Public Relations

PR Clients Like Bad Boyfriends

By | Public Relations | No Comments

A friend of mine has a saying, “The ex-wife is never completely wrong.” This is true, I’ve found, when it comes to ex-consultants, ex-employees, former vendors, and previous PR counsel to PR clients that turn out to be not so good.

Like a new girlfriend we think it will be different with us! We’re different, so the client will be kinder, more responsive, respectful, etc.

Not true.

If someone tells you that the client (with whom they used to have a relationship) doesn’t pay, or pay on time, is not responsive, is disrespectful, doesn’t value public relations or marketing, etc. that’s not going to change after they sign a contract with you.

Bad clients are just like bad boyfriends. Break up with them.

Three Important Things I Told University of Virginia Communications Students Today

By | Marketing, Media, Public Relations, Social Media | No Comments

My friend, media personality, and historian Coy Barefoot asked me to speak to his media class today at UVa. I love to teach and miss engaging with college students so I jumped at the chance. I used to teach public relations to college juniors and seniors who were communications majors at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri and I really loved that experience.

Today, the students had questions about how businesses and brands should be presenting themselves online, how media relations works today, now that social media is so prevalent, and what steps are important in crisis communications.

Three things I told them that I think bear repeating are these:

  1. If you want to be in communications, go buy the domain that is your name today, host it, install WordPress and, at a minimum, publish your resume. Maintain the domain.
  2. In a crisis, if you’re representing a brand, the first, most important step to take is an apology (even if you’re sorry that your community is experiencing this bad thing) and an expression of empathy.
  3. Pay attention to your personal brand; it can make you employable, valuable, and attractive. (Or the opposite of these, obviously. Manage it.)

For the student who showed up late to class and nodded off during — I bet she has a hard time finding a job when she graduates. Bet she never sees this post, either. D minus!

Do You Want to Build a … Reputation?

By | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | No Comments

So many companies set up their marketing and social media efforts as an afterthought. They might engage an intern or an already-overloaded employee to manage these efforts, resulting in a bunch of one-off posts, releases, or ads. The whole thing comes across as half-assed.

If you want to build a brand and establish a reputation, the effort needs to be strategic. It should be thoughtful, consistent, and well-managed. There should be an internal point person (who doesn’t consider the tasks unwanted chores foisted upon them).

If the person in your company assigned to marketing and social media isn’t a marketing person trained and well-versed in social strategy, you have the wrong person in that seat. If that person isn’t passionate about establishing and growing your brand’s reputation, again: wrong person, wrong seat.

It’s easy to build a reputation if you’re following a strategic plan for doing so, and touch that plan every single day. It takes time, of course, but nothing compared to the time it takes to undo a reputation gone awry.

Barilla’s Big Gay Mistake

By | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | No Comments

Barilla_Logo_ClaimUS_RGB_posOnce again a brand is about to bite the dust over attempting to alienate a segment of its customer population. In a ridiculous statement, the chairman of the pasta company has said that they will not feature any gay families in its advertising. This has naturally created a social media firestorm of pasta-eaters banning the brand. When I see this kind of story, I can never imagine how such a moronic position happened in the first place, much less how it made it into mainstream media. barilla quote

Brand representatives are scrambling, asserting that the statement was a “mistake” and trying to retract and correct, positioning chairman Guido Barilla supports gay marriage (but not gay adoption.) In any case, he definitely doesn’t want gay people eating Barilla pasta.

#boycottbarilla is the trending hashtag, if you’re interested in following such things.

Me? I’m going for some homemade pasta.

What does Barilla need to do to fix this?

  1. Apologize! “we’re sorry for being insensitive to people everywhere who love our pasta. We definitely will have people of all genders, races, sexual orientations and pasta preferences in all of our advertising going forward,” would be a good start.
  2. Probably fire, or seriously demote Guido Barilla. He’s made that bed.
  3. Make a large donation to a gay rights organization asap.
  4.  Launch a new campaign that demonstrates INCLUSION of all people who may or may not want to eat pasta. Jeez. Is it really that hard?

I don’t know about you, but I’m really sick of politics getting in the way of my food choices.


What Is Reputation Management, Anyway?

By | Communications, Public Relations | One Comment

Public relations firms have begun to adopt a descriptor that I think more accurately describes what some of us do; reputation management. The term originated with the internet and Marijean Jaggerssearch engine results and has been used by companies promising to rid your company of all those nasty negative posts and comments that damage your brand’s reputation. As used here, and by Jaggers Communications, it is the practice of applying smart communications to tell the story of your business in a way that, yes, affects search results when one goes looking for information about your brand, but also the longer-term effect of educating, changing perceptions and establishing who you are, what you do, and what you do well.

I refer to my firm as a reputation management firm. I find that it’s far easier a concept for people to understand than public relations ever was. I remember comparing notes with others in public relations for years on the question, “does your family understand what it is that you do?” Our families often didn’t!

I think that lack of understanding has dissipated somewhat. I think there is more of a general, global understanding of social media and its impact; of the need for companies to have a communications strategy in place, and to be sharing the news of their business frequently and consistently.

What do you think? Has reputation management replaced public relations in the communications business?