Communication is the Pulse of Life!

Posts tagged “Communications

Ethical Advertising: Does It Pay to Do Good?

 

ethical ad.png

Advertising is an important facet of business. Businesses are in the game to earn profits and advertising helps with just that – bringing the products to a wider reach by capturing the interest of target audiences. Advertisements have a heavy responsibility – they affect the daily lives of people who watch or read them. However, businesses need to be ethical in their advertising. An ethical company is likely to be viewed more positively. That’s because they have to keep an ethical promise to their customers.

Missing The Mark?

Even though businesses know what it means to be ethical, there have been cases of renowned companies making blunders in their advertising efforts.

Deceptive Advertising and Misleading Claims

If any advertisement makes unsubstantiated claims, then the intention is to mislead the public, and it becomes unethical. Such an advertisement usually creates or takes advantage of, or substantially interferes with the ability of people to make rational consumer choices.

Of course there is a fine line between exaggeration and deception. When an advertisement claims that “You’ll be walking on heaven”, it obviously does not expect readers to take that literally because the rational individual is able to discern the truth.

However, if an advertisement pitches your pill as one with “No Cholesterol!” but the ingredients listed on the back leaf show high sodium content, then that is considered deceptive advertising.

Immunity.pngKellogg’s Rice Krispies

An example of deceptive advertising would be that of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. The brand came under fire in 2010 for misleading consumers about the product’s immunity-boosting properties. The Federal Trade Commission stepped in and ordered Kellogg’s to stop all advertisements carrying the immunity-boosting claims. As a result, Kellogg’s had to pay $2.5 million to affected consumers and donate another $2.5 million worth of Kellogg’s products to charities.

Kelloggs .pngKellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats

Kellogg’s got into trouble again in 2013 when it falsely claimed that its Mini-Wheats “improve(d) kids’ attentiveness by nearly…20%.” As a result, the company had to settle a $4 million claim for false advertising.

Irrational Persuasion

It is the manipulation of feelings or interests of a target audience.

Advertisements push our buttons with celebrities, sex and success. They disable our rational mind and appeal to our feelings and emotions. They exploit deep-seated emotions the target audience might have: the need for security, acceptance and self-esteem.

McDonalds Ad.pngMcDonald’s Advertisement UK

McDonald’s seemingly harmless Filet-O-Fish advertisement caused massive backlash and debate online when it was launched. In the advertisement, a mother tells her son about his late father and to his disappointment, they shared little in common. It was only after his mother took him to McDonald’s and he ate a Filet-O-Fish burger that he found out he shared the same taste as his father (it was his father’s favourite burger). McDonald’s was taken to task for creating an advertisement that exploited child bereavement. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK received about a hundred complaints and only then was the advertisement withdrawn.

Fear As a Motivator

Advertising agencies frequently use fear tactics. It becomes unethical when it is without proper justification. If fear is used for the good of the consumer and society at large, then the use of fear is justifiable.

Smoking .png

In the case of anti-smoking campaigns, a label carrying the words “Smoking Kills” on the box uses fear as a tactic to motivate smokers to stop smoking, for their own benefit and health.

Drink Driving .png

Also in the case of anti-drinking and driving campaigns, the use of fear is meant to stop or condemn drink driving, while highlighting the possible risks.

Many companies, however, employ fear tactics for the wrong reasons.

Nationwide Insurance Ad.pngNationwide Insurance Advertisement

The Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company released an advertisement in 2015 which features a boy reciting all the things he would not be able to accomplish in life and goes on to say “I couldn’t grow up, because I died from an accident.” The advertisement shows horrific images of accidental child death scenes like poisonous chemicals and shattered TV screens. It goes on to say, “At Nationwide, we believe in protecting what matters most… your kids. Together, we can make safe happen. #makesafehappen”

This is an example of unjustifiable fear, wherein the advertisement induces people to buy the insurance by depicting how horrible the lives of their children would be if left uninsured.

Promoting Unethical Behaviour

Unethical advertisements are also those that promote unethical and immoral behavior. An advertisement by Reebok had a headline that read “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” People were unhappy that the advertisement was unethical as it encouraged infidelity.

