Benefits abound when PR is infused into a company's fabric

As PR pros, we understand the importance of infusing PR across all business functions from strategic planning and operational management to advertising and marketing.

As PR pros, we understand the importance of infusing PR across all business functions from strategic planning and operational management to advertising and marketing. But despite the progress PR had made, it was and is still underutilized in many organizations.

Fortunately, as corporations look to increase trust and relevancy, PR is emerging as a strategic function. In 2006, when I joined 1-800-Flowers.com, PR was not a centralized business function across the enterprise. But with support from CEO Jim McCann and president Chris McCann, it is now interwoven into our fabric.

Below are a few tactics for PR pros as they work to seize the opportunity to inject PR into the fiber of their organizations:

Create an infrastructure that breeds success. Work with business leaders across the organization to develop a true understanding of how their part of the business works and how PR can advance their objectives. We have PR managers assigned individually to work with business leaders to understand their goals, the nuances of their business, and to help them communicate their key messages to their constituents; ultimately moving them closer to their business goals.

Embrace transparency. Nothing is more powerful than when you raise the curtain and give your stakeholders a peek inside. For me, a defining moment and career milestone was when Jim and Chris were featured on Undercover Boss. As a highly customer-engaged company, we took the opportunity to provide an unfiltered look behind the scenes, which was a major victory for our brand.

See the larger picture with social media. Help senior management understand the great opportunity - and challenges - social media presents. As a strong dialogue-building tactic, PR is uniquely suited to own social media, however, the reality is "it takes a village" to do it well. At 1-800-Flowers.com, all departments from marketing and PR to HR and CRM are working in unison to execute programs, thus fostering a greater dialogue with customers and employees.

The fast-evolving business landscape and transformative media environment has caused a paradigm shift that enables PR to take its place as a necessary strategic function. The opportunity is here for us to take our companies and our industry to the next level.

Yanique Woodall is VP, enterprise PR at 1-800-Flowers.com.

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