Producing a handbook of Public Relations for the organization is one of the most efficient methods of increasing the quality and consistency of the organization’s communication. There is certainly a handbook of financial operations that is probably treated with a degree of respect by the managers centered on profit. There should be the same status for the handbook of Public Relations. Call it communication handbook if you like, because the managers could think this title is more acceptable – referring to a responsibility they have.
The handbook has a totally different role from the procedure handbook of the department. There is an annex with the organization’s identity:
- It describes Public Relations’ policies and structures;
- It explains what managers are encouraged to do and when they have to check with the center;
- It gives ideas and advice for the managers in their own programmes of Public Relations;
- It gives contact details for the Public Relations team, aiming at help requirements.
The handbook for Public Relations may be a source of ideas, help and encouragement for the managers of the organization to also consider in their plan the Public Relations activities. It may also be a mechanism of control that clearly establishes the areas where Public Relations activities must be discussed with the center. It may establish as well the quality standards for the way in which work in Public Relations is implemented in the whole organization.
The handbook should be edited for all the management members (the leading board), for the chiefs of the big departments and all the general managers. It is vital that a list of the handbook’s addressees should be created and updated. It could be done according to the title and position occupied and it could be included in the handbook, so that the structure of the list and the responsibility for communication and control are clear – and in order to demonstrate that the handbook should stay at that position when the owner of a job changes (each copy could have a number).
The handbook will comprise ideas for programmes, some basic pieces of advice on the techniques, a clear declaration about how to get the support and advice of experts and updated lists of all material available from the center and how managers can have access to it.
Of course, all the declarations of policies included in the handbook must be seen by the executive directors – to show that these policies / ideas are approved by them. An approach could be the discussion of the policies separately and after some time their consolidation in a handbook; this helps at planning the work at the handbook and it is easier to get support and real discussions and involvement than if management is presented a pile of materials, at the same time. Any handbook made without being discussed and approved first has little credibility among the colleagues.
At the same time, the handbook shouldn’t be just a couple of days miracle but a living good for the communication programmes. This will depend on the scrupulous attention to the list of circulation and continuous updating – the contents should stay fresh and relevant for the changing needs of the organization. Creating new sections can do this, from time to time, with the reference information, like the contact lists. There may also be included references to the handbook in other communications of management and by searching feedback on its value.