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Third Sector crisis communication support

Third Sector crisis communication support

We understand the challenges that can be faced in each sector, and we know how to prepare and protect our clients should they ever need it. In recent years, there has been increased scrutiny amongst the media towards charities, and even more hard-hitting scandals this year have had an impact on public perceptions. It can take a hundred good stories to build a reputation but only one bad one to bring down the house.

We’ve helped charities in the eye of the storm and advised clients in high profile situations. Our support can help you to prepare for and react decisively to an issue or crisis situation. If you want to take steps to protect your organisation today, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Developing a crisis response strategy

We know that most comms issues can be navigated effectively with the right strategy and support in place. Having the confidence that you can mitigate a risk comes from knowing you are properly prepared. We work closely with clients to create straight-talking crisis comms strategies that cover:

• Situational analysis – a review of key events that could impact your organisation
• Risk assessments – what issues are you likely to encounter? What could have the most impact?
• Crisis team structures – including Trustee support
• Comms protocols and checklists – a clear structure to follow at a glance
• User handbooks – communicating your crisis strategy in a format that can be easily accessed and used when the time is of the essence
• Template materials – to help speed up response times during a crisis situation.

Training days

Part of being able to respond to a crisis is being confident when handling media. The media will view your chief executive like any other CEO – they are the leader of the organisation and should be prepared to be scrutinised.
Journalists argue that they are reporting what the public needs to know, or wants to know, reflecting public mood. Spokespeople should be media trained, armed with facts and prepared for the toughest questions.

At PHA, our expert teams have been on the sharp end of media questioning, and can expertly prepare any spokesperson. Our tailored media training sessions train spokespeople to:

  • Structure key messages
  • Learn to control media interviews
  • Develop prepared responses
  • Understand the media
  • Learn different interview styles.

In addition to media training, our crisis simulation training days will put comms teams through their paces, with a mock crisis scenario involving how to deal with news of the crisis breaking, the first stages, the first calls from journalists, the CEO being doorstepped, and more.

Real-time support

During a crisis, even those with agreed protocols in place often require additional support. Crisis management experts are used to dealing with difficult situations, and good ones are not afraid to tell clients how it is once they see the depth of problems in an organisation. They should be able to bring with them not only expertise but contacts and links to other third parties who can help.

Getting up to speed on an issue quickly is vital. At PHA, we offer a 24/7 service that monitors social and traditional media coverage including sentiment. Our twice-daily reports with analysis and recommendations mean that you can always be sure of informed decision making.
Support from PHA can be scaled up or down depending on the level of crisis. From handling all media enquiries and social posts to acting as a sounding board for critical response deadlines, you will always be working with a dedicated senior comms consultant who will be on-hand at a moment’s notice. We also plug clients into media lawyers were necessary to help protect reputations and advise on other issues should the need arise.

Proactive PR

Following on from a crisis, it’s important to focus on the future and how or where you need to re-build relationships. Our third sector specialist team can help with:

  • Reviewing existing content and communications
  • Stakeholder engagement strategies
  • Thought leadership/feature placement
  • Proactive awareness-raising or fundraising campaigns.

If you would like to know how PR can help protect your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

Social media purging: personality vs. protecting your reputation

By Amy Andrews

Whether we log on to keep in touch with friends and family from around the globe or to connect for business, social media has become rooted at the centre of our everyday lives.

Over the past decade, the use of social media platforms has roared, with Facebook receiving 2.07bn monthly users, and Twitter over 800mn monthly users, according to Statista. Moreover, it is estimated that the average person spends nearly two hours on social media channels every day – more time than spent on eating, drinking and socialising.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Blogs have even gone as far as to calculate the average miles the average 25-year old’s thumb has scrolled over the last 14 years, turns out, it’s an estimated 7 miles.

As a result, the potential of an individual’s global reach has increased considerably, and a person’s online appearance has never mattered more. The likelihood is that regardless of whether people are on the hunt for comments or posts to catch you out on, eventually they will find something.

For the A-Z list of celebrities, business owners and influencers among us, this poses a very real threat.

Numerous public figures have discovered the repercussions of making ill-judged comments. Both Stormzy and more recently Jack Maynard have been held to account for tweets from their past containing homophobic language.

The CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, was pulled up on a comment he made six years earlier regarding only wanting pretty and popular people to wear his clothes. This then gained momentum on social media and

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

resulted in a 15% decline in sales. Despite being followed by an immediate apology, these resurrected tweets still echo today with some arguing that A&F has never fully been able to regain its status on the market since.

And for us ordinary folk, even recruiters and hiring managers will look through public profiles online as part of their hiring process, and according to SimpliLearn 19% of managers hiring decisions are influenced by social media searches.

