What is Lean PR?

31/08/2011
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Let’s say a big thanks to Toyota, the Japanese car manufacturer. Thanks to them we have a concept that was first coined in 1988 by John Krafcik, a former Toyota employee and scholar – lean manufacturing. Essentially, lean means anything that helps you create more value with less time and money. How can we apply this in PR?

According to Wikipedia lean is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. In PR, our customer is our public. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service - in our case a message - value is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for / listen to.

Hard to apply this concept in an industry where the key headache is measurement? For sure. However, Wikipedia continues by saying: lean is centered on preserving value with less work. An essential trend that emerged with the growth of the Internet and social media is the return of public into public relations. Actually, of publics – for the public attention has never been more fragmented than today. What once was considered PR – media relations – now needs to integrate all forms of communication to make sure the message reaches all the company publics in the best possible way. On this market lean PR leads to a profound reconsideration of the ways how a company interacts and communicates with all its publics.

Historically, lean manufacturing involved seven sins that, when removed, release a large quantity of energy for the company that can be put at work to create value for the customers. These are: transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, over-production and defects.

When a PR person considers his or her own communication strategy, we can also identify seven sins that, when eliminated, can take a company’s PR efforts to the next level.

  1. Strategy. Is your communication strategy in perfect synchronicity with your business goals? If not, why not? Whose mindset needs to change in order to achieve that?
  2. Process. Are your communication processes lean and clear for everyone? How can you cut down on the time in-between an idea and the moment you communicate it with your audience?
  3. Utterance. Is your message lean? Are you saying what you do simply and clearly enough? Aren’t you publishing more noise than what your customers want?
  4. Brake = are you acting fast enough to reach your public under any circumstances?
  5. Leverage. Do you do enough to leverage on your ideas, success and great things your company does to make this world better?
  6. Inventory. Are you getting the best out of all your people, communication team, employees, management and other potential ambassadors?
  7. Channel. Are you using the right communication channels to reach your publics?

When you consider all that, you end up with S-PUBLIC or PUBLICS, where strategy and understanding the needs of all your different publics can make or break your communication strategy. This is the essence of lean PR – going down to your core to get rid of noise so that you can communicate better, leaner and more efficiently. Crisis or no crisis.

I focus on strategic communications, emotional and systemic intelligence and personal and organization leadership. I help leaders and future leaders to develop their strategic communication skills, to build reputable personal brands and to boost their team and organizational leadership. I support individuals, teams and organizations through advisory, training, coaching and mentoring services.

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