Public Relations

Proactive public relations

Public Relations Planning & Strategy

Public Relations Planning and Strategy precedes results. As public relations counselors who operate as a seamless extension of our clients, we become deeply involved in the goals and concerns of our clients. Our clients rely on us to identify and communicate emerging trends, new means of reaching audiences cost-effectively, and creative approaches to communicate redundant messages like safety, quality and shareholder return to the same audiences year after year. Our Public Relations Plans and Strategies capture research findings, establish objectives, strategies, tactics, timelines, budgets and evaluation methods, always with a focus on the results the client sought when engaging the agency as their partner.

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Media Relations

Whether you’re upset to find yourself on Fox News or yearning to be featured in the Wall Street Journal, Houston Chronicle or Houston Business Journal, Ward’s public relations specialists will craft a Media Relations strategy that’s right for you.

Our results-driven programs include:
  • Proactive media relations strategies
  • Fast-response media tactics when time is of the essence
  • Long-term media relationship-building to build brands, sway opinion, educate audiences
  • Bylined articles to build credibility and authority, and influence action
  • Editorials and letters to the editor to support public opinion and policy
  • Editorial board meetings to educate media about issues
  • Effective news response to influence accuracy, balance and fairness
  • Ghostwriting in key trade journals to educate decision-makers on best practices and solutions
  • Highly visual media events and content to appeal to media who now must show more than tell the story
  • Creation of viable story angles when little or no news exists or can be shared publicly
  • Interview preparation and staffing to support spokespeople in being successful in their spokesperson role
  • News release writing and placement to keep audiences current
  • News conferences to announce or respond to significant events
  • Proactive publicity to produce a steady drumbeat of third-party media coverage
  • Timely media monitoring to capture coverage as well as inform media messaging and strategy
  • Well-orchestrated media tours to deepen media understanding and ability to accurately cover issues, organizations and trends
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Media Training

PR_Media-TrainingGetting your point across in a media interview is not a talent, but rather a skill learned in Media Training. Through our sister company OnwardU, experienced facilitators have trained hundreds of spokespeople to deliver quotable messages via print, broadcast, wire and online media outlets in executive and group sessions, which may be customized to your particular situation. Routinely we conduct:

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Spokesperson Role

On occasion, our clients need one of our experienced public relations professionals to perform the company Spokesperson Role in media interviews or grassroots community relations initiatives, a role we are capable of filling.

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Social Media

Even in the business-to-business arena, there’s often a smart utilization of Social Media and Social Networking to reach key audiences. No longer considered emerging media, online communities and thought leaders have significant influence on decision-makers ─whether prospective customers, voters, employee recruits, referral sources or potential partners.

marketing_social-mediaDespite the reality of how communication occurs today, many management teams stuck in legacy thinking still falsely presume that their decision not to proactively manage social media means their company is not participating. Consistently, we demonstrate that this head-in-the-sand approach leaves them vulnerable as their employees, competitors, customers and supply chain are actively conversing in a world in which leadership has no insight and no ability to influence outcomes.

Sometimes at board member insistence, management turns to Ward to guide them in the responsible management of an increasingly dominant communication environment in which they have little experience and need the support of a social media strategist. After all, the mentors and memories of successful historical campaigns simply provide no relevant, reliable experience for viable strategies in the dynamic, screen-based communication world in which executives must manage their businesses today.

Our social media development includes:
  • Setting social media goals
  • Assisting with social media policies
  • Social media team designation and management
  • Social media training, especially for sales and technical experts whose influence in the marketplace is needed
  • Social media strategy
  • Social media integration with traditional public relations and marketing programs
  • Social media campaigns to drive product launches, reach new markets, etc.
  • Social media engagement on a daily basis to augment internal staff, and prevent distraction from core competencies and productivity
  • Social media measurement and tracking
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Investor Relations

We support publicly traded company Investor Relations programs and partner with client IR firms as needed when called upon to produce sound financial communications programs, including:
Investor-Relations-section

  • Analyst tours
  • Annual reports
  • Earnings releases
  • Material announcements
  • Financial community research
  • Financial media relations
  • Business press coverage
  • Company and executive profiles
  • Speaking engagements
  • Initial public offerings for private equity firms and high-growth businesses
  • Issues management
  • Material event news releases
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Community Relations

Through well-planned and -executed Community Relations programs, we have helped numerous organizations achieve strategic business goals such as:

  • increase sales
  • mitigate risk
  • improve event attendance
  • build store traffic
  • reduce fear
  • prevent litigation
  • build referral sources
  • encourage community inclusiveness
  • build support for issues and initiatives
  • support brand engagement
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Stakeholder Relations

The success of large infrastructure or transformational initiatives relies heavily on engaging effectively with key stakeholders. Ward and sister company OnwardU help clients create comprehensive, robust stakeholder relations programs that build relationships with those who are impacted or have significant influence over your organization’s initiatives through:

  • Strategic planning
  • Identifying target audiences
  • Developing messaging
  • Engaging stakeholders
  • Building support
  • Nurturing relationships
  • Community relations
  • Facilitated community meetings
  • Media relations
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Speaker Training

Sometimes an organization’s greatest thinker is not the organization’s greatest orator. Clients employ Ward’s sister company OnwardU to conduct Speaker Training on an individual and group basis for:

  • Analyst presentations
  • Keynote speeches
  • Media interviews
  • News conferences
  • Panel participation
  • Sales presentations
  • Workshop presentations
  • Trade show talks
  • Customer and prospect Lunch ‘n Learns
  • Trade show presentations
  • Employee Town Hall and annual meetings
  • Division leadership presentations to headquarters and senior management
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Special Events