Of course, the option is there to privatise accounts, but this can send the message to a potential recruiter, employee or even a journalist that you have something to hide. Remember the concept of six degrees of separation – you may think your private profile means your personal life is kept away from your professional alter ego, but someone you are connected to may not have the same privacy settings, revealing those pictures and posts you wanted to hide.

If this means sifting through your 2000+ tweets and Instagram posts to get rid of potentially offensive musings or drunken snaps, then boil the kettle, take a seat and get started, because social media has a bigger hold on business reputation than you know.

Whilst posting the wrong thing can be detrimental, equally, purging your account completely and leaving a blank canvas in its place can be just as damaging. If you own a business and you’re building your network, if you’re applying to jobs in a creative industry or if you’re building your Instagram to become an influencer, your personality will be your brand. People need to see personal traits that they can relate to and views and interests that they can align with to feel they know and understand you. 

Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

Your social profiles could be the make or break of your career so be proactive with your online identity. Every now and then, log out of your accounts and search your name on Google to see what others can see, if your business puts you in the limelight, set up Google Alerts and always be sure to put notifications on your Facebook and Instagram so you’ll be the first to know when you’ve been tagged in a post. This way, you can either accept or reject the tag depending on whether it aligns with your online brand.

Benjamin Franklin once said “it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it”. In today’s digital age, this statement rings truer than ever before. Word spreads faster, screenshots take 0.5 seconds and content can go viral in a matter of minutes. Whether a celeb, business owner or social influencer, your focus should be on proactively protecting your reputation from the offset, rather than desperately trying to re-build and transform it on a world stage.

Why authenticity matters and how PR can help

As a consumer business, ensuring that you have an authentic brand image is becoming increasingly more important. This is mainly because of a shift in buying behaviour which is seeing consumers favour brands and businesses that are truthful, credible and personable.

Forbes provided insight, reporting that this change is because consumers are now more active online than ever before, meaning PR faux pas, scandals and social media blunders are always directly on their radar. ‘Brands no longer have an option other than representing themselves honestly and transparently’.

More and more, traditional paid-for campaigns are fast-forwarded, skipped or ignored. In fact, it has been reported that over 35% of internet users are now blocking ads on their desktops, and only about 1% of millennials claim that an ad influences them. Instead, it is authentic and ‘real’ brand campaigns that are more successful in appealing to and influencing the consumer.

The key to ‘authenticity’ for a brand, it is to communicate with the consumer with an honest, engaging approach. A great way to do this is to use PR to tell a story about your brand, highlight its unique offering, and demonstrate why people should be interested. Here, we have detailed a snapshot of the PR tactics that can help put this into action:

  • Utilising Spokespeople – putting key spokespeople for the brand in the spotlight is an excellent way to show the human side of the business. An articulate and likeable spokesperson can be utilised in many ways e.g. for media interviews, as an industry expert to comment on relevant topics, to provide opinion-led editorial features, across social media etc.

A great example of a brand using a spokesperson in an authentic and engaging way is Pret a Manger. Pret has expertly used their CEO, Clive Schlee, to talk directly to the consumer on his blog, where he talks about company news, developments and even asks customers for their opinions on how the brand can be improved. This has led to the hugely successful opening of the first ‘Veggie Pret’, a concept that has since been rolled out to two more stores!

  • Creative Campaigns – a creative campaign is a great way to increase visibility for a brand. However, activity like this needs to be carefully planned to ensure firstly that the campaign is in line with your brand image, and secondly that it will appeal to your target customer in an authentic way.

A current example of a brand that’s nailed this approach is Missguided who have recently launched #MakeYourMark. The campaign features entirely un-airbrushed models to celebrate individuality and body positivity as part of their overarching ‘Keep on being you’ initiative. The video and photo series released by the brand features nine ‘babes of Missguided’ including body positivity activist Felicity Hayward; Skye Barr, co-founder of ‘safe space’ club night Pxssy Palace; and Fatty Boom Tatty blogger Sam Rowswell.

  • Digital Influencers – there is no denying the impact of digital influencers anymore, it has been shown that 74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions. In addition to driving sales, a good influencer engagement campaign will also deliver valuable and authentic online content to help showcase a brand in a more accessible way.

When an influencer truly likes and endorses a brand it is incredibly powerful, this is because most digital influencers have built a loyal and engaged following that appreciate the honest reviews and recommendations they provide.

It is extremely important that any brand looking to tap into the influencer market do it in the right way.  You will need to carefully select the right influencers to work with, looking at their follower’s demographics and engagement levels rather than just going for the obvious influencers with the highest number of followers. If the endorsement looks disingenuous or forced then it will stand out like a sore thumb, and will ultimately impact negatively on the brand.