Reebok Ad.pngReebok Advertisement

So… What?

Ethical Advertising

Ethical advertising is critical. Consumers are more socially aware and increasingly demand for businesses and products to be more ethical in production and advertising. When any company is perceived to lack in ethics in any aspect of their business, they lose credibility from consumers, resulting in a tarnished brand reputation.

Be Honest

As obvious as it sounds, to be ethical in advertising, one needs to be honest and promote a given product or service without lies or deception. Ethical advertising tells the truth and never hides any of the product specifications or its defects. Ethical advertising is also free from any deceptive or misleading claims, irrational persuasion and using fear as a motivator.

Social Consciousness

To be ethical in advertising is to avoid appealing to deep-seated emotions and unavoidable needs of the target audience. It is objective and unbiased, and does its best to live up to its social responsibility mission.

Environmental Consciousness

Ethical advertising also comes in the form of protection of the environment and preventing harm to the environment. Unethical advertisements do not show consideration for the environment and also promote environmentally destructive behavior.

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

 

Advertisements

Conquering the Value of Reputation

Value of reputation - Lincoln

When facing challenges presented by the current economic context, the response of the companies with a certain degree of resilience was swift. They adapted their strategic positioning and searched for opportunities abroad.

Proof of this tendency to conduct business outside in order to balance deficiencies encountered in one’s own market can be found, for example, in the values for Portuguese exports of goods and services in 2013, which surpassed national and international forecasts.

The role of marketing in this evolution plays a key role when one considers the necessity for creating a reputation that acts as an element of contact between one organization and its key audience.

It is this vital character of the concept of reputation, more than simply talking about brands, which we should focus on, with the objective of maintaining an effective positioning when facing those we consider as our target audience and partners in the implementation of a successful strategy.

As a differentiating asset in a market with goods and services sharing identical characteristics, an organization’s reputation becomes the reason for being the preferred choice among consumers, for projects being approved and for renewed notoriety. For companies searching for new opportunities, reputation becomes an assurance factor enabling them to develop a profitable commercial strategy and implement projects in an agile and effective way.

It has become imperative to develop the image we present to those outside the organization. Despite the critical factor of the solutions we offer, transforming them into a link to an idealized communication guarantees that these acquire a double role.

This shift in attention from branding, the logo and the image means relegating support role elements that do not have a direct influence in creating an objective and clear reputation. With clearly defined positioning, the next step becomes one of consolidating a certainty in the mind of the consumer: a brand is a promise. Answering adequately to market expectations in what regards this promise is a fundamental condition necessary to create an idea of reputation within our audience.

More than ever we need to think in the long run, focusing on resilience and on our link with the market. Here, the value that reputation acquires is highlighted as a crucial element in a wider communication strategy, with the objective of transforming the organization into a recognized and readily accepted brand by its targeted audience.

Guest Blog by Marta Gonçalves, Managing Partner, Say U Consulting and member of the Evoke PR Network.


The Art of Winning Hearts (and Dollars)

Authentic

In this age of faceless interactions and digital transactions, is it any wonder that we keep yearning for something real, something genuine? In the world of marketing, when it comes to choosing brands, it’s no longer just about a service or product – it’s all about that authentic, personal experience that we seek.

Yet, authenticity is a word that is bandied about, often too casually. What does it really mean? And how can companies be convincingly genuine and transparent?

Findings in the Journal of Business Research distil this fuzzy concept into three attributes that consumers value most: heritage, sincerity and dedication to quality. While the third component is straightforward enough, businesses tend to flounder when it comes to delivering sincere messages or incorporating roots into their core values or vision.

At a time when transparency scandals seem to dominate headlines, and clarity and commitment are at a premium, successful brands stay ahead by being open and honest, displaying empathy, and fostering meaningful relationships with consumers across varied platforms.

Under the Right Influence(r)s

The prevalence of social media makes it easy for consumers to quickly obtain information and form opinions on brands. More and more partnerships also occur on these channels, with brands investing in influential individuals to promote their offerings.

While this marketing strategy isn’t new, astute brands increasingly seek authentic collaborations that maximise their credibility. Micro-influencers, in particular, have become favoured brand ambassadors on social media. Businesses find value in their smaller follower count (ranging from 500 to 10,000), and their closer relationships to their tight, niche communities of committed followers. For companies, this means better engagement with hyper-targeted audiences through a trusted individual.

