Avoid ‘Cancel Culture’
Once you own a brand that interacts with a target audience, you put yourself at risk. The public is ruthless and they will sink their teeth deep into your brand and ensure that everything you aspired to be, ceases to exist. They do not care about the endless nights, the gargantuan sacrifices, or the loan payments outstanding you have at the bank. They will cancel you! Our minds no longer expire after nine days. They may be removed from the headlines, but our consciousness now has expanded memory and it is now difficult to forgive and far more difficult to forget.
What happened? Why does your story still linger in the minds of your audience? Your audience can no longer forget. The vivid memories of scandal, corruption, controversy, and lies are now permanently etched into their psyche. How can they forget the police officer that laid on a couch in a provocative pose, the sex scandal of politicians nibbling nipples, or the national leak of pornographic photos of several young ladies that live in Trinidad and Tobago?
Why can it not all go away? Our lives and memories are now mapped into huge databases and are reproduced as memories on Google, Instagram, and Facebook. We are often reminded of events that have occurred in the last decade. You have to be proactive rather than reactive. A proactive approach will ensure the longevity of your brand. It is already difficult surviving in a COVID-19 world and positive statements made by any professional who represents your brand is key to increasing your value!
In our previous post, we discussed how Public Relations is often used as a mechanism to manage a crisis. If you have not read it, you can take a look at our article here. Today we would like to explore how Public Relations can help you prevent a crisis as opposed to taking steps to save a brand from disaster. It is important to understand that PR can only work if it is practiced regularly. It is not a function that can be independently used when a brand is damaged. It is a continuous process that fosters positive relationships with all stakeholders.
INFORM AND ENGAGE
Do your suppliers, customers and investors receive regular updates about your business or brand? Do you inform them about your latest developments or innovations? Do you ask them for feedback and recommendations on how your business can improve to better suit their needs? The PR professional will use effective communication tools to inform your stakeholders regularly. This is commonly done through a newsletter via an email database. However, this does not have to be complicated. A newsletter can now take the form of a short graphic image that can be dispersed via What’s App so that your valued stakeholders are aware of what is happening with your business.
Through this form of communication, you develop a meaningful relationship. The more engaging your content is, the better you will be able to receive responses from your audience. Through this mechanism, a PR professional will be empowered to communicate your values and principles as a business. They will receive further insights on the professionals working behind the doors of the organization. You will establish trust, reliability and a point of contact for any issues your stakeholders are facing.
The primary goal is to ensure that you are the first contact made when there is an issue with your brand or business. You want your stakeholders to speak with your first, as oppose to approaching an association or the media. This trust that you build overtime must be held in high regard. It is important to understand that trust can be broken quickly. However, if your stakeholders can speak with you first, you have the opportunity to lead the narrative on the truth, as oppose to your stakeholders accepting a third-party response as fact.
STAKEHOLDER MAPPING AND EXPECTATIONS
The PR professional will map your stakeholders. They will assess your stakeholders under three or more categories. These include categories such as ‘High’, ‘Medium’, or ‘Low’. The map gives you a visual understanding of the priority assigned to all the players in your business or brand. The map will lead the conversation in terms of whose issues should be solved first, as opposed to issues that can be placed on hold. Mapping your stakeholders before-hand, makes responding to a crisis seamless, as there is an understanding of who needs to be communicated with first. For example, your investors may be assigned the highest priority on your list.
The professional in charge of PR in your organization must possess the quality of trust. If you cannot trust them, they should not be managing the relationships inside and outside of your company. Why is trust important? Once they have mapped your stakeholders, they will be able to share with you deeper insight into what your stakeholder expectations are. The PR professional acts as a filter for aggressive, improper or other emotive responses, that if heard by others may tarnish the brand that you are trying to create. The PR professional will solve all issues that arise and ensure that your stakeholders remain happy.
How does the PR professional manage these expectations? The answer is very simple. They are solution-oriented. You do not have to spend excessive time going over proposals, worrying about how to respond to a comment, a letter or a strong email from an investor that is displeased. The PR professional is there to guide you by providing solutions every day. When in doubt, you can lean on them for clarification, support, and advice. They are constantly assessing the situation and can bring facts, figures, and information to the forefront.
Every organisation that conducts business within a community, should make every effort to give back to those who live there. It does not have to be significant contributions, but rather genuine gestures of appreciation to those who have welcomed you into their living space. There is no obligation. It is not an activity that you must do, however, any self-respecting PR professional will advise you to allocate funds or resources for the people that live in the community.
These contributions must be strategic. Every donation or gesture of appreciation must be aligned to your target audience, as well as in alignment with the values that your company share. This not only fosters appreciation among those who support you but also creates value among those who work for you. These practical benefits of Social Responsibility increase your brand value as well as the respect received from your competitors.
When stakeholders value who you are and the principles you stand far, there is a higher possibility of receiving sympathy and forgiveness in the event of an error in judgement. Conversely, if there is no visible evidence that contributions were made to vulnerable communities or persons in need, the buy-in from the community when you need it the most will be absent. Social Responsibility is not restricted to large scale organizations, even the smallest business should engage their audience to support them in their time of need.
Public Relations is not only meant for large scale organisations. Public Relations is meant to be used by everyone. If used correctly you can manage perception, increase engagement and build relationships with everyone involved. How often do you reach out to your suppliers, customers, clients and vendors? The process does not have to be complicated. A simple call or a Whats App message will suffice. We practice PR every day, but do we practice it sufficiently to map the scale of our business
or brand. It is an important function and we must all show respect for its core tenets. When we ignore its values and the strength that it brings, it can find us in trouble. In some instances, the damage is so great that recovering a brand, may not be a realistic possibility.
Our Connective Pros team offers several business solutions in Public Relations, Marketing, Media and Communications. When we provide tools to you, we want you to understand the most effective methods on how to use them. We want you to receive the best mileage from every product or service that you purchase from us. If you are still unsure you can always contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happy to provide you with additional details on all our services.
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