A great example of an authentic and impactful influencer campaign is Boden’s ‘Wear it Like a Mum’ initiative. This campaign aimed to reclaim what mum style really means, and show that dressing in a ‘mumsy’ way shouldn’t be seen as a negative. The campaign was supported by a range of influencers including Jessica and Caroline from the Not Such a Model Mum blog, tech entrepreneur Michelle Kennedy and blogger/ confidence consultant Freddie Harrel.

To conclude, in an increasingly digital world, authenticity is the key to keeping consumers engaged, as demonstrated by the examples from Pret a Manger, Missguided and Boden above.

Online Reputation Management: Complete guide to your online brand

Content that drives engagement

Content and engagement go hand in hand. If one is poor the other will suffer, likewise if one is prospering it benefits both. Although continually creating content can seem a real challenge, it remains the gateway to growing a successful audience.

Engaging content should offer something new to the reader, whether that’s a new perspective, an unexpected chuckle or an educational piece.

Photo by Jacob Ufkes on Unsplash

Since the social media revolution, studies have shown the average consumer attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to just eight since 2000. That isn’t to say that social media is principally to blame, but the introduction of smartphones and hyperlinks alongside social media has led people finding it harder to concentrate.

So, if keeping consumers engaged is the aim of the game, how do you go about doing it?

  • Put the reader’s interest first – The audience you are targeting determines what you write about and choosing a relevant subject matter.
  • Trigger emotion – If you trigger an emotion in someone through your content, they are much more likely to remember you or share it with friends.
  • Ask the audience – Don’t be afraid to ask your audience, to help guide you with the direction of your content.
  • Move with the times – Content needs to be in real time, there’s no point creating content for something which happened a month beforehand. People would have forgotten about it.

 

Brands who have nailed engagement through their creative content

Wendy’s

The biggest Twitter phenomena of the year. A simple request for free chicken nuggets for the rest of the year resulted in a mass movement. Major companies such as Apple and Google all participated in the Twitter challenge. Perfect timing from Wendy’s as some light-hearted news was desperately needed, after the terrible footage of the United Airlines incident was only released a week before.

From Wendy’s perspective, the stunt gained them an extra 149,000 followers and 330 million social impressions. Carter didn’t get near the 18m retweets Wendy’s had asked for, but as it was a Twitter record they accepted that he had completed his challenge. They also used the opportunity to donate $100,000 to a charity.

 

GoPro

GoPro joined YouTube and created its own channel back in 2009, it has quickly transformed itself as one of the most successful brands on the platform. YouTube is known for being notoriously hard for business to make it a successful marketing stage, yet GoPro has had it cracked for years. With 5.2m subscribers clearly, something is working well.

GoPro’s highly effective YouTube strategy:

  • Promotion of brilliant user content on its channel – Previously only allowed professional extreme sports footage on its channel but now includes content from all around the world. By offering fans of the product a moment in the spotlight it helps to build a community around the channel.
  • Actively engage in conversation – GoPro really does care about their community, they regularly engage with subscribers by responding to comments, liking content and answering any questions subscribers might have. Almost giving off that ‘everyone’s equal here’ vibe.
  • Everyone’s needs are met – It would be easy for GoPro to be very selective about what videos they allowed upon its channel, but they want to grow their community, so the range of videos is immense. The channel holds videos from skydiving to swimming with sharks. The only rule? You must use a GoPro to join the club.

With engagement rates so dependent on the content that is produced, it is essential that it is constantly targeting the right people. Now more than ever, brands need to know exactly who their audience is. What makes them tick, when they want to hear from you, and above all what you have to say is interesting.

Online Reputation Management: Complete guide to your online brand

Creativity is the key: How your brand can stand out from the crowd

With the January transfer window fast approaching, in-house marketing and communication teams from football clubs up and down the country will already be locked away behind closed doors discussing how they can capitalise on buzz created by new signings and how they can enhance the global reputation of the brand.

You might think that the bigger clubs, with bigger budgets, would be leading the way, but in fact, some of the smaller clubs in England are muscling in on the conversation and hitting the back of the net when it comes to delivering impact for their transfer window activity.

Whether it’s a £100m player signed to help your club win the Champions League or the combative midfielder that will help you stave off the threat of relegation into the Football League, gone are the days of simply announcing a player’s arrival on the club website with the classic shirt and handshake image.

Here we look at some of the most creative player transfer reveals over the last few years.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa pulled off one of the biggest coups in recent history when they signed former England captain John Terry from Chelsea last summer. One of the most decorated players ever to have graced the English game, rumours placed Terry on three different continents at the same time, but it was Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa who secured the players signature. Villa announced his arrival with an imaginary WhatsApp group chat between the Villa chairman and manager Steve Bruce, along with past and present players, before “John Terry” was added to the group.  Simple but clever from Villa.