When businesses successfully align themselves with influencers that are genuine fans of their brand, they benefit from authentic recommendations, increase their presence online (sans the hard selling!), and build a consumer base by conversing with the people who really matter to them.

Your Magic Affinity

Today, more than ever, consumers are inclined to put their money where their heart is, supporting brands with which they share common values. In the polarised climate we live in, remaining silent on larger social, political or cultural issues is difficult (and perhaps, even inadvisable).

Social responsibility continues to gain momentum as companies look to connect with conscious consumers on an emotional level. Taking up a meaningful cause not only sets businesses apart, it also helps to establish credibility and trust through positive associations with the brand.

But wanting to do good can sometimes go wrong – when businesses appear less than informed about the causes they support, they can come across as tone-deaf or inauthentic. To ensure legitimacy and resonance, companies have to understand the issue and their relationship to it. Ideally, consumers should be able to draw connections (almost immediately) between the issue and the company’s core beliefs or vision.

Stand for issues that make most sense to your brand. When your social causes are communicated effectively and sincerely, you nurture brand affinity, build a community around your brand, and are likely to retain loyal customers for longer.

Transparency is the New Currency

Open and honest communications are key to building trust and ultimately, brand loyalty. Consumers appreciate being given insight into the processes that take place before their purchase, and continued efforts to keep them informed. By educating consumers and being visible in their operations, companies demonstrate their genuine commitment to the customer.

One great example is Mars’ announcement to distinguish food products into “everyday” and “occasional” items on their packs and website, as part of an initiative to promote healthier food choices. While the move was deemed unusual, it nevertheless communicated Mars’ sense of responsibility to its consumers.

In times of crisis, honesty and authenticity become even more crucial as consumers want to be assured that problems are being addressed ethically and transparently. Rapid, informative responses, regular updates across all platforms, and sincere acknowledgement of mistakes (and a clear willingness to learn from them) will help alleviate fears, restore confidence, and show a commitment to upholding the trust the company has built.

Once embedded into a brand’s culture, operations, and mission, authenticity can positively influence customer experience and perception – and this will pay huge dividends in the long run.

Posted by Rahimah Amin, CorpMedia


Ready or Not, Here Comes 2018!

get-it-right-e1512111093421.jpg

The end of the year marks a threshold and invites a pause for reflection. It’s a great time to take stock of the year behind and look ahead. For CorpMedia, it’s been quite a ride! New challenges, new opportunities, new clients, new friends – we feel very blessed to be able to help our clients with creative ways to communicate their brand(s) and grow their business – by simply doing what we love!

But enough about us! Now, it’s all about getting ready for a brand new year. For most of us in the business, it’s communications planning season! Before you hit the road, en route to the month-long festivities and merriment, here are some end-of-the-year tips to make sure your 2018 plan hits the mark – and we will keep this short!

Future-proof your strategies: The one thing to remember is that while your plan may not be broken, change is necessary to keep up with evolving trends. Revisit old competitors. Explore emerging channels. Consider new technologies. Evaluate your processes and performance. Even small shifts in your communications strategy can benefit your business in a big way.

Listen to social conversations: Social media offers easy access to people’s opinions and behaviour. By intently following what your ideal customers are talking about and who they are interacting with on social media, you can gather a plethora of knowledge, such as how they perceive your brand, what qualities they look for in products and services. Social listening allows you to go to the heart of the discussion to hear what people are saying and what they are thinking.

Target your audience: Knowing the audience that you intend to communicate with is important. You can communicate until you’re blue in the face, but if your message falls on deaf ears, you’re just wasting your time, energy and effort. Research your market regularly. Start with the question “Who is my company’s ideal customer?” Be realistic – your customer can’t be everyone.

The right messaging: Today’s customers are just not into “buying things.” They are buying into solutions, e.g. expert advice, knowledge, experience, guidance. Your messaging should reflect this mindset. Are you solving problems with what you’re selling? Are you satisfying your client’s needs? Focus on what differentiates your brand from the competition and you will increase engagement with prospects, strengthen relationships with existing customers, and improve market value.

