PR for Economic Development Organizations
One of the most overlooked business strategies for economic development organizations is the power of public relations. Most economic development organizations (EDO) share a common goal of enhancing the prosperity of the community they represent. The efforts made by EDOs are crucial to the survival of any community – by investing in the economy, you invest in its people. So, where does PR fit into this? Well, for EDOs focused on successfully achieving that goal, then PR should get serious consideration.
Read on to learn more about what value PR can offer economic development organizations and how it can strengthen them and their community impact.
What is PR for economic development organizations?
Many organizations are not entirely clear on what PR is and what value it can offer them. In the simplest of terms, PR is all about building and maintaining a mutually beneficial connection between an organization and its audience. As an EDO, investing in your reputation among that audience is a key business strategy for success. PR can strengthen an existing reputation or build one completely from scratch by growing an organization’s relationships and credibility within its community. Done effectively, it can look like this:
- Establishing an awareness of your organization’s efforts and partnerships throughout the community.
- Earning exposure for wins and highlighting outcomes – sharing your organization’s story!
- Executing clear communication and outreach for assessment needs or community forums.
- Preserving and generating stakeholder relations with many funding sources and partners. Clear communication is crucial here.
- Resolution of crises that can often arise throughout an EDOs important work.
When PR for economic development goes right
When PR is implemented as a business strategy and each of these efforts is brought to fruition, it can be extremely rewarding for the organization. At Siren, we say this from experience:
- We dove deep with our client to uncover the inspiring stories around entrepreneurship and economic development opportunities that existed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
- As COVID-19 gripped businesses in Royal Oak’s downtown district, it was our job to communicate the opportunity and put this help into the right hands.
- Our challenge was to align many stakeholders to a vision focused on creating a sustainable business ecosystem in southeast Michigan.
What opportunities are missed when PR is overlooked?
Simply put, when PR isn’t activated as a business strategy your organization misses opportunities. Prior to working with a strategic partner, common missed opportunities for EDOs include a decline in grants and funding, being stuck staying small, and strained communication and reputation with their audience.
Strengthen your economic development organization
If your EDO is looking to level up its impact and effectiveness, we’ve curated some best business practices to start implementing today:
- Utilize statistical data to gain a better knowledge of your playing field.
- Get comfortable with continuous research. In an ever-changing market, you must deeply understand it in order to seek out grants that you’re most likely to win and understand the needs your constituents have.
- Lean into innovation, either for your operations or for the help you provide – or both!
- Work with a strategic communication partner to clarify your communications and build trust with your audiences.
Does your economic development organization need PR?
Now that you understand what value PR can bring to your organization, the question remains: when should you seek a partner and utilize PR? If you find your EDO often struggling with any of these pain points, you could be overlooking the power of PR:
- You often hear that your organization is “the best-kept secret.” At first, this sounds like a compliment, but when you break it down it really means that not enough of your target audience is aware of the services you offer.
- You notice that opportunities are not being optimized to the fullest, either for your constituents or for your organization.
- Funding is drying up. You find yourself worried about the longevity of your organization.
- Support is drying up. Your audience, partners, and stakeholders are less and less engaged with your organization and its mission.
These are real stressors for many organizations and companies, but utilizing PR as a business strategy can relieve these pain points and collaborate to achieve your overarching goals.
Economic development organizations are so often juggling a dizzying array of needs, from funders, constituents, stakeholders, municipalities, and others. This can tap out bandwidth and make it difficult to know where your organization needs to grow and even harder to know where to start. But, you’re not alone in this. There are PR partners available to strengthen your organization’s business strategy and the trust of the community you represent.
As your strategic communication partner, Siren can help your organization engage in meaningful and effective PR. Learn more about our impact.