By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

The Kaua`i Chamber of Commerce recently presented a rare and interesting opportunity to hear a futurist’s take on what’s ahead for Kaua`i. For years, the business community has been told to “lead, don’t follow.” However, according to Ed Barlow, futurist with Creating the Future, Inc., the new trend will be to align. For the business community this means partnering with other entities to gain efficiencies and enhance customer service. Aligning will not only improve your day-to-day operations, but also provide a priceless PR opportunity.

Whether you call it aligning, partnering, teaming, or collaborating, the important thing is to start doing it. From a PR perspective, it’s essential to do that consciously. Determine why you should collaborate before you choose your partners. The “who” question will be easy to answer once the “why” is resolved. For example, consider your short- and long-term business goals and the barriers to achieving them. What would you need in place to accomplish X? Money? Administrative assistance? Space? Equipment? Information? Whether you want to expand your customer base or add a new service to your offerings, there’s someone out there you can connect with to get it done.

Now choose the best entity or individual to team with. Be creative. Think about whose involvement will help you serve your customers better, quicker, and less expensively. Also reflect on what formal or informal partners share your values and vision, and who will lead the team. Effective leadership will be critical to building trust with your publics.

Once you’ve formed your alliances, PR-wise it is important communicate with your internal and external publics about why you are partnering and how they will benefit. The profit you’ll reap with appropriate, innovative aligning will go further than money or smoother operations. More people will know about your company and its products and/or services, your partner(s) will become your advocate(s), and our community’s resources will be used to everyone’s best advantage.

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