at the table, congratulations! Now, how do you keep your position of influence?

Once you have the ear of management, you can’t rest on your laurels. You have to consistently educate and explain what you’ve achieved in language that non-communications people can understand—and demonstrate that there is a real return on investment.

This was the focus of a session at the 2019 PRSA Western District Conference. We heard effective strategies about how PR pros can keep their seats at the table, and we’ve gathered our favorites here. Try employing these ideas to make deeper connections with management.

  • Speak up. Quite simply, management won’t trust you if they don’t know where you stand on things. You must be willing to raise your voice and share your opinion. It’s not always easy; sometimes, speaking up means pointing out blind spots or offering constructive criticism. But sharing your point of view is necessary if you want to be a valued member of the team.
  • Show commitment. If you’re going to do something, be enthusiastic about it and see it through to the end. This goes whether you’re working on your own initiative or helping someone else with their project. And if things don’t go as planned, be willing to readjust and find a new solution.
  • Use SMART goals. Goal setting is a manager’s favorite pastime, so speak in their language when presenting your ideas. Anything brought to the table should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. If your goals hit all of these points, you’ll have a much easier time convincing others to get on board.
  • Be thoughtful. If you have a seed of an idea, let it germinate for a bit before you bring it to the table. Take time to think of it from every angle: What channels can you use? What partners can you bring in? What do you want to accomplish? Have your own answers to these questions before opening it up to a larger discussion.
  • Use the power of persuasion. If your superiors and coworkers are on the skeptical side, you may need to use a little persuasion to get them to put their faith in you. Their existing perceptions may be preventing them from fully trusting in your ideas. Push past these assumptions and get them to see and adopt your beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.
  • Build goodwill. Even if you have the best ideas in the world, people won’t be willing to listen if you’re challenging to work with. As in every situation, the golden rule applies at the office: Be someone who’s helpful, friendly and kind, and your battle’s half over.
  • Show the numbers. Provide data at every opportunity you have. This includes goals at the beginning of an initiative, markers throughout the process and outcomes at the end. Hard data is the clearest way to show management what you’ve accomplished.
  • Share the vision. In addition to the nitty gritty numbers, be sure to show management the larger value of what you’re doing. They need to understand the big picture, too. Plus, if the numbers aren’t quite where you want them to be, remembering the larger goal can help everyone stay focused and reassured.

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