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Editorial

The Intersection of Public Relations and Customer Experience

5 minute read
Brianna Langley avatar
Can PR and CX work together? We say yes. A symbiotic relationship between these two functions can only enhance the brand.

What happens when customer experience collides with public relations? What would a departmental union like that even look like?

Let's break it down.

When PR Meets CX

At its core, public relations (PR) is all about managing the reputation of a company. It's about crafting and disseminating stories that will either make people want to associate with your brand or run from it. Whereas customer experience (CX), as we know, is all about creating positive interactions between a customer and a business.

Here's the magic that happens when the two join forces: To deliver consistently positive CX, organizations that have a good understanding of the PR landscape fare much better than those that don't. While the PR team is responsible for managing the organization's reputation and building relationships with key stakeholders, CX takes a close-up lens to the same concept by evaluating that same organization's reputation and relationship with customers. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a stakeholder that's more key than the customer.

When these two teams work together, the results are unstoppable.

Related Article: Navigating Your Content Strategies Through Turbulent Marketing Skies

Stories Are the Building Blocks That Create Reputation

For one thing, PR's understanding of branding and messaging can inform CX's analysis of customer feedback and help your CX team develop more solid resolution strategies.

And on the flip side, what's better than a story that highlights your brand? Stories that highlight your customers! PR teams can use customer stories to create compelling campaigns. Which, in turn, only enhances the overall brand experience.

Let’s pause here and take a trip down memory lane. If you’ve been in the communications business long enough, you’ll remember a time when the traditional role of public relations was simply to positively manage a company's image and reputation. However, with the constant rise of new social media channels and the increased importance of customer experience as a key differentiator, PR now must also focus on strengthening a brand's story.

As individuals share their experiences — both good and bad — with a brand, there is potential for those stories to spread much more rapidly than they once did. By collaborating with other departments (such as customer experience), PR professionals can help shape some of these interactions, ensuring that they align with the company's desired brand narrative and, ultimately, enhance the overall story.

In addition, understanding a brand's customer sentiment allows PR pros to create compelling content that not only resonates with target demographics, but also attracts media attention and builds credibility for the company.

In today's interconnected world, public relations and customer experience share a deep need to work together to craft a brand story that is both authentic and inspiring.

Related Article: Is Marketing Missing the Customer Experience Revenue Opportunity?

Crisis Management: PR's and CX's Roles

Another piece of magic that happens when PR and CX meet is born around crisis management.

PR's expertise in crisis communication can help mitigate any resulting negative experiences that may impact your customers, while — you guessed it — CX looks at the long game and provides valuable insights on how to prevent future crises from happening in the first place.

Learning Opportunities

When a crisis strikes, it often feels like focusing on damage control is the only way to go. However, taking a step back and analyzing the big picture can go a long way in mitigating the impact of a crisis. And to do that, you need the complete story that both PR and CX teams can provide.

Public relations professionals can help to accurately communicate the desired narrative and manage media coverage, while customer experience ensures that customers are receiving excellent experiences and having concerns appropriately addressed. (In a crisis, this level of personalized attention alone can go a long way toward preserving customer loyalty and trust.)

Bottom line is this: It's crucial for companies to have both public relations strategies in place and a focus on delivering positive experiences for customers, especially during a brand crisis. When you have collaborative, integrated teams on both sides of that coin, the whole company becomes a well-oiled blocking and tackling machine.

The Art of Building Trust

One more important variable you'll find within the union of your CX and PR departments is a more direct focus on building trust.

For a CX department, it's no longer enough to simply provide a good product or service. Building customer trust is much more nuanced than that and is essential in maintaining long-term relationships and attracting new business.

While excellent customer experiences can certainly contribute to the foundation of building this trust, the public relations team is the department that gets to shape the overall narrative around your brand and effectively communicate your values to the public.

By intentionally aligning your PR efforts with your CX strategy, you ensure that your messaging is consistent and reflects the level of care you provide to your customers. In the long run, this inspires confidence and establishes a strong emotional pull within your consumers that results in even more interactions and partnerships.

In today's age of skepticism and distrust toward businesses, having PR and CX teams work together to build stakeholder trust is crucial for your organization's future success. By bringing these two powerful departments together, organizations can better manage their reputation, enhance customer experience, and, ultimately, drive business growth. 

While PR and CX may seem like separate entities, they have far more in common than meets the eye. And bringing them together creates a symbiotic relationship that benefits the entire organization.

Editor's note: Did you catch Brianna's LinkedIn Live chat Nov. 2 with CMSWire Managing Editor Dom Nicastro on getting executive buy-in on CX? 

About the author

Brianna Langley

Brianna is a CX professional always looking for the best way to drive competitive strategy through engaging customer experiences.

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