Set realistic goals: Prioritise and hone in on the two to three goals that must be achieved in a year that will contribute to your business growth and success. Resist the pressure to list anything that is immaterial, cannot be realistically achieved or accomplished. Remember, reality trumps aspiration!

Once you’ve developed your “buyer personas” you can then build your communications plan with purpose and direction, knowing who your target audiences are and how to reach them. Not only will this make your plan an easy sell to your team, it will make the entirety of your year much simpler and successful. With your ideal buyer in mind, crafting content, monitoring social media, conducting media outreach and implementing other communications tactics is streamlined and results-oriented.

After all, that is the kind of value you need to deliver, right?

To sign off, the team at CorpMedia would like to thank you for your business and support. Go out and have fun and close the year with a big bang – you deserve to! And here’s wishing one and all a fantastic new year ahead!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


Seriously….. Are you listening?

listening-cartoon

Social. Okay, social media, got it.

Listening. Hmm… so it’s okay to just sit and listen?

Amid all the social media chatter today, with 500 million daily messages sent on Twitter alone, people are undoubtedly engaging in conversations related to your brand. Are you listening, and if so, how are you responding?

Social media has provided people with the ability to voice their opinion on companies, brands, people – in short, anything and anyone. What people say can be good or bad, but that alone doesn’t determine your social media success. The way your company listens and engages with these social media posts is what dictates how those opinions influence your online presence and brand sentiment.

Social media listening goes beyond ‘listening’ – it’s really about monitoring and managing a brand. Every company strategizes to create content that is engaging, well-written and unique but if you’re not listening to the social conversations happening around it, then you might as well bury your head in the sand!

You may think that you know what your audience is saying and are willing to spend thousands of dollars researching on what you think your audience wants to hear. But, finding the conversations around what you think is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And if you can’t track the buzz, where does your brand go next? Listening, on the other hand, does the research for you.

I’ve finally heard what they’ve got to say.

So I’ll just fix it or respond.

 Whatever you hear doesn’t always warrant an immediate response. Social media listening allows you to hear what’s going on and gives you time to strategize before responding in a timely manner. It’s good practice to anticipate things that could relate to or affect your brand.

And conversations don’t always have to be bad ones; it could direct you to do something you weren’t thinking about. So if there’s an event happening which your brand should be a part of, jump at the opportunity. Start with an event hashtag or by simply retweeting relevant content. At the end of the day, it’s all about reputation management and playing your cards right.

 Ah..I think I finally get it!

Now how do I actually ‘listen socially’?

 There’s no scientific way to tackle social media listening –but there are tools you can use (look out for Part 2 of our blog on Social Media Listening).

When it comes to social media listening, every company will have to adapt and learn.  However, before you embark on your journey to becoming the Social Media Whisperer,  you’ll first have to ask  yourself these 5 important questions:

     1. What is your brand reputation?

Find out what defines your brand and how you want it to be defined. Monitor the names of your company, CEO, and product(s).

     2. What is the reputation of your competitors?

Monitoring your competitors’ conversations with their own communities will help you understand their positioning, and give you insight into their marketing strategy.

     3. Who’s talking, how are they saying it (outlet of communication) and who is leading the conversation?

Get a feel of who’s talking about you and discover the format of communication and style of content being shared. This will help shape your social channel strategy and help you craft channel-specific content that works. Also pick out the conversations that matter.

     4. How should you strategize?

Since you now know what’s going around, write custom content that resonates in the hearts of your followers and your to-be followers. Develop important relationships and act as a catalyst to connect to each other. Add links and other measurables.

     5. Which conversions matter?

Use free and freemium (or perhaps even paid) social listening tools out there that deliver both comprehensive data and insights associated with that data. If your strategy isn’t working, find out why and rework it.

Remember, social conversations depend on social networks. It’s hard to have eyes and ears everywhere, and it’s overwhelming to be listening and monitoring 24/7. While listening, don’t discount anything. If something seems overwhelmingly popular but irrelevant to a brand, monitor it. Find out why before you look the other way.

Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate, PR, CorpMedia


Nonprofit Communications: Surviving the Frontline

Preparing_for_Battle_2_by_d671

In this age of information clutter, the concept of marketing communications for nonprofits seems all too sales-centric and too fuelled by money. Many nonprofits struggle with this concept, asking themselves “Is it too slimy to apply?”

Branding for nonprofits can be a challenge. All we want to do is focus on “doing good” and the last thing we want to worry about is our brand and voice. We are not selling anything so why worry about it?

As much as we would like to deny, the nonprofit market is saturated. With today’s superbly competitive fundraising environment, nonprofits are selling something. They are selling their mission, convincing those with resources to choose them over another deserving nonprofit. It is precisely this that makes communications all the more important to help you to effectively promote your cause.

Naturally, we, as a sector, don’t like talking about competition and certainly not about fundraising as sales. But, if we are going to survive the challenges facing the nonprofit sector, we have to admit that marketing and sales are essentially the same as communications and fundraising. We’re operating our business in a tough world, folks and we’ve got to prepare for the battle.

Brand Building for your Nonprofit

The onslaught of the digital age has put us all on a new footing. As the media environment buckles and shifts, as new forms of technology emerge and mutate, the business, ethical and creative challenges in communications are formidable. How do we connect with audiences who feel there is too much to take in and do anything about when everyone can have a channel with tools that are readily available, cheap and easy to use?

The fact remains: nonprofits have valuable assets to deploy in the digital environment – knowledge and content, trust and brand. They are becoming news and information providers, linking directly to their audiences, building social networks and partnering with different stakeholders.

The Key to Winning

If we continue to get smart together and reinvent our nonprofit organizations to that of communicating organizations, then each of us, in our own way, can help determine the shape of things to come. The key to success is thinking strategically and communicating clearly to stay ahead of your competition.

1. The Early Days of Battle – build your identity and spread your story

Fortify your brand image, communicate who you are and what you stand for, to stand out from the crowd; inspire people and connect with them to amplify your journey towards success.

Update your website and social media pages regularly, convey your BIG Story at community events; send thank you letters; and weave aspects of your BIG Story into your appeal tactics to remind people why they love your organisation.

2. Create a Strong Web of Alliances – focus on your targets

Each organization is fighting for its share of donors and supporters. You must find out what is really important to them. Success stories must connect emotionally and the call to action must be distinct.

Put a face to the problem. Use succinct and compelling messages to highlight your cause, stress the urgency of giving now, why they matter and why you need them. Always keep them engaged and be consistent but different!

3. Tactical Manoeuvring – explore all outlets of communication

Now that you know what you want to say and why, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to broadcast your message. No matter the outlet, there should be a common thread or theme that pulls all of your communication efforts together that embeds itself at the heart of your cause.

Utilize traditional and social media to communicate with your stakeholders. Once you’ve exhausted traditional media, focus on a select few by planning media-free communication activities, such as wall magazines, social dramas and targeted awareness drives.

Just like a battlefield, nonprofit communications should be about achieving change with minimal resources employed. But with the aim of creating social change, at the heart of nonprofit communications lie transparency, consistency and sincerity. So, never plan for a single shot; think of a series of continuous communication activities which should be tied together as part of a comprehensive strategy. That’s the formula to winning the hearts and minds of millions all over the world.

Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate(PR), CorpMedia


Images in PR: 7 excuses and solutions

brocolli

We’ve found there are six main reasons why PR practitioners and businesses avoid using images as part of their communications.

We thought we’d suggest solutions to these problems so you can start creating more vibrantly eye-catching and interesting content.

“Our product is boring. I don’t think it would be a good subject for an interesting picture.”

All the more reason you should use creative images to enliven your communications. Think of Innocent Drinks. Their product is not unique, but their social media content is awash with images that are unrelated to their product but fit with the quirky image they’re trying to give their brand’s personality.

However, if you don’t think this would work for your brand then you should consider thinking about how you can create an emotive or humorous image in some way connected to your product. Look at this humorous example for Webroot Internet Security.

Another tip is to write down your headline. What first comes to your mind when you read it? Have you used a metaphor? It’s often easier to match a picture to a headline than the whole story.

