The 5 Secret Ingredients Needed to Build a Great PR Team Finding the right PR strategy for a business can be challenging, as not all company's needs are the same. Here we offer a few pointers on finding the ideal PR team for your business.

By Craig Cincotta

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Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a startup working out the basement, every business has a story to tell.

When a company is ready to create and tell its story, it is essential to have a top-notch PR team. But what makes a great PR team? One that can help navigate a company forward.

For those just starting out, here are the five secret ingredients that a great PR team should possess.

1. It's all about the people. To build a great PR team, you need great people. This comes from playing with the dials and finding the right mix of subject experts.

For example, at Porch, a home improvement network, we built our team in-house with a focus on very specific talents. We have former journalists, former writers, and graphic designers with a mix of backgrounds and subject matter expertise. We encourage everyone to leverage their super powers but also coordinate and collaborate with others.

For people looking to hire a PR agency some different rules apply, but the outcomes are the same (finding great people). Look for people who have expertise within your field, have strong relationships and most importantly, understand your business. They need to clearly comprehend your objectives, and the value your products will deliver to customers. You will also want to find out if they work with any or your competitors to ensure there are no conflicts of interest.

2. Determine your story. Every company has a story. Different from a tagline, motto or mission statement, a story is what gets people to take notice. It is what makes your business unique and endearing. The outcome for any business should be to create great products for its customers. But what stands behind it all? Who are the people? What are the challenges? What was the discovery process like? How do customers feel when they use your product? The list goes on and on.

Curiosity is king and the more questions the PR team asks about your business, the more interesting the story will become. Leaders should encourage their PR team to ask questions. On the flip side, as company leaders and contributors discover answers to hard questions that spring up during the day-to-day journey of a business, they should funnel them immediately to the PR team. Often times the answers will reflect the true heart and soul of the company. If you can capture those moments you are well on your way towards creating an authentic story that will help establish an emotional connection with your customers.

Related: Taming Online Customer Bullies, Cranks and the Like

3. Don't live on PR island. PR is far more than a vehicle that creates awareness at the end of the production line. Great PR teams are woven into the fabric of the business from day one. The team should be integrated into the long-term product plan of the company to ensure the product and business story are aligned. To do this effectively, PR leads should spend a good amount of time with the engineering, design and development leads of the business. Some of the best stories will come from those who are closest to the product.

Every company has hidden treasures and nuggets of information that are ripe for storytelling -- and they need to be mined. By talking to different people in different positions the PR team can capture new and imaginative ways to tell the company's story. If a PR team seeks out colorful personalities, people with diverse perspectives on the business and people who work "behind the scenes," the results of those interactions often create a catalyst for unlocking unique stories.

4. Have the right story in the right place at the right time. When and where to share your story is one of the most important decisions a PR team will make. There is no such thing as a "sure thing," but you should never be throwing darts at a board. An effective PR team will do their homework and spend a good amount of time understanding your industry and its influencers. Who will be interested in what you have to say? What trends interest them? What types of questions will they ask? What types of medium do they use, do they prefer infographics or videos? The more you understand your audience, the better you can help them understand your story.

5. Listen as well as you hear.
In many instances the PR team will be the front lines to receive customer feedback. Feedback from press, analysts, bloggers and other types of influential often reflect the feedback they are getting directly from their readers (aka your customers). Don't turn a blind eye to this feedback. In fact, the PR team should encourage this feedback as it provides vital insights that can be used back in the office to ensure that the products being built are utilizing a customer-centric lens.

Related: The 7 Critical Success Factors for a Services Business

Craig Cincotta

Senior Director of Marketing Communications at SAP

Craig Cincotta serves as Senior Director of Marketing Communications for the Business Network and Applications Group at SAP.

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