Using Public Relations For Strategic Reputation Management
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A good business reputation is based on good PR. The basic values of PR remain the same: honesty, ethics, accuracy, and responsibility. In the current social media climate, a brand’s reputation can be destroyed overnight or–worst case–in a matter of seconds. As a business or as a brand, you may have been exposed to negative online reviews, blog posts, or news stories. For this reason, it’s paramount to consistently and strategically keep an eye on relevant media outlets to proactively respond to a potential crisis situation.
Smart Decisions about Public Perception
The end goal is to improve and/or protect your organization’s public perception. This is where PR and reputation management complement each other. As a PR manager, clients often come to me for help with building and/or maintaining their reputations. With public relations, you can build a strong image and favorable media visibility for the company. Reputation is everything.
Good values and consistent practices make all the difference between success and failure. That’s why corporate reputation management has become a necessary element in business strategy.
Every business, no matter how big or small, must make smart decisions and develop successful communications strategies to keep up with the competition, and for dealing with crises when they arise. Being prepared is the best defense. You are only as successful as your customers’ confidence in you. Consumers will research a brand online, from articles and recommendations to product reviews. The better the brand’s reputation, the easier it will be for the consumer to eventually take that step to purchase that product or service.
That is why a business needs to focus on its online presence and reputation, since that is where today, more than ever, you can find your potential customers. If your brand or company is authentic, honest, and socially engaged, your loyal customers will believe in your mission statement, the values you put forward and they will vouch for you. Essentially, by creating a good reputation, you create an emotional bond with your target audience, customers, and stakeholders. If you are consistent in showing and communicating who you are in a relatable, convincing, and sincere way, you will be set up for prosperity.
So, how does PR help with establishing and/or managing your company’s reputation?
Be Proactive in a Crisis
The golden rule is to be proactive long before a crisis happens. Always try to be five steps ahead of potential PR threats. Manage and polish your reputation through social listening, digital storytelling, and customer relations, and getting your customers involved. When customers and employees feel valued and empowered, your business stands out, and customer loyalty increases, leading to repeated purchases, increased brand ambassadors, and an overall positive brand image. Take control, share content and knowledge about your business or market by creating in-house content: Blog posts, social posts, tweets, graphics, videos, or infographics. This is not only a positive way to get into the spotlight but also an unequivocal step to positioning yourself as a knowledge leader.
Involve Your Community
Engaging your community is just as important. Give back and build a positive and authentic presence. This is an excellent way to make your company valuable and express appreciation for the business’s local community. Be part of the conversation. That way, the local community will feel heard, respected, and supported. Mentorship, volunteering, sponsoring events or programs, and donations are all good ways of getting the company involved and making a difference in people’s lives.
People trust established and recognized brands. As a brand or business, you have a clear vision and a mission statement. At least, you want to let your target audience know that you have a solid identity. Customers choose you over the competition and favor you for your uniqueness. Dare to carry these values forward. Stand for something meaningful, make a statement, be inclusive and join the social conversation. Standing up for your point of view is exactly what reputation management is all about. When your (potential) customers see that you feel strongly about something, they will connect on a more emotional, personal, and profound level.
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Monitor Your Business
Protecting your (online) reputation is key. It is strongly recommended to use a media monitoring tool and a clipping service daily. This way, your team will be alerted immediately of mentions about your business or industry happenings so that you can set up benchmarks. Monitor sentiment, number of mentions, and trending topics. Listen to the positive sentiments, respond to compliments, and share those positive tweets or reviews. If you see more negative brand mentions than usual, then this is a sign that something is wrong and that you have to take action. Monitoring your brand mentions helps you detect important warning signs at an early stage, so you can take the bull by the horns and prevent a potentially damaging PR situation.
Create Engaging Content
The media is your ally! Having an effective communication strategy in place that covers every aspect of the company’s reputation is essential. Your PR team needs to not only oversee the published content but also create high-quality press materials authentically and creatively to draw the press’ attention. Reporters have a busy inbox, and it’s the PR team’s job to make sure your company stands out. Write press releases about pivotal moments, address innovative articles, interview your CEO about issues that will raise awareness, and create resourceful story angles to give your company greater visibility and credibility. Investing in public relations, communication, and marketing, will help your company build the relevant positioning and brand reputation it deserves and needs.