Public relations isn’t your grandpa’s game anymore. Thanks to social media, increasingly advanced technology and 24/7 connection to anyone and everyone, individual’s hold the power to make or break brands that once only belonged to PR firms. And it’s affecting overall communication play book.
Public perception of an organization is determined 90 per cent by what it does and 10 per cent by what it says.
As Daniel Tisch, president and CEO of Toronto-based Argyle Communications, laid out in 8 Lessons from the Global PR Revolution, there are few strategies that we should all be putting into practice.
Audiences hold the power, not organizations
Each and every one of use can shape the reputation of pretty much any business or brand with a simple “like,” tweet, post or comment. And the level of connectivity we have to others just fuels that fire.
“Whether we act as citizens, consumers, investors, activists or employees, we now have the power to shape corporate reputations; we can build up governments or bring them down; we can start social movements in a moment and spread truth or lies, hope or fear, peace or violence, clarity or ambiguity,” says Tisch.
In other words, respect the individual and learn how to interact with your audience – the days of telling them how to feel are over.
It’s all about influence
The old model was about control. Today, it’s more about accepting that you can’t control what others say about you. This takes you message out of your hands, and puts it into the hands or your audience. Is that a bit scary? Yes. Is it a bad thing? No. As long as you stay consistent in your brand and values, hopefully what others are saying about you is positive – and influencing your reputation similarly.
Actions speak louder than words
Speaking of reputation, Tisch quotes Arthur Page, an American PR-industry pioneer, as saying, “Public perception of an organization is determined 90 per cent by what it does and 10 per cent by what it says.”
Every employee is a barometer
How many companies out there have a no business-related social networking policy for their employees? It’s a missed opportunity. Every employee is part of the PR machine at some level. According to a Warwick Business School study, discussed in When Social Media at Work Don’t Create Productivity-Killing Distractions, encouraging social media use among employees led to increased customer interaction and high productivity.
“Smart organizations set guidelines that encourage employees to detect both opportunities and threats, while respecting the organization’s official communication channels. Success demands communicating proactively to employees so that they can understand the context behind organizational decisions,” relates Tisch.
The single best way to engage an audience? Co-creation
How can you get people to buy into your brand? Let them create the content for you. A great example is this Target campaign with real-life students who filmed themselves opening college acceptance letters. It is still promoting the brand but with a message that is end-user generated. According to Ekatarina Walter, When Co-Creation becomes the Beating Heart of Marketing, Companies Win, the companies who do best with co-created content are the ones that interact with the users who are generating the content.
“Bazaarvoice software helps clients create social communities on their brand sites and across all Bazaarvoice clients, product page visitors who interact with reviews and consumer Q&A show a 153% lift in conversion over those who don’t interact with UGC (user generated content),” Walter writes.
Talk about a game-changing PR revolution.