“Professional photographers are too expensive; I can’t afford to pay for photographs to accompany every press release I send out.”

Professional photographers might not be as expensive as you think. If you plan wisely, you can get a lot for your money.

Rather than hiring a photographer on an individual campaign basis, consider making a list of all the campaign activities you will have in upcoming months so you can think about the images you might like to accompany your documents.

It is much cheaper to hire a photographer for a whole day and take a wide range of shots to build your photo library. This collection of photographs can then be shared with your whole team so they can have easy access to photographs when they’re creating documents and presentations.

“We’re a small company we can’t afford fancy digital cameras, never mind a photographer.”

Don’t underestimate the power of your smartphone or tablet. The number of megapixels on these devices is equivalent to the digital cameras people were investing in only a few years ago. Also the quality of apps, such as Instagram, is continually improving.

Though the images these devices produce might not be of high enough quality for printed materials, they can certainly be used across social media and in blog posts.

“I take terrible photographs; they really wouldn’t be publishable.”

There are two websites worth checking out if you would like to improve your photography.

Writer and designer Adam Dachis has put together a comprehensive guide on Lifehacker that includes a number of lessons for use with digital cameras.

Expert Photography provides a thorough Beginner’s Guide to Photography and more than 250 other articles to help you improve your skills whether you are shooting with a camera or a phone. It’s definitely worth a read.

“I can never get my photographs the way I like them. I would have to buy expensive and complicated editing software or pay someone to edit them for me.”

Photoshop is the undisputed king of photo editing. However, it’s notoriously complicated and expensive. If you don’t want to fork out a whole heap of cash there are great free alternatives.

The best options we’ve come across are getpaint.net and gimp.org.

According to PCMag.com: “Paint.net lives in an interesting space between very basic image manipulation applications like Microsoft Paint and robust big guys like Photoshop.”

Gimp.org is a credible competitor to Photoshop, and it’s free. You can combine it with Photoshop plug-ins should you feel the package is not extensive enough. Read Brighthub.com’s review for details.

If you’d still rather use Photoshop but don’t want to pay for the full package, try Photoshop Elements. It’s a basic version of the full package at a fraction of the price.

“I am unsure of copyright laws so I would rather avoid using other people’s images.”

The Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act of 1988 is notoriously complicated and extends to more than 300 sections. Therefore, you should avoid using other people’s photographs unless you are absolutely certain you are not infringing any copyrights.

When you need an image in a hurry, it’s tempting to jump onto Google Images, do a few searches, and see what catches your eye. Of course, many images will be copyrighted. To find images you can freely use, use the advanced search and tick the use rights option that says, “free to use or share, even commercially.” Even then, please credit the original photographer.

The same applies with Flickr, the world’s largest photo-sharing site. Go to the advanced search and select “Creative Commons: find content to use commercially.”

“I find the photographs on these online stock sites are often very cheesy.”

Generally, it’s worth paying for stock photography, although it’s true you have to look hard to find shots that aren’t bland, generic, or cheesy.

There’s a knack to searching on these sites. Try to think of conceptual search terms that go beyond the obvious. You might, for instance, look for metaphors from nature or perhaps the arts.

As with most things, you tend to get what you pay for. Take a look at sites such as Alamy, Shutterstock, iStockphoto, and 123RF, and find the cost/quality ratio you are comfortable with. If you want to buy photos and use them without restrictions, make sure you search for “royalty free.”

So, these are just some solutions. What do you think? Perhaps you have some of your own tricks to add. Please let us know in the comments below.

By Adam Cranfield, CMO, Mynewsdesk. A version of this story first appeared on the company’s blog.


Breaking Bad – Turning Negative Publicity Around

Image

A well thought out and executed PR campaign is critical to successfully launching a product or business. Do it well and a PR program can help create awareness, drive initial sales and create lasting excitement.  Do it wrong and you waste a whole lot of money, and risk damaging a product’s reputation for success.

Case in Point: Abercrombie & Fitch made the mistake of insulting their market when they attacked Jersey Shore’s “The Situation.”  What’s even worse – they wanted the star of the hit reality series to stop wearing their clothes!  Really!  If you’ve ever walked past an A&F store, then there is no mistaking as to who shops there – cool cats and party girls, aka the MTV generation.  While A&F thought they were being clever by insulting the beloved TV star, it turned out to be a huge PR disaster.  A&F’s stock fell 15% as a result of the PR stunt, proving that biting off the hands that feed you is not very smart.