Chelsea

German international defender Antonio Rudiger was Chelsea’s first high profile signing last summer and his arrival delighted one Chelsea fan. Chelsea posted a video which follows a father and son to the counter of the Chelsea megastore at Stamford Bridge, where the dad asks his son what player’s name he wants on the back of his new Chelsea shirt. “Rudiger” is his reply. The cashier then pops his head into the storeroom to ask Rudiger himself if it’s OK. “No problem — I’m a Chelsea player now,” the Germany international responds.  At the time Chelsea supporters were growing increasingly frustrated by a lack of transfer activity but this was a nice touch from the Premier League champions.

Manchester United

Perhaps the most extravagant of them all but also befitting of the world’s second most expensive player of all time, Paul Pogba’s return to Manchester United rewrote the rules of sports marketing. This was more than just the return of Pogba, this was the combined genius of Manchester United and kit sponsor Adidas.

The entire unveiling was planned weeks in advance with Pogba featuring in online videos arriving in the UK, and touring the club’s training ground. If you thought that was good, Adidas enlisted the help of grime star Stormzy and created a music video which featured Pogba singing alongside the star. A #POGBACK hashtag was created and the rest is, well, history…

Oxford City

A far cry from the glamour and riches of the Premier League, Oxford City, who ply their trade in the sixth tier of English footballer, posted an image of their new signing on their Twitter account and it went viral after social media users retweeted it hundreds of times… after noticing he was sat in a McDonald’s restaurant. New arrival Matt Paterson was snapped signing the contract at the popular fast food chain prompting McDonald’s themselves to respond to the tweet. Despite initially being ridiculed for the tweet, the post drew widespread attention from media and it was Oxford who were smiling the next day when the story made the back pages of several national newspapers.

Yeovil Town

In July this year, Snapchat launched a new feature called “Snap Map” and the social media team at League Two Yeovil Town quickly saw an opportunity to jump on the back of the latest social trend by tapping into the new feature. The feature allows users to share their location with each other, so the club created a short video to show who was located at the stadium, Huish Park. Step forward new signing Jake Gray. They might be plying their trade in the bottom tier of the football league, but this was Premier League quality from the Somerset club’s social media team.

West Bromwich Albion

What better way to appease fans frustrated over a lack of transfer activity than to announce the signing of a new player by tweeting one of the fans directly. Well, that’s exactly what West Brom decided to do when @RieceWBA started an online campaign and tweeted @ the club for 11 consecutive days asking them if they were planning to sign any new players. On the 12th day, West Brom signed Jay Rodriquez from Southampton and to mark the announcement, the new striker recorded a personal message for @RieceWBA.

Social media has come to play an increasingly prominent role in the way that clubs operate in the modern game and is evolving rapidly. It will therefore be interesting to see what new, innovative uses of the different platforms clubs will employ during the January 2018 transfer window… watch this space.

 

 

So you’re going into politics: How to ensure your online reputation is in check

You might not have tweeted anything nearly as controversial as Jared O’Mara or Josh Rivers (editor of Gay Times), but even innocent tweets sent when you were a kid can come back to cause you problems – just look at Mhairi Black’s teenage tweets…

Getting a grip on your online presence won’t just protect you from scandal – it can also be a powerful force for good, and help you project your messages to more people.

This is our ‘dos and don’ts’ for those who might be considering a political career, and are wondering how to get started by tailoring your online presence:

Google yourself extensively.

This will show you what other people see and will show any potential weaknesses in your online persona. It will also show you how visible you are online.

Put your Facebook on lock-down.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Your personal profile on Facebook should be just that – personal. Tighten up your privacy settings, and delete any incriminating photos or posts from the past – no matter how funny you think they might be. Defriend anyone who you either don’t really know or wouldn’t trust. Consider changing your name so it is harder for people to find you – many politicians have altered their name slightly and change settings so that their Facebook profiles don’t show up on searches. You should also delete any old, unused profiles on platforms such as Beebo, Myspace, etc. The sites might be no longer relevant, but embarrassing content on your old profile still is!

Create a new public online presence for yourself.

Consider making a Facebook page which can be your public page for people to follow you on – but this should be kept professional, consistent and use all your key messaging. Similarly, Twitter should be considered a public forum. Expect people to ask you key questions about the policy or your opinion, and, if constructive, try to engage with them – but try not to get embroiled in a heated ‘debate’. Twitter arguments hardly ever look good.

Don’t feed the trolls. 

