Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Advice Making A Comeback From A PR Crisis

While it's always a relief to be cleared of criminal allegations, for high-profile leaders like Al Gore, an acquittal in the court of law does not imply a similar outcome in the court of public opinion. We tend to remember public figures for their mishaps and embarrassments.
Unfortunately, the media don't always hold an "innocent until proven guilty" stance as they do when allegations first come out. In fact, some of you may have followed Portland, Ore.'s sexual harassment story, but not heard of the city's court decision to close the case. The decision was just not as "newsworthy" as the story itself. 

So how should former Vice President Al Gore go about clearing his name in the "court of public opinion?" Now that he's been officially cleared of charges, and with sour legal issues behind him, he needs to make a major public appearance; a major "softball" interview in a selected media outlet. 

Gore's been cleared in the court of law -- and kudos to his lawyers for that -- but now it's time for his PR game to follow suit. In his interview, he needs to share his bewilderment with false accusations, the harm done to the "Gore" brand, and the harm done to his personal brand, too. Now it's up to Al Gore to go on national TV and make a strong statement for his brand name. 

Individual brands build strong associations in the minds of the general public -- both positive and negative. Al Gore maintained a clean reputation during the Clinton years in the White House. He was seen as the well-focused Harvard scholar and photojournalist that attended the Vietnam battlefields and was later the self-proclaimed "founder of the Internet." 

More recently, however, Al Gore became the "ambassador of global warming," speaking around the world with extraordinary interest and enthusiasm on the dangers of this environmental phenomenon. Now is a critical time to determine his next brand-association. It is up to him to decide where his reputation goes from here. 

Here are some practical ways to recover from a crisis:
1. Break the silence: Strategically attract a top-tier medium for a "softball" interview. This will get the attention necessary to put a positive spin on the resolved case, identify how easy it is to make false accusations, and how baffled you were by the accuser's actions. 

2. Make factual points: For example, the public was not present in the interrogation rooms. Only a few among the media mentioned that the allegedly harassed woman failed a polygraph test or that the case was closed for conflicting details in her testimony. Consider sharing these details to make a basic point of "knowing-the-facts" before making any judgements .

3. Present your new "you": So what's next on your agenda? How will the public benefit from your service to the country, the environment, or any other cause you choose to promote. Make sure the public wants your name to be cleared -- because you act for and represent the public's best interest. Attract sympathy and support showing you're willing to find new energies. 

4. Inspire: The public loves comeback stories, so give them one. Make the private viewer relate to you by telling how this was a learning experience and how we all face ups, downs, and crises in our lives, which only need to strengthen us in our different directions. 

5. Replace the news items under "Al Gore": PR news crises of the sexual kind are particular hard to control and they don't fade quickly. Internet searches will bring up results covering this humiliating topic, but it's only true up until you provide some new items that relate to your true actions. Tiger Woods had to wait to replace his mess with the U.S Open scores and achievements. Your brand is associated with many more aspects of life, giving you the leverage to relate to various issues. Make sure to strategically bring us new news.
It's not easy to recover from a PR crisis, but public figures can apply professional communication strategies to make, and even remake, their positive reputation. Every crisis is also an opportunity.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

How to Tailor Your Own PR: for Small Businesses

By now I’ve come across numerous reasons for companies of any size and structure to engage in Public Relations activity – whether it’s in-house or through a PR agency . Some Businesses are realizing that PR has turned into a measurable and cost-effective practice that translates to sales, while others wish to embark on a periodic reputation and branding track. Whichever objective relates to your current endeavors, there are a number of ways to begin and gain from PR practices that you might want to consider.

I would like to address three major business entities and how they can benefit from tailored-PR. My first advice is to small businesses. Industry statistics show a shift in expenses from advertising and marketing to PR. Not surprisingly, I have noticed newly-coined terms and definitions to this area of practice, such as “converged communications.” It stems from the notion that PR and marketing serve identical goals and, with new media opportunities, these two areas actually share several practices. Analysts covering our industry now state – with confidence – that new media management belongs solely to PR, as well as the evaluation of social media models in online campaigns.

I’m sure you’ve considered this long ago or as a recent initiative, but on some level, you’re convinced that social media is something you cannot afford to pass on. To that end, some thoughts:

PR can essentially get the coverage, targeted audiences, and attention you deserve. What companies refer to as “free media” is actually the PR practice of offering unique angles and the story of you, your company, or your product that can potentially interest readers and viewers alike. Now, with media ranging from broadcast TV to print newspapers, and from blogs to social media, there are several ways to get that PR you seek.

This is an unprecedented era where small businesses don’t have to rely merely on word-of-mouth marketing due to limited budgets. Your small business and entrepreneurial success can get a boost by engaging in low-cost tailored PR.

Website: After launching your website it is important to make it noticeable and search-friendly. Use your field of practice’s key words and repeat them across your website’s pages. This is a basic SEO practice that will benefit your company down the road as people search for your services. Make sure your webpage offers multiple ways to connect with you. Share as much information as you can on what your company is up to, such as a new service or product. Use appealing images and post accurate enticing descriptions.

Facebook and Twitter: Open a Facebook company page. This is where some of the less-official communications take place and where actual leads can grow. Make sure to add images of your products and company. Try to combine multimedia if possible: company brand video clip, product review videos, links to service-related pages from your website, and other sites that fans can find relevant. As for twitter, twitter is like a pet, if you don’t feed it often, it dies. Twitter requires a personal perspective and that means someone needs to post interesting content on it, and regularly. Do not use twitter as a bulletin board for advertising purposes. It is the “water cooler” where people come together to share and “tweet” what’s on their minds. You will be ignored and avoided if you come and shout slogans and ad content.

Blogging: It is a great way to promote your service and website using SEO methods. First, it is interesting to read what you share. This includes your expert tips, insight, and opinion on various issues relating to your business and industry. In addition, if managed properly, your keywords come to play a major role in advancing your searchability online. Whatever it is that you share, make sure to synchronize your website and blog. Make sure each can be accessed from both outlets. If you decide to start a Facebook and a Twitter page, make sure your blog posts appear on both Facebook and Twitter; on the other hand, make sure your Facebook and Twitter page are accessible through your blog. There are numerous apps that automatically synch every post on social media across your channels so you don’t have to feed each separately. Use them.

Media management: If you’ve followed the previous points, you are now ready to invite in external media to check out what you offer. Make a list of media outlets that cover your area of practice. Collect the fax numbers, emails, and phone numbers of contacts within those outlets and update it occasionally. Now, remember this: media management is not about the one-time dance. You will not get the coverage you seek just by sharing the big news. Share the everyday news too. When you reach out to the media, strive to relate to an ongoing story or development that is relevant to your company. With consistency and persistence you will be marked as a quality resource of expertise in your area and, in turn, media will reach back out to you for stories as they happen.

Content: Wrapping up all of these methods is the key that cannot be overlooked. Only genuine, original, quality content will work. Whatever it is that gave
you the drive to initiate your small business is the same passion that should be put into your PR efforts.
Following these simple, and free, five steps will make an impact and ultimately create an in-house PR department. As your budget grows, you may want to add pay-per-click campaigns, sponsored social media ads, advanced social media tools and fee-based press release services.