Should We Re-brand Our Business Named for a Confederate General, Using a Racist Stereotype, or Honoring a Person who Enslaved Others?

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“Aunt Jemima” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes.

 

Longer answer: I’m going to dispense with the “what took you so long” speech because I think we all know this day is so long overdue, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

I was contacted by a reporter yesterday, asking for my comment on the “PR perspective” on a local business changing its name from that of a person who enslaved other humans to a more geographic moniker. All over, we’re seeing the renaming of schools, roads, and other properties for someone other than members of the confederacy here in the South where for many years, we haven’t paid attention to how those names were making black people feel.

So yes, re-brand your business. Re-name it. But be clear on why you’re doing it and be ready with your statement. Ask the people of color who work for you, who serve on your board, and who are your customers what they think of your potential new name and brand. And if you don’t have any people of color in your community, fix that.

Today there’s news about the Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s brands revising their brands as well. At last. Let’s celebrate even these small steps in the right direction.

How to Share Changes to Your Business Due to COVID-19

By | Crisis Communications, Social Media | No Comments

Our clients are adapting as quickly as possible and we’re sure you are, too. To help you get the word out about what’s different about what you offer, here’s a quick checklist.

  1. Make sure you publish a note about the changes to your business on your website. It is the best place for people to find information about whether you are open and when, and what they can expect you to offer at this time. Make sure you include an “effective” date so people know when the changes took place. It’s helpful if you can easily make changes to your website yourself. If you need help with this, please let us know.
  2. If you don’t have a social media presence for your business yet, now is most certainly the time to establish one. With everyone but essential workers working remotely, we’re all eager to stay connected using social media.
  3. Use your social media channels to share both the link to your website where visitors can find out what changes there are to your business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and brief details about those changes. Share content about your team — there has never been a better time to put a face to and humanize your team, than a time when we all crave human connection and need to see that by engaging your business, you’re helping people in the community remain employed.
  4. Be clear in your message about the changes. Skip explaining why things are different — we’re all perfectly aware of the stay-at-home orders and the pandemic (link to the CDC site or other relevant information if you must) — and get right to the heart of what’s different. Lead with what you ARE doing during this time. Follow with what you ARE NOT. 

We hope these ideas are useful in your communications and as always, please let us know if we can assist.

How to Work with a PR Firm During the Pandemic

By | Crisis Communications, Public Relations | No Comments

Business has changed for just about everyone, including the team at Jaggers Communications. You may be wondering what a PR firm can do for you while you are under quarantine and everything is so dramatically different.

Here’s what we’ve been working on with our clients to help them through this most unusual time:

  1. Planning for emergency and crisis communications: No one planned for the pandemic, so for our clients, we worked on developing emergency plans for the businesses themselves, then the communications language needed to share those changes with customers, staff, and other stakeholders.
  2. Thinking through your pivot: As communicators, we are problem solvers. We were born for this kind of work. Let us put our creative skills to the test by working with you to discover what you CAN do to earn money while setting aside the work that you can’t (for now).
  3. Refreshing your web content and SEO: Projects that have been on the back burner, like refreshing website content and boosting SEO, are perfect for the WFH era. We’ll take a look at what’s happening with your online presence and get it working for you, even better.
  4. Keeping your team informed: It may be the most important element of your communications right now, and the hardest. We are available to help you communicate the hard decisions, the bad news, and even the hopeful stuff, as we continue to navigate through this global nightmare, together.
  5. Discovering your newsworthy angle: Reporters are covering COVID-19 24/7, and while news relevant to that is welcome if you have it, they’re also hungry for other news. We can think through what news you can tell now, and help coordinate a virtual interview or media opportunity.

We’re happy to help you continue your work, as we continue ours.

COVID-19: Time for Pull, Not Push Marketing

By | Crisis Communications, Marketing | No Comments

Like me, you have gotten dozens if not hundreds of emails that start, “Out of an abundance of caution,” and go on to tell you about closings, changes in operation, care for employees, etc.  all in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Please stop email marketing. Now is not the time for push marketing.

As people all over the world are adjusting to stressful work-from-home situations, adapting to kids who are out of school and daycare, coping with potential unemployment, it’s critical for their email communication to have space for them to see the most important updates about, for example, local news, their healthcare, their employment, or other basic needs being met.

It is not the time for a luxury shoe brand to let me know how they are adapting to COVID-19.

What do to instead

Naturally, your business still needs to let people know what’s going on, especially in the case of changes, and that’s when we recommend changing to a PULL vs. a PUSH method of marketing. That is, publish your message very clearly on your own website and your social media platforms so that your audience can FIND the information when they need it. Use keywords so the content is searchable.

Please stay in your lane, focus on how you can continue doing what you do best, allowing people to quickly get the information they need the most, and find yours when they’re curious.

A Reporter’s Advice on Media Relations

By | Communications, Crisis Communications, Media | No Comments

A reporter friend texted me about his frustration with communications professionals who are either hamstrung by their bosses and unable to do their jobs, or who otherwise fail to conduct media relations in a timely manner. The situation doesn’t help anyone, as no one can do their job, and the public doesn’t get the correct, or sometimes, any information. “How do we get you to teach the communications professionals in this town how to communicate?” he said.

I have taught many people how to work with the media, and especially how to communicate in a crisis. I think it’s good to hear directly from the media how they want to receive information from their sources, as a refresher for all of us. Here’s the gist of what my reporter friend wants all people working in communications to know.

  1. It’s important to say something. Saying nothing means information comes from other sources, and the rumor mill is very active.
  2. It is critical to understand how quickly rumors spread and whip people into a frenzy. Social media can make any communicator’s job even harder, as the battle to correct misinformation mounts depending on how long the true story is delayed.
  3. You really can ask for something to be off the record. We understand that there are times you can’t tell us at the time, but you CAN say, “Hey, I can’t tell you much yet, but off-the-record, don’t send everyone home for dinner just yet.”
  4. Stop trying so hard to protect your people or control the narrative. In most cases, your subject matter expert is smart, capable, and willing to answer questions. Let them. You will get grilled less often if there is regular, proactive communication. If you never say anything, it looks like you’re trying to hide something.

I’ll add to this that it is OK, in the case of a crisis to say that you don’t have all the information, while sharing what you do have (stating the facts), and that you will get back to the reporter as soon as you have more to say. If you’re waiting for your client or boss’s approval before sharing information, you can at least let reporter’s know that you’re working on it, rather than leaving them hanging.