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Be selective over who you block. Being trolled online is part and parcel of being involved in politics at almost any level. But don’t start confusing trolls with comments offering constructive criticism – it can be all too easy to take this to heart and start blocking people. Being criticised and held to account is also part of politics, and often these people are would-be constituents or other stakeholders. Being trigger happy will result in #BlockedBy tweets on Twitter, which could also negatively affect your online presence and reputation. If you really can’t stand the criticism, mute it; although you may want to consider whether politics really is for you…

Do not buy followers.

It’s obvious, you’ll get called out on it and you will lose all credibility. Just don’t.

Engage proactively with supporters and key stakeholders.

Proactively engaging with supporters and key stakeholders is essential to building your followers organically. You won’t build them by simply creating a profile – nor simply sending the occasional tweet. Follow, retweet, post updates, stay active. Don’t let the weeds grow by letting weeks or months go by without a peep. It’s simple, really, but so easy to neglect.

Buy a domain in your name.

Buy a domain and have your own website, where you can tailor and fine-tune how you are presented, and even publish your own content that you can share on social media. Buying a domain and setting up a website is surprisingly cheap and easy – there are plenty of platforms to help you and to make the process simple, like Wordpress or Squarespace. Also set up a professional email address, perhaps one registered to your domain, as this simple change can make your email seem more professional and impressive than ‘@gmail’ or ‘@yahoo’. You can even continue to use simple interfaces like Gmail to manage your mail.

Be consistent across platforms. 

Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

Don’t tweet one thing but write something different, or perhaps contradictory, in a Facebook status. You might also want to tweet and update Facebook at similar times, as not everyone will follow you on both Facebook and Twitter. Make sure people are updated on both platforms, and that they are getting the same message or opinion.

Appreciate the differences between platforms.

Facebook can be used like Twitter, but Twitter’s character count means Facebook is much more suited for longer, more elaborated posts. On the other hand, Twitter is more suited for snap comments, quick responses, and live tweeting. And, of course, Instagram is perhaps not the best place to post a long and thoughtful status of housing policy under a photo of your smashed avocado.

Finally, check before you post.

No matter how quick you have to tweet, or how sick you are of reading your own writing, always read a tweet or status through before you post, and maybe even read it out loud. Not only will you avoid making compromising or avoidable mistakes, you will also have a little time to make sure your message sounds right – that your post reads how you thought it would. Also check it doesn’t assume too much knowledge, since you don’t want to tweet something that only makes sense if you had a private conversation with an MP or have an in-depth understanding of the British egg industry – such tweets will fall mostly on deaf and confused ears, even though your audience will be politically engaged. Don’t worry about the time taken to check our tweets – you’re not Andrew Sparrow, you don’t need to be the first to report on an issue or tweet a revelation in Whitehall, and mistakes look worse for you than for a reporter in a hurry.

Online Reputation Management: Complete guide to your online brand

 

“Google it” – How and why Google Page one is so important for small businesses

Google has become the most crucial part of our day to day, whether it’s for an irrational self-diagnosis, online shopping or a search for services. It’s now so important that it’s become a verb it its own right.

But how does “Google it” play in the world of small business?

When 95% of web traffic goes to sites on page one of Google, your website is the virtual storefront to your company, and if you were opening a shop, you’d want it to be on the main road with the most footfall, not in the obscure backstreets where little to no one pays a visit. As they say, the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google.

Here’s is why having your company rank on page 1 of Google is so crucial – and how you can make it happen

  • Reputation

WHY: A big part of business success is having a positive reputation within your industry. If when potential customers or investors research your business online only to find Google rife with negative news stories, customer reviews and financials, or with next to nothing on it, it’s an automatic turn off.

HOW: When a user types a word or phrase into the search engine, Google crawls the web for stories, posts and sites which are most relevant to the query – that’s where you want to be. By hiring a third-party SEO agency to identify key search terms for your business, you can optimise both your onsite content (blogs and website copy) and your external content (news stories and thought leadership pieces – with link backs to your website) with all those key words. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. There are plenty of online tools alongside Google Analytics ready to help you find the prime search terms for your business. For example, HubSpot has compiled a handy list of the 9 best keyword search tools to help you find out what people are searching for.

  • Visibility

WHY: Ever googled “Cheap reliable business finance” to find the top three search results accompanied by an “Ad” box? How often do you click on that result as opposed to the organic searches below it? Good question….

By building up your company’s online portfolio and populating Google with relevant stories, as opposed to paid for visibility, you’ll be the first choice for that user.

HOW: Invest the time and effort into nurturing your company’s Google ranking and you will most certainly reap the rewards. This means working hard over a long period of time to invest in PR, onsite content and social media channels with consistent messaging, organic subject matter and keywords. It isn’t a quick task and requires serious TLC and patience.