Truly Special Events appeal to audiences’ interests and live long in their memories as positive interactions with their hosts. Since our founding in 1990, we have produced events large and small including:

  • Anniversary celebrations
  • Employee parties
  • Festivals and celebrations
  • Grand openings
  • Groundbreakings
  • Media tours
  • News conferences
  • Ribbon cuttings
  • Trade show hospitality events
  • Traffic builders
  • Product launches
  • Community forums
  • Educational events
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Public Relations Measurement

Public Relations Measurement should be built into every public relations program. PR Measurement Techniques can range from simple feedback mechanisms that link the result to the PR effort to significant investments in cloud-based and server-software PR Measurement Tools and commissioned research, including:

  • Achievement of pre-established goals and intended outcomes
  • Anecdotal data, such as online comments, landing page traffic counts, social media engagement, key message consistency
  • Bounce-back tools, special codes, use of designated 800 numbers and email addresses
  • Capture of new members, new analyst coverage, new customers
  • Qualitative and quantitative research to determine audience impacts
  • Share-of-voice measurement tools
  • Message analysis and scoring
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Issues Management, Responsive Public Relations

Crisis Communications

Crisis Response

You can prevent a Public Relations Disaster with sound Crisis Communication Planning and Response. Among the countless crises – both operational and reputational –we have faced with our clients:
PR-Crisis-Response

  • deaths of management
  • employee fatalities
  • breeches of security
  • unethical and illegal acts by employees
  • wrongful deaths of innocent bystanders
  • environmental incidents
  • threatening and disruptive acts by activists
  • community evacuations
  • personal injury
  • attempted murder
  • Oil & Gas public relations events such as explosions, well blow-outs, pipeline punch-throughs
  • Hotel public relations events such as a drive by shooting, guest room security breeches, disorderly guest conduct, suicides on property
  • financial investigations
  • lawsuits
  • community opposition
  • regulatory breeches
  • kidnapping
  • hostage situations
  • labor strikes
  • allegations of impropriety
  • threats of government shut-down
  • product recalls
  • safety and security lapses

To mitigate the damage of an unplanned event, we provide clients with strategic, cohesive public relations strategies that take into consideration each constituent’s relevance to the issue, and the intended outcome. Ward’s sister company, OnwardU, offers a series of workshops led by experienced crisis communications experts bringing their real-world experience preparing for and responding to unplanned events to your frontline team.

Depending on the nature of the incident, Ward public relations consultants and OnwardU facilitators provide a variety of communication support services to reduce the relationship impacts among key stakeholders, such as:

  • News media and social media monitoring
  • Issues identification and message development
  • Identification of voices of opposition
  • Response strategy development
  • Selection and preparation of spokespeople, including each spokesperson’s role
  • Identification of internal and third-party subject matter experts and allies
  • Rapid-response community blogs to demonstrate transparency and collaboration with affected communities;
  • Coordination with first responders’ public information officers, hospital public relations representatives, legal counsel, HR, etc.
  • Proactive and responsive media relations
  • Internal communication to ensure workforces act responsibly and continue to conduct business, as appropriate
  • Town Hall meetings in public forums
  • Thought leader, grassroots communications
  • Social media management
  • Customer communication
  • Vendor/supplier communication
  • Community relations
  • Key partner, influencer communication

Risk Mitigation and Preparedness

More often ─ partially as a result of increasing and highly vocal public scrutiny and emergency response regulation─ clients request Ward’s and sister company OnwardU’s help to ensure they are equally prepared to deal with the public relations crisis that accompanies the operational crisis.

Further, many senior management teams realize that the next crisis they face may be purely reputational, and their existing operational response plans fall woefully short of preparing management, communications teams and business unit leadership to mitigate the risks with swift, effective deployment of a pre-planned, coordinated response.

However, many must face the harsh and unnecessarily costly realities of their decisions to continue to postpone crisis communications preparedness. These clients hire Ward to help them through a crisis, and afterward request our help to develop an effective response plan, along with the many communications tools they now realize should have been prepared well in advance and at the ready to handle an unplanned event.

Whether the client comes to Ward or OnwardU with foresight or in hindsight, our seasoned public relations experts and facilitators provide the experience and guidance they need with:

  • One-day, facilitated sessions through OnwardU to help management teams develop their customized, crisis communications plan
  • Participation in company emergency response drills, to ensure communications protocols and procedures work well in light of operational response policies and procedures
  • Company Q&A documents to ensure consistency, accuracy of responses
  • Designated spokesperson training
  • Field-level first-responder training to effectively re-direct inquiries to designated spokespersons
  • Subject matter expert training to ensure their preparedness to support spokespersons
  • Gatekeeper training to ensure support and administrative functions properly manage hand-off of media, regulatory and stakeholder inquiries to designated responders

Post-event Recovery

  • Litigation public relations
  • Community relations
  • Employee and employee family communications
  • Safety communications
  • Investor relations support
  • Customer, partner, supply chain communication
  • Reputation management and restoration
  • Employee communications training to improve their effectiveness in meetings, presentations and written communication
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Litigation Public Relations

PR_Litigation-Public-RelationsLitigation PR, or public relations support during lawsuits for both plaintiffs and defendants, helps educate the public about timely issues that have an impact on the community. Typically, we are hired either by law firms representing clients on issues likely to be in the news or needing public attention, or we are retained by corporate general counsel to assist in litigation related to labor, bankruptcy or disputes with customers and suppliers.

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Public Relations Expert Testimony

Occasionally we are called upon to provide Public Relations Expert Testimony in support of litigation related to the public relations industry.

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