Category

Public Relations

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

By Public Relations

“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 Work with a PR Firm During the Pandemic

By Crisis Communications, Public Relations

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.

Why is it so Hard to Define Public Relations?

By Public Relations

PR people themselves have a tough time defining their own industry for ages. There are blurry boundaries between PR, marketing, advertising, and other disciplines. No one knew where to fit social media when it exploded on the scene fifteen or more years ago, and now it fits under the PR umbrella in some ways, as well.

It’s not that complicated, if you think of PR as the deliberate management of shared information about a person, brand, corporate or nonprofit entity and the public. 

Tell your story (correctly, in a way that influences action) by hiring a PR firm, consultant, or employee. HOW it is done, is where all those other disciplines (media relations, social media, grassroots outreach, networking, etc.) come into play.

Stop it with the Spin Already

“Spin” is a word that makes ethical PR practitioners cringe. Spin is propaganda. It is the practice of pushing a biased interpretation to your audience, to influence outcomes. This is quite common in politics. If a prospective client were to ask us for this kind of service, we’d turn them down. It’s not what we do.

We work with people who have stories to tell about their business, what they offer, who does the work, and what audience they serve. We’re honored to help our clients tell these stories, to connect with the right people, to engage and build relationships, and to grow in their success. That’s good PR, and that’s what we do.

Five Elements that Make a Reputation

By Public Relations

It’s not often I’m on the other end of the work that I do, playing the role of community member and answering questions posed by another PR firm about their client, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing this morning.

It’s a great experience to have, a reminder of what it feels like to be the call recipient, the survey-taker, or the person who is forming an opinion about the client in question. This is how firms like mine determine the reputation of a client: is it good? Is it bad? What IS the reputation, and how did it get that way?

Here’s How a Reputation is Formed

  1. Hearsay. Someone you know works at the company, or knows someone who does and you know from what they say how the company is as an employer, and may even know a little bit about what they do, professionally. Sometimes people call this word-of-mouth.
  2. Advertising. Have you seen an ad somewhere? Where? And what did it say?
  3. Strategic relationships. In my community, I know what companies have been openly, visibly supportive of certain nonprofit organizations. I can tell from that affiliation, something about their core values. So whether your company has no visible affiliation of that kind, or one I can’t identify, or one that’s very clear and obvious makes a difference. I know a little something about electronics retailer Crutchfield, based in Charlottesville, Va. and that they welcome pets into their company headquarters and that the company leadership if fond of animals, and, as a result is a long time, big supporter of the local SPCA. That information helps formulate the reputation of the organization through that relationship.
  4. Search Engine Optimization. This one takes work on the company’s part, and on the part of their public relations partner. What SEO means, is what you find when you google a company. What shows up on their online presence, the part they manage, including their website and social media channels, but also what’s been published about them, in the form of reviews, of news stories, and of other content outside of their control. Go deeper than that and look up the employees of the organization. The reputation of a company is only as strong as its members and if you find that there are people with really bad reputations collecting a paycheck from the company in question, that’s going to flavor your perception of the company’s reputation.
  5. Personal experience. It’s not easy to change a person’s perception of a company once they’ve had their own experience of it. Whether you’re a former employee, a disgruntled or even enthusiastic customer, or a vendor, that interaction creates a long-term imprint and puts you in the role of influencing others (see #1 above) through hearsay or word-of-mouth.

Those of us in the PR and reputation management business need first to understand the reputation of our client, and how that reputation has been formed, to begin the work of shaping it for the future.

 

United’s PR Opportunity

By Communications, Public Relations

Some people like to play fantasy baseball. I play fantasy public relations.

By now, you’ve heard about the doctor who was forcibly dragged from his United flight to Louisville, Ky when a flight was oversold and seats needed to be made available to United staff.

 

In the wake of the incident, the airline’s CEO released a statement that surely, no PR professional touched.

 

There’s universal agreement among PR pros and the general public that this was a PR failure of epic proportions.

What United Should Do Now

  1. Apologize for the mistreatment of a passenger and take steps to insure nothing like this ever happens again.
  2. Stop overselling flights, and lead the industry in changing policies to make air travel humane, courteous, and pleasant again. (This is where the fantasy comes in because airlines will always oversell flights, hedging against no-shows and missed connections, to make the most money possible on every flight).
  3. Ask the CEO to step down. This guy is a disaster in a crisis. Not what you want in an airline.

If United does this, and puts in place a new CEO with a strong relationship to their PR team, they will be on track to salvage what has become a terrible reputation. The likelihood that any of this will occur is small, because, realistically, our attention span for this kind of thing is short. As passengers, we have limited choices of airlines going to the destinations we seek. We need to select the least expensive option when we shop for airline tickets and our morals will only last so long when we need to fly somewhere. We will keep flying United, even if, for now, we’re determined to do otherwise.