From the very beginning when choosing a domain name and designing a website, you must ensure every aspect is optimised for your business. There are simple things like using ‘.com’ in your domain name if you can, ensuring landing pages are tagged with keywords and that your website is mobile friendly (this is very important), all help you climb up the ranks.

  • Customer trust

WHY: That organic search will do your brand wonders. It means customers will trust what you do because you haven’t paid your way to the top of Google, but you’ve earned it. If Google trusts you enough to appear on the first page of a search, it is a good starting point for potential customers and investors to have confidence in you too.

HOW: The most important trust-building exercise is that credible titles and news outlets positively cover your business. Look at it this way, when you want to find out if a product is worth using, do you believe the retailer’s product description on its website or do you research to find customer and third-party reviews? The same goes for business. Your blog could be filled with great content and challenging thought leadership pieces, but standing alone and unsupported, they only get some of the job done. Existing alongside external pieces on national newspapers and magazines like the FT, Telegraph and The Guardian, they hold a crucial supporting role whilst those pieces are at centre stage.

Enjoy reading this insight? Why not pre-order our latest ebook?

Online Reputation Management: Complete guide to your online brand

 

 

 

How To Stand Out From The Crowd Online

In an age where companies claim to be the leading expert in every topic under the sun, making sure your business stands out from the crowd can be an uphill battle. When it comes to the technology arena, this problem is exacerbated. The media hype around the latest technology, such as AI or blockchain, creates a wall of white noise that’s seemingly impossible to break through unless you’re one of the big players like Microsoft or Google.

However, all is not lost for the tech start-up that wants to get noticed in their respective area online. By choosing the right platforms to make your case and ensuring your timing is spot on, it is possible to be a flamingo amongst a flock of pigeons. Here are some of the top ways you can make sure your tech start-up stands out from the crowd:

Know what makes you unique

It’s all too easy to slip into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. Not only will this dilute your message, it will also confuse it. It’s important to understand what makes your proposition truly different to the rest of the competition as only then can you get across exactly what you want to say.

What do you do that no one else does? What insights do you have on AI, blockchain or cybersecurity that no one else can provide or is providing right now? Do you have any unique data that can add something truly new to the wider conversation? Once you know what only you can offer, you can go out with a succinct message that will cut through the white noise.

Understand who you’re trying to target

Not only is it important to know your business, it’s crucial to know who you want to be in front of and why being in front of those people will help you succeed. Again, you can’t be in front of every single audience and trying to reach everyone will limit the time you can spend on specific targets such as the people who might buy your product or invest capital in the business.

Understanding why you want to target a particular audience will help focus your messaging online. If you’re looking to become a leading expert in AI for example, you need to be in the media read by those at the top of this field. If you want to sell units, being in a consumer-facing “wish-list” article will be more beneficial than an exclusive interview with the founder.

Don’t join the chorus

There seems to be an innovation or technological breakthrough every other day, with the tech du jour often lauded as the next big thing that everyone is talking about. While there’s a strong temptation to get in on the conversation and put as much of your opinions out there at once, don’t jump on every bandwagon. In the highly competitive arena of technology, you’ll most likely be drowned out by the big players.

Make sure every time you post something online or talk to the media you’re adding real value to the conversation. Choosing the right platform to ensure you’re in front of your target audience is also essential to avoid being swallowed by the noise. It’s not about being controversial, and having the ability to step back and know when the right time is to speak out or to listen will stand you in good stead.

Practice what you preach

In all your communication as a company, whether that be with customers, investors or internal staff, it’s important that you practice what you preach. Staying true to your principles is the sure fast way to maintain a level of integrity that no amount of money spent on marketing campaigns can bring. Most companies are founded in an attempt to solve a real-world problem, and being able to talk about this in a relatable way can help your company stand out from the noise.

Online Reputation Management: Complete guide to your online brand

How to Use Social Media to Build Your Online Reputation

Social Media has become a brilliant platform for fortifying your reputation both online and offline. More diverse, immersive and accessible than traditional marketing, it provides a level of authenticity which is often hard to capture. Each channel occupies a niche and offers a varied strategy for your developing your online reputation, brand values and identity.

The key point to remember is that you need to be interactive! Social is inherently social; make sure you’re asking questions, interacting with people and encouraging a discussion. Ideally, you want to get people talking to you, with you and about you. Positioning yourself as a thought leader is invaluable in building confidence in your personal brand, and Social Media is one of the easiest ways in which to do this.

LinkedIn:

LinkedIn is perhaps the most obvious platform for building your reputation as a thought leader in your industry. After all, it was designed to build and expand your professional network and unite those with common interests. Joining and prompting relevant discussion on LinkedIn can be as simple as writing a post, but it certainly doesn’t stop there.