We all know that publicity is what a company receives when something notable happens.  When the event is good, the publicity usually attracts new clients and gives the company something to brag about. On the other hand, there’s also the dreaded negative publicity. Unlike the positive feeling brought about by good publicity, negative publicity can leave the company and the public feeling badly.

Most of the time, bad publicity is unintentional. A company does something they think is positive and end up getting a bad reaction. Other times, the negative publicity comes from a competitor who makes an effort to create bad news about you or your business.  When that happens, don’t fret.  Take a deep breath.  Know that like everything else in our lives, there are ways to turn the negativity around.

Create a response strategy

Turn a bad customer review into something positive by creating a response strategy. Whenever possible, reach out to the customer first, address the issue, and work towards an amicable solution. A bad review is a great opportunity to internalize important customer feedback and develop your business.

Tackle negative press head-on

Stay on top!  Look out for trends in the bad press, so that you’re always prepared should (touch wood!), something bad happen to you or your business.  Where possible, address the bad press and share your sincere attempts to remedy the issue. We all make mistakes – so own up and take responsibility. It’s what you do after the mistake that matters. Businesses that project an image of integrity and honesty are usually businesses consumers want to support.

Respond quickly but thoughtfully

When things go wrong, a day is too long. Be aware of the phenomenal speed at which information spreads, especially via social networking sites, and take quick action to counter bad publicity. For example, if there’s a glitch in the software you’re launching, don’t wait for user complaints to spread virally.  Instead use online forums to alert them and explain what you are doing to address the problem. It shows customers, suppliers and other stakeholders that you are taking your responsibilities seriously and it also helps to defuse a situation before it gets too out of hand.

Stand up

Don’t be afraid to counteract inaccuracies. For example, if you are aware of a Twitter campaign against you, tweet your version of the story. Contact editors if incorrect information has been published, and use your own website and social media presence to dispel misconceptions.

Keep calm

Easier said than done, you might say.  But as PR practitioners, we know that it is essential to keep a level head in the face of a firestorm.  In case of a bad online review, sometimes we need to take a step back and remind ourselves that we can’t please everyone all of the time. Take the opportunity instead to fix something that may be wrong with the business.

Launch a positive campaign

Bad PR doesn’t have to stick in everyone’s minds; it can be replaced by positive thoughts of an organization.  Take action and go on a positive press campaign. Issue a press release about the good things your company is doing, for example, supporting a charitable cause. Go a step further – get your happy customers to go online and write reviews and before you know it, people will start thinking positively about your company again.

While it may seem impossible to get over negative publicity, there are ways to turn things around and manage the situation. The first step is not to panic. Figure out the source of the negativity and see if you can diffuse the situation. If it’s serious enough, you may need to consult with your legal team. Once you’ve started to quell the flames, it’s time to rebuild your image and get the public to forget. Eventually, a new scandal or interesting story will emerge that makes your bad publicity old news. Once that happens, focus on moving forward and preventing negative publicity in the future.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media


Reaping the Rewards of Research

The benefits of incorporating market research into communications strategies have been well documented, but market research deployed without well-defined goals produces little result. Fewer areas of communications have more clearly defined targets than PR: we are looking specifically for the number of press hits, positive mentions, and people influenced. With the evolving market conditions as of late, throw in customer engagement into the mix as well!

No matter the case or time in space, PR and market research are a perfect fit. Properly conducted market research can provide invaluable insights into the behaviour, knowledge, and perception of consumers, stakeholders, and external elements that influence our target markets. The results of market research, if used smartly, can be instrumental in defining new communication approaches, writing messaging and strengthening a business’ public relations.

Gathering your Crowd

Choose your target market intelligently and don’t make the mistake of merely taking a stab in the dark and aiming for quantity over quality. By conducting well thought out research into consumer lifestyles, preferences, habits and behaviours (this list is not exhaustive and can be even more detailed or meticulous – the more refined, the better) to ascertain the right target market for your service or product, a good portion of your battle is won.

