Think of your reputation as what shows up before you do. What other people would say or think about you in a room when you aren’t there, or before ever even meeting you. Your reputation is other people’s perception of who you are and should be considered one of your most valuable intangible assets.
Search results are now more likely to define impressions of individuals and businesses before any human interaction. Impersonal, algorithmically ranked pages of reviews, press, pictures, and social media are not only defining our character judgements but also consumer behavior.
The reality is that in today’s world, one misguided social media post can make or break a career, cost you an interview with a prospective employer, or lose you 22% of your business.
If your reputation is one of the most important components about what others think about you, PR can be loosely defined as the management and relationship of this information to the public – and an invaluable tool in helping to craft a positive narrative about yourself or business.
What’s the difference between reputation management and PR? How do I cultivate my business or personal brand? Where to begin?
We sat down with PR Expert, Lacy Jansson from our very own Status Labs to discuss the most relevant and useful FAQs in the sprawling Public Relations landscape of present-today.
How would you define PR?
Traditionally speaking, public relations refers to earned media and the role of communicating an organization of some sort to the masses. Think of a PR specialist as the middleman who tells your story to a journalist and after careful coordination secures you favorable editorial coverage in a third party media outlet. We help shape public perception. There has always been a hard drawn line between PR and advertising, until recently. Now PR encompasses strategies from earned media to paid tactics, from social media to owned media. What once was an industry focused heavily on relationships and convincing journalists a cause is worthy of a few inches of newsprint, PR has opened its doors to digital vehicles like native advertising, SEO, and influencers.
How has social media influenced the Public Relations landscape?
How has social media influenced ANY industry these days? It has added fuel to the fire. It used to be that if you secured your client a big print placement (or ‘hit’ as it’s called in the industry) the newspaper or magazine’s shelf life was always working against you. Once the next issue came out, your piece was seemingly forgotten. Now everything in the media ends up online, and if a story has that “sticky” quality (shout out to Malcolm Gladwell!) then it’s being shared across social platforms and for much longer than your original shelf life. But that’s just skimming the surface. PR campaigns are often measured by social success metrics as communication pros know content on social channels shape public perception, change behavior and move the needle.
Is there a difference between reputation management and PR?
Yes and no. Think of reputation management as the new limb on the PR branch of the communications tree. Still with me? PR and online reputation management, or ORM, have a lot in common and work most efficiently when integrated. PR tends to be very relationship-based and often serves to help companies think up ways to get positively featured in the press. ORM is very tactical, technical and content-oriented. Ideally, a marketing campaign includes both of these services so that a consistent brand message is amplified to the public – both online and in other forms of media. Since online content determines what the public thinks of you, it is a no-brainer to make reputation management a part of your digital PR routine.
What is the biggest misconception about Public Relations?
Probably that it’s unnecessary unless you have a crisis. The best brands have strong PR representation to ensure their message is communicated clearly and efficiently across the proper channels, before a crisis hits. Proactive brand building is crucial in our noisy, often chaotic, digital society.
What tips would you give a company in a full-blown crisis?
Stay. Calm. Don’t. Panic. It’s easy to freak out in a crisis, but the masters of crisis response know to slow down, then speed up. Be mindful of the present situation and visualize the landscape. What you do in the next 24 hours determines if you stumble your way into failure or calmly overcome your crisis.
Why is PR important?
It is so crucial to business! PR is the best way to earn credibility for yourself, company, product, service or cause while gaining positive third party coverage. Working with a PR specialist enables business owners to have trusted consultants at the ready to help coordinate press surrounding an event, publish facts during a social media crisis, and to arrange interviews with journalists whose audience might also be your stakeholders. You gain measurable media coverage and web traffic, increased leads, valuable content and increased share-of-voice.
If there was one piece of advice that you could give to a person interested in PR what would it be?
What does you digital footprint look like? Are you launching a new company or product? Does your company publicly communicate news? Are you active in your industry or community? There’s so much to unveil in order to determine whether a company is a good candidate for PR. Get on the phone with a reputable PR firm and let them know your scenario. It’s never too early to start PR, only too late. Often companies are already doing newsworthy things but don’t realize it can be a catalyst for press. We often help clients brainstorm ways to be worthy for media attention, whether it’s participating in charity events, speaking events and conferences or submitting your company or executives for awards and industry accolades, there’s always something you and your company can do that’s worthy of a press release and/or media attention.
Is there any benefit to working with a PR firm if a company is thinking of launching a new product line?
Yes, of course. We help clients plan product launches quite frequently. We always want to start working with a company or brand a few weeks prior to a launch in order to plan our media targets, messaging and value proposition. There’s so much that goes into a launch campaign that you want your team to be ready once sample requests come in and media start inquiring about interviews.
How can a person or business benefit from a PR representative?
By hiring the experts in every area of a business you truly work on all cylinders. Without a PR person a busy business owner would spend hours crafting messaging, writing pitches, tracking down journalist contact info, applying for awards, keeping abreast of trends and tracking editorial calendars. (Phew!) Most importantly it’s valuable to utilize your PR rep as a trusted resource. While most companies tout that “the customer is always right” we know that we’re acting on our client’s best interest if we advise them against a deal or opportunity that we know is bad for their brand image.
Where do you see PR headed in the future?
PR is constantly changing into different forms. What used to be strictly editorial content has turned into a PESO model where Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned content all meld together under the PR umbrella. Personal branding and thought leadership still continue to be a big focus, but I envision PR will continue to move towards a blend of brand storytelling and influencer marketing.