You should join groups that are relevant to your industry, share articles on matters of importance to you, make real connections online and voice what makes you matter as an individual or a business. Jump on top of trending issues, like #PayInterns or Mental Health Day, make yourself seen. Social Media is all about storytelling, so tell yours!

LinkedIn also offers the ability to publish built-in blogs, which the algorithm will support so they generate further reach. Write one, publish it, and encourage people to ask you questions and discuss your ideas. As with everything on Social Media, the more people interact with your posts, the more often they’ll your content, so you really want to push for that initial engagement that keeps them coming back for more!

Instagram:

Instagram a great platform for the professional, as it allows you to showcase the aspects of your life that may feel ill-suited elsewhere. Instagram allows you to curate a broader understanding of, and personality around, your brand. This authentic and intimate insight is increasingly invaluable in the world of modern marketing.

When using Instagram, remember to use the whole toolbox! Use Instagram stories, and their ever-evolving features (link), add videos and boomerangs and try to be playful. In the same vein, remember that branded or explicitly commercial content won’t sit well on Instagram, so be sure to show off your creative side.

The majority of my time this week 😁 #podcast #podcasts #interview #careers

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Twitter:

Twitter is often a first-stop for people joining the world of Social Media. As a news-driven platform, it offers the perfect opportunity for comment and discussion, both as a brand and an individual. When using Twitter, it’s important to remember it functions on the basis of, ‘look at that’ NOT ‘look at me’. Using Twitter to stay on top of industry agendas is a great way to prove your relevance.

Make sure you’re following and interacting with existing influential leaders, and try to get your content in front of them. A key influencer retweeting your message can lead to a hugely expanded reach, engagements and followers.

Facebook:

Facebook may not seem the most immediately relevant channel, but it holds value in its SEO potential, and in having a seamless visual identity and tone of voice across the web. Having these multiple touch points is helpful in keeping your messaging clear and consistent.

One stand out benefit of using Facebook is its sophisticated and intricate options for paid promotion. This is something worth investing in if you want to promote a cause or event, and may yield better results than many other platforms.

In terms of content on Facebook, it can be used to support content pushed out across other channels, and focus on longer form opinion pieces, such as blogs or videos.

Google Plus:

Lastly, there’s Google Plus; this is a channel primarily used for its SEO value. By posting consistently and regularly to this channel, you can boost the SEO of you, and your brands, name in the search engine. You can use your usual content here, host in-site blogs and regularly link out to your website. Using Google Plus in this way which give your name credibility and visibility, assuming you post quality content regularly.

Social Media today hosts a plethora of tools to help you tell your story. It’s a hugely varied space that is highly flexible to the individual or brand, and since it’s now so pervasive, it’s easy to get your message where and to who you want.

Do remember, Social Media is not a one-way street, and the first way to put people off is by being ‘me me me’. Using your own content is fantastic and certainly recommended, but don’t be afraid to share others’ work. You can still demonstrate your value and knowledge by directing others to authoritative and illuminating content from across the web. This is also often a good way to continue to expand your network, just make sure you always credit appropriately.

Devise a strategy, find your tone of voice and get stuck in!

Online Reputation Management: Complete guide to your online brand

 

Brand Reputation Management

Navigating Disaster: Big Brand Recoveries

It takes years of hard work to build a reputable brand, yet only seconds to destroy it. A good brand can build a loyal customer base, make your business infinitely marketable and develop your image on your own terms. However, the maintenance of this can be incredibly hard work, and there’s a lot of pressure on when you’re managing a multi-million pound company. We take a look at 3 very different reputation disasters faced by global brands, Burberry, Nike and Johnson & Johnson, and how they overcame them. These companies demonstrate the importance of a well-managed strategy and staying true to brand values and promises.

Re-positioning the Brand with Burberry:

Burberry faced a challenge of huge proportions in the early 2000s. Having enlisted Kate Moss to revamp the slowly tiring and stuffy brand, they suddenly gained more recognition and popularity than they had prepared for. However, this recognition was not coming from their target market, and in fact these newly developed fans were not even buying their product. They were buying fakes. In fact, this new demographic adoption of the brand escalated so severely out of control, and became such a marker of a ‘certain kind of person’ that it was banned in pubs and clubs around the UK.

Daniella Westbrooke Baby Chav Burberry Clothes Fake Designer

Image Courtesy of: www.dailymail.co.uk

This was of course terrible news for Burberry’s reputation, and came at a time of already relative instability in the market. The creative directors and executives at Burberry once again had to figure out how to re-invent the British classic. They did so with a decidedly technological twist. Inspired by the success and innovation of companies such as Apple, Burberry launch a fully integrated digital campaign. This began with live streaming shows, expanding into social media and setting up ‘The Art of The Trench’. This was a user generated and led space, where individuals were encouraged to share and express what Burberry was to them.