Once this first step is accomplished, it would then be easier to suss out customer sensitivities as well. With the business arena being the global place that it is today, more thought and attention has to be given to cultural and societal preferences. This has to be taken note of even within the same country, and even more so if the country is a boiling pot of cultures which is pretty much the most nations in the world these days! To be mindful of your customers, both as individuals and as a community at large, would be to assure the effectiveness and stronghold of your PR campaign.

EPSON scanner image

Manipulating your Market

Just as important is to study what the market you intend to dabble in is missing. Identify businesses similar to your own and investigate the strategies they have implemented. This would not be an easy step because, needless to say, competitors would not readily dish out their secrets! So a lot of independent analysis, observation and in depth studies would be involved. Even so, information you have gathered may not be the most accurate! However, this step should still not be taken for granted. Based on the market needs and what you have learnt from this form of research, you can now consider how you can fill the missing links – providing a formative step on determining the basis of your own PR campaign.

Thereafter, you can finally lay out your market research plan. Based on the information you found in the previous endeavours, plan organized activities that are designed to get more specific information that you would require to make your PR campaign as effective and engaging as possible. Read up on existing published information, interview current customers or analyze consumer behaviour in relation to the market you are going to pursue. For instance, if you have discovered that customers are missing a sense of personal relationships and finesse in your industry, you might organize a focus group or survey, or perhaps even both in tandem for a more thorough analysis, to learn more.

Assessing the Aftermath

It is important to remember that research is cyclical and required not just before launching a PR campaign. It is just as crucial to follow up. Given the power shift from the media being transferred onto the customers, privy is now placed on customer engagement. Research has to be done to gauge and determine audience reception, through means of evaluating responses via surveys or interviews or market returns, and the inherent effectiveness of the PR campaign’s intended outcome. This form of research could be one of the hardest as effectiveness has many variables and seeking response from your audience could prove difficult as well. However, it is worth putting in effort at this stage just when it seems all your hard work is done because from there, the necessary steps can be taken to ensure that the PR campaign is working as intended. And if not, amendments or improvements can be made to achieve the desired outcome and reach greater heights.

 

By Yasmin Md Basir, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services


From The Outside Looking In, PR vs Advertising

PRvsAdvertising

When I first started working in this office 3 months ago, I barely understood what the term “public relations” meant. I had no background in communications and only had a slight idea it involved writing – eg, press releases and articles. I knew that unlike advertising, public relations isn’t “selling” anything.

So what is PR, exactly? According to Wikipedia, it is “the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public”. Essentially, public relations is a management tool – for building credibility and allowing companies to evaluate public attitudes, identifying the public’s interest or concern. In times of crisis, PR is used to explain, defend, promote or reveal corporate policies to specific audiences so that these audiences can fully understand what the organisation has to say.

With the internet today, just like everything else – public relations is constantly evolving. Traditional media is being replaced in favour of social media, and why not? It really is having the world at your fingertips, provided your mobile data plan allows for it.

Advertising and public relations are both forms of communications. But there are several key differences between them.

ADVERTISING PUBLIC RELATIONS
The company pays for ad space and time. Coverage in media is not paid for.
Complete control of what goes into the ad. Little or no control over your information is presented, if the media decides to use your info at all.
Since you pay for the space, you can run your ads over and over for as long as your budget allows. You can only submit a press release about a new product/news conference once.
These days, consumers know when they’re reading an advertisement they’re trying to be sold a product or service. When a consumer reads a third-party article written about your product or views coverage of your event on TV, they’re seeing something you didn’t pay for with ad dollars and view it differently than they do paid advertising.
Often appears less credible because viewers, readers and listeners are aware if it comes from an unbiased source. Public relations-based publicity is usually more credible with an audience as it comes via independent media.

Additionally, public relations costs less than advertising. PR involves a mix of promoting specific products, services and events, and promoting the overall brand of an organization, which is an ongoing task. Individual advertisements are sometimes based on a brand but are more often based on a specific promotional message such as a price cut or the launch of a new product.

Do you work in advertising or public relations? Let us know what you think – leave a comment!

By Natasha Samat, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services