HOW TO: How important is the role of PR in brand management? Very.
If you follow me on Instagram (@kholi), then you know that for #blackfuturemonth, I’ve committed to seeing and serving and acknowledging how long I’ve been using the Internet (AIM, Black Planet, 6CC, MySpace, FB, Tumblr, FB, Twitter, Snapchat - I’ve had a love affair with all at least once in life since I was like 14) to evolve myself and how I build and relate to and serve multiple communities.
I’ve asked folks to send me questions and topics they want information on. But in the meantime, I’ve already begun repurposing some old blog material from a URL I will never ever direct anyone to in life. :-)
Below, is a blog I wrote for BrandingBusiness.com. It was originally titled, “The Role of PR in Brand Management.” I’m going to post the full article for you below. And, some PR + Brand Management tips that I’d add to this post if they were to ask me to write it again.
As a public relations professional, most of my job involves getting my clients in the right place at the right time to garner the best and most appropriate attention possible. I say “most appropriate” because (for reasons unbeknownst to me) there are those who still refuse to accept the fact that not all press is good press. At this point, we’ve seen Fortune 500 businesses, CEO’s, community organizers, political representatives and others fall prey to the woes of inappropriate and just plain poor media coverage. With that said, it is also my job to create, protect, and preserve my client’s brand guidelines at all times.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Regardless of whether you are representing a company or an individual, a huge brand with commercial history or one in the making, there are steps that every PR professional must take in order to maintain the integrity of the client’s brand image. These steps may vary depending on the industry and image your client represents, but there are a few things to remember that can help protect your brand across all spectrums.
NEVER BE AFRAID TO SAY NO.
When considering your client’s brand reputation, I must repeat, all press is not good press. Likewise, all collaborations are not great collaborations. Be sure to consider what media outlets you’re aligning your clients brand with before pitching or accepting a story or feature. In addition, pay attention to brands you associate with your represented brand. Do they share similar goals and visions? Is there a sound, useful reason for connecting a “different” brand with your client? If you can’t answer these questions when considering a press source or collaboration, you should most likely consider saying no to the opportunity.
YOUR CLIENT IS NOT A CROISSANT.
Really. There is no reason to ever let your client appear flaky. Do whatever you can to maintain brand integrity. Let’s say your client is a makeup artist. You and your client have worked hard to create a public brand that stands for excellence in skin care and customer satisfaction. Your client has been marketing her brand hard to make a connection with a celebrity photographer. Jump ahead several months. You get a call from your client saying that she has finally secured a shoot with this photographer and yet she is not entirely prepared. While it is not your job to be an assistant, creative director, and model agent, it is your job to protect your client’s brand. If you allow your client to seem like she can’t follow through on what has been promised, there is potential for word to spread quickly that your client is a flake. While this may not be true, reputation is everything.
SURVEYS ARE YOUR FRIEND.
Want to know how your represented brand is being perceived? Ask around. Surveys can help secure an understanding of just how your brand is being communicated to and perceived by all of your audiences. Ask everyone that matters: customers and clients, press, employees and never be afraid to ask competitors. Compare feedback to internal understanding of brand messaging. Is there a disconnect? If so, something’s not right.
CONSUMER AUDIENCE DOESN’T CARE HOW MANY BEERS YOU HAD LAST NIGHT.
Unless your client’s brand is intended to make frat parties seem cool, the brand’s audience probably doesn’t want to know how many beers, or boyfriends, or arguments our client had the night before. In fact, over-sharing online is the fastest way to ruin brand image. Keep it simple. Stick to key messages and carefully constructed associations. Social platforms can be a great outlet when used correctly. If you happen to get poor press that is featured online, take control. Respectfully ask the web editor to remove the article. If you can’t get it removed, you’ve got access to social media for a reason. Your next step is to quickly address the issue using your brand’s blog and other social media platforms in an appropriate manner. Never disrespect a press source. Never ignore bad press.
IF AT FIRST YOU DO SUCCEED, REPEAT, REPEAT AGAIN.
Great! You’ve got a few good press features for your brand and your social media efforts seem to be going well. What now? Stick to your key messaging. Find creative ways to tell your story to your audience everyday. Use multiple forms of outreach think newsletters, press releases, on-air interviews, postcards, brand paraphernalia. Do whatever it takes to make sure you keep control of your story.
THREE PR TIPS I’D ADD TO THIS ARTICLE TODAY:
The client is not always right. In line with never being afraid to say no (see above tip), I’d add that your client is often the main person who needs to hear a “No.” I am the client of a few different professional consultants - for very good reason. Because I do not have the skills that they do. I hired them for both their skill, and their points of view. Your client did the same with you. If you’re saying yes to everything they want to hear, not giving push back when you know you have sound advice that would uplevel the project, you’re not being a good consultant. If you can’t leave a client giving them work that you would have done/appreciated for yourself, then you need a new/different client.
Sometimes your client is a croissant. I’ve grown a lot in the last few years. Everything isn’t always black and white in terms of my client hopes, beliefs, and/or expectations. Some clients are great clients. Some clients are whack and slack clients. The only thing I can control is how often I listen to my intuition, act on my gut feelings, and represent a client to the best of my ability.
CONSUMER AUDIENCE DOES CARE HOW MANY BEERS YOU HAD LAST NIGHT. The original blog was written before the idea of the “influencer” or influencer marketing or influencer pr was a thing. Today, consumers want more and more to be able to trust the companies that they purchase from. This makes the role of PR in branding and marketing a necessity. The public perception of a brand (or the brand’s reputation) can be about as clean or smart or wealthy or wild or fun or none of those things as it wants to be as long as its core audience - particularly if the brand is selling something - connects with it. Even if what the audience is connecting with is alcohol consumption and partying. This means, the public relations professional and marketing and advertising and sales departments work fairly closely/in tandem to build, grow, and protect personal, corporate, and even non-profit brands.
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