Burberry succeeded in becoming synonymous with innovation once again, tapped into the youthful market and re-established itself as a leading fashion house in the UK and far beyond. Burberry now hold little to no trace of its earlier mishaps, and is now the proud owner of the most star-studded fan club of all; from Kate Moss and Cara Delevigne, to Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence. Burberry certainly came back with a bang.

Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne shot by @MarioTestino – behind the scenes of a new #Burberry fragrance campaign coming later this year

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Making Real Changes with Nike:

Nike has undergone perhaps one of the most dramatic brand recoveries that the consumer world has ever experienced. This image turn around came after a globally talked about expose of labour practices in their factories around the world. This ‘sweatshop’ practice horrified consumers, activists and industry professionals alike. Much of the issue surrounding these abuses stemmed from the process of subcontracting factories to produce Nike’s goods. This meant Nike could distance itself from any bad press, which it had done for many years previous, or turn a blind eye when anything nasty was mentioned internally.

Sweatshop Working Conditions Inhuman Human Rights

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel) Image Courtesy of: www.thebackbencher.co.uk

As such, Nike thrived on a business model that was based on outsourcing its manufacturing and using the money saved here on aggressive marketing campaigns and sponsorship deals. However, in the 1990s the cracks began to show. From workers being paid a mere 14 cents per hour, to child labour, substandard air quality and quite simply human rights abuses, the lid was lifted on everyone’s favourite sportswear brand. Activists and consumers alike drew parallels with 20th Century workhouses; this sentiment was felt most sincerely with the report that 12 Vietnamese women were forced to run outside in the heat until they collapsed…for wearing the wrong shoes. It added insult to injury that this atrocity was committed on International Women’s Day.

The situation continued to escalate until any mention of Nike promotion or marketing became an opportunity for public protest. By 1998 CEO Phil Knight had become transparent in his acknowledgment of the abuses and acceptance of Nike’s failures. Knight pledged to increase minimum wages and age eligible for work, as well as greater monitoring and refinement of factory conditions. The following 8 years saw Nike establish the Fair Labour Association, perform over 600 factory audits and publish a list of affiliated factories (an industry first). This huge corporate social responsibility overhaul has afforded Nike the gleaming brand reputation it currently holds, and goes to show the power of transparency in changing perceptions.

We grew closer every mile. Every, single why-did-I-sign-up-for-this mile. We covered ground. We pounded pavement. We burned rubber on asphalt. We were hot on the trail. We ran new loops till they became old ones. We worked on weekends. Weekdays. Weeknights. We missed brunch because we took the backroads. We couldn’t make it to taco night because we were on the track that night. We kept going when our friends kept quitting. We got lost. And we found out a lot about ourselves. We’ve been everywhere together. Except the finish line. #justdoit

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Smoothly Handling a Crisis with Johnson & Johnson:

In 1982 a scandal struck pharmaceutical brand Johnson and Johnson. This was the news of 7 deaths in the Chicago area linked to the popular painkiller, Tylenol. These 7 individuals had ingested cyanide-laced capsules of extra-strength Tylenol that had been tampered with. Understandably there was a huge loss of trust in Johnson and Johnson, and of course in revenue as well as market share. At the time, Tylenol had accounted for 17% of the company’s entire income; this was an incident that marketers predicted the brand would never recover from.

However, the whole crisis was handled impeccably from start to finish. Responsibility was duly taken and 31 million bottles were pulled from the shelves immediately. At the time, it was unheard of for companies to take such action, before 1982 nobody recalled anything. Johnson & Johnson made headlines again in doing this. 2 months down the line, Johnson & Johnson had recalled all instances of the at-risk Tylenol product, and replaced it – free of charge – with new tamper proof packaging. This process cost them $100 million, a fitting price for such an extensive recall and re-launch. These actions, bolstered by an expensive media campaign, ensured the maintenance of the Johnson & Johnson brand as a trusted household name.

Wishing you a year full of sweet dreams and silent nights. #2017 #NYE 🎉🌙

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Not only did their brand reputation survive, but a year later Johnson & Johnson held a $1.2 billion share of the analgesic market, which has plunged from 37% to 7% at the time of the crisis. By 1983 this had been restored to 30%. Johnson & Johnson, and their Chairman James Burke, were particularly praised for their superior management and ability to quell what could’ve been a devastating crisis. Not least in its potential impact on human life, had the situation been mismanaged.

Johnson & Johnson represent one of the best examples of a brand bouncing back from a crisis, spectacularly so, in fact their share of the prescription drug market has risen over 25% from 18% in 1980. No more tears indeed.