Risk: the role for communication


Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom

PR and communication practitioners can derive huge benefits from adopting the principles of project management. One example of this is the area of risk.  Projects also benefit greatly from involving communication colleagues in the risk identification process.

From a project manager’s perspective, risk is often thought about in terms of risk to the project being able to deliver.  This means that reputational risks to the wider organisation can sometimes be missed.  This is where the PR/communication input is valuable.  PR as defined by the UK Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is all to do with reputation:

Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.  Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.

Damage to the wider organisation’s reputation can impact on project deliverables – suddenly there can be angry stakeholders to deal with and the project’s objectives can be questioned. Clearly these wider risks may not all sit on a project risk register and will need to be escalated, but flagging them up means that there should be no surprises for the wider organisation. It also helps the internal reputation of the project to be seen to be thinking at an organisational level.

Wider reputational risk can be spotted during a thorough PEST analysis and a good communication lead will want to start there, but it can be important to look more widely as a PEST may have been done very much with the impact on the project in mind – not the wider organisation.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.



About the Author

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Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom

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Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013.  She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/