Reputation Management: Why brands need good PR
To illustrate: consider sport. In the sporting world, sponsorship is the golden chalice, and a sportsman’s squeaky-clean reputation can pave the way for £multi-million deals.
As we mere mortals can only look upon these god-like beings and their clean-shaven jaws with insatiable envy, clinging to the notion that we, too, may command a lifestyle of opulence and frivolity with the right set of razor blades, the bottom line is this: sportsmen sell stuff.
But in the end, sportsmen are only human. Just like your brand’s shareholders, directors, and employees. And humans are prone to error.
One artificially enhanced toe out of line and it’s curtains. In the space of a just a few days the likes of Nike, Trek, Giro, Anheuser-Bush all cut their ties with the beleaguered Lance Armstrong to the tune of a reported $75m. And, as he woefully acknowledged, ‘it was all gone and probably never coming back’.
So, how can we prevent the same costly fate befalling our own brand?
When a brand communicates a consistent message, they build a level of trust with their consumer, which in turn will boost brand loyalty.
Never underestimate the importance of employing strategic communications professionals. An experienced PR professional will be able to identify exactly what needs to be put out there, when, and how to do it in a way that retains a watertight reputation.
Know your Demons
Anybody who has the authority to make and form of communication on behalf of a brand is a brand guardian. Whether responsible for speaking at press conferences or managing the brand Twitter account, it doesn’t matter. Make sure that you – and anybody else handling relations – fully understand the brand’s strengths and weaknesses. This will allow everybody to work toward a common goal and build a reputation that is resilient.
If you’ve made an error, hold your hands up. Admit that you’re wrong and resolve to improve matters in the future.
Learn from Tesco. When the news broke that their supermarkets had been selling beef burgers containing up to 30% horsemeat, the supermarket was refreshingly frank about its misdoings: clear, honest communication instils faith.
Likewise, if a brand finds itself associated with a falsehood, the last thing it must do is stay silent. As long as it’s conveying the truth, now is the time to vehemently deny any involvement. Otherwise, journalists may interpret ‘no comment’, as ‘we’re not denying anything, make assumptions as you will’.
Know your social media presence.
Know what people are saying about you. If something goes amiss, control the story, take the lead, or respond to a criticism quickly. The online realm is a great place to manage your reputation positively, and has an immediacy that allows brands to connect with their audience on a more direct level than ever before.
Get it right, and you could be the proud face of a solid and respected brand. Get it wrong and everything you’ve worked for to build a brand can be lost in an instant.
This article was contributed by Laura Moulden on behalf of PR Fire: a leading online public relations and marketing service. For more information, visit prfire.co.uk.