The Important Role Proactive PR Plays in Brand Reputation Management
By: Stephanie Ceccarelli, VP Public Relations
These days in which negative stories or videos about your company can become viral and spread like wildfire, brand reputation management is more critical than ever. Defined as the process of monitoring how consumers perceive your business and improving your brand’s image, reputation management is often centered around online reviews, social media, and Google. And this makes sense given the prevalence of digital channels used to consume information. However, an argument can be made that reputation management through PR is just as important.
Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Erupt to Implement PR
Most execs do recognize the significant role PR can play in a company’s reputation, but many of them primarily see its value in brand repair, not necessarily brand development. So, rather than build up and cultivate their company’s reputation through ongoing, proactive PR, they wait until disaster strikes and are forced to implement damage control through crisis communications.
There are a few negative effects that come with taking this approach to PR. One being that during a crisis, your company is on the defense and its messaging is reactionary — not exactly the best position to be in when someone is hearing or reading about your brand in the media for the first time. Furthermore, without any prior positive and noteworthy coverage, your company’s brand reputation doesn’t have much to stand on in terms of the goodwill and trust that comes along with the third-party credibility of earned media. Having this foundation is crucial when trying to endure a crisis.
Additionally, in today’s digitally-focused environment, consumers have access to reviews, thoughts and opinions about your company in seconds through social media, online forums, blogs, news sites, search engines, and other Internet sources. So, having a strong online presence that in part consists of positive media clips and branding content (blogs, op-eds, videos) already in place helps with SEO rankings and combating negative reviews/coverage.
Proactive PR Tips for Improving Your Brand Reputation
Keep in mind that an always-on public relations approach does much more than just help withstand a blow to your reputation should a crisis occur. Reputation-building efforts through thoughtfully executed ongoing PR establishes or reinforces brand credibility, elevates a brand’s reputable standing and enables the brand to become a go-to expert and reliable source for the media.
Below are a few proactive PR tips for boosting your brand reputation:
• Implement and promote a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program: Consider implementing a corporate social responsibility program for your company that includes engaging with the local community and non-profit organizations whose causes and values align with your company’s.
Promote this program in the media by spotlighting the difference your company is making and showcasing how your work is transforming the lives of others.
• Position your company as a thought leader and expert: A strong media relations strategy will include ways to establish your company as a knowledgeable and industry-leading expert in your field through major media outlets. This also allows you to foster relationships with journalists, media outlets and online influencers by becoming a credible resource for them. Be sure to pitch angles/ news hooks that are creative and compelling. They should tie into your company’s offerings and/or news while providing value to the outlet’s audience.
In addition to establishing your company as a thought leader through the media, you should also secure high-profile speaking engagements and award opportunities to convey expertise.
• Develop internal communications that motivate employees to become brand ambassadors/advocates: Building and strengthening an excellent brand reputation starts from the inside out, as employees continue to emerge as the most important voice of a company through their interactions with new hires, prospects, customers, client, peers and everyone in between. So, it’s crucial to consider how you’re empowering your employees to amplify your message.
To embed advocacy into your current communication goals, you need to develop an internal communications strategy that focuses on keeping employees up-to-date and engaged with their workplace. This will likely include creating and sharing meaningful and diverse content that piques their interests and entices them to read.
Brand reputation management is critical to growing a business. A positive reputation builds loyalty and increases customer confidence in your brand and product, ultimately driving sales and bottom-line growth. To find out how our PR team can help you manage your company’s reputation, contact us today.