Kay Phelps is the consummate PR professional – and she’s increasingly in demand.

Dedicated, respected and with a long career specialising in the HR sector, Kay has worked with some of the world’s largest HR and benefits companies, and her company, PR in HR, is  in such demand that she doesn’t need to advertise – all clients come through recommendation.

It’s this experience that means Kay is being asked to help HR teams communicate, and there are two key drivers – to engage internal audiences better and manage media reputations.

PR and HR are Evolving

24/7 social media and review sites like Glassdoor are giving employees a loud voice, amid a growing worldwide media appetite for stories about employees, perks and interview quirks. HR Managers are inadvertently becoming a key part of supporting the ‘employer brand’, perhaps acquiring it fully or working alongside communications teams. This new function may not have been actively sought out – but it’s a role that HR people are keen to take responsibility for or actively participate in to get the right results.

Kay explains:

“For anyone who doesn’t think HR makes a difference to a company’s reputation, I’d mention some of the high profile consumer brands that have featured negatively in the news recently. There is an indelible impression for some companies based entirely on high-profile negative coverage surrounding how staff are treated.  Meanwhile, others are seen as very desirable employers, thanks to headline-generating perks and positive company and employee communications. These companies attract valuable, positive press coverage which has a huge impact on talent attraction and retention. Reinforcing strong employer branding is proven to reduce employee turnover by 28%. That’s something HR is keen to drive.”

So as well as traditional PR representation, Kay’s now turning her experience to help HR leaders manage internal and external communications in a stronger way.

Communications training for HR Teams

Kay believes that communications training adds value by equipping HR teams to excel at their primary role and empowering them to handle any ‘added’ employer branding responsibilities. Kay explains:

“Clear, concise communications are essential for anyone in an HR role, a fact acknowledged by the CIPD. It’s not just about improving press perceptions of the employer, but also about helping improve HR communication. I help HR people to ‘own’ their communication, so they sound clearer in every interaction,making their points to different audiences, internally or externally.”

Training feedback from an Imperial College participant sums it up:

“I enjoyed the training session; it gave me an opportunity to think about communications, goals, engaging others and working as a team – as well as being a good opportunity to listen to my colleagues’ ideas and perspectives.”

While Kay believes she is the only communications trainer that understands HR nuances and issues so can directly support the HR teams, she expects to see more deliberate PR and HR collaboration going forwards. Some brands are already leveraging HR issues for massive PR gains.

The impact of issues like gender equality on employer brand

Car manufacturer Audi used the Super Bowl to run an ad that focused on gender pay equality. The media attention the ad created ensured the brand was talked about for days – doubling the value of the prestigious advertising slot – while cementing the company’s reputation as an equal opportunities employer. Kay says:

“PR and HR are a natural fit, and the two disciplines have much to learn from each other. While one knows what the media wants and how to communicate, the other knows employee and employer needs.“

In a talent-driven market, employees want to work for companies with a strong employer brand and increasingly, conscious consumers want to support companies with a strong employer brand and ethical work practices. Companies who get their HR right can leverage that in their communications – while attracting and retaining the best talent.

Communication skills training adds huge value to the HR function, raising their profile as the link between the boardroom and their employees. That isn’t just good for PR and HR – it’s good for business.

To learn more about HR Communications Training Courses, visit Kay’s website: https://www.prinhr.co.uk/hr-training-2/