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Tag Archives: Public Relations

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Organizational Reputation

Bridget B. 1 Comments

I recently did a research paper which focused on how–if at all–organizations use digital communication tools in reputation management. The results of my study showed that online communication between organizations and their publics is in fact being used as a means of managing corporate reputation. More importantly, I found that specific tactics such as active listening and engaged responses lay the foundation for reputation management via online communication.

Let’s just talk about social media –blogs, microblogging (e.g. Twitter), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook), professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn), video sharing 9e.g. YouTube) and content driven communities (e.g. Wikipedia)– these mediums have all significantly altered the way that businesses provide services, interact with their stakeholders and manage their reputations.

Stakeholders now use social media to comment on a company’s actions in public forums. Customers Tweet to companies and expect immediate feedback, investors conduct their due diligence online and employees leave reviews about their experience at the workplace on Glassdoor.com. Recently someone posted a photograph –to Instagram and Facebook– of a store they had visited. This person was basically telling everyone on their friend list not to patronize this store because customer service was terrible. This is how your organization’s reputation can be tarnished online.

How can a business act in a situation such as the one above?

Get on social media and respond. It’s important that business owners be present on social media, not just to market their brand or product, but to listen to what is being said. Use social media to interact with your customers, answer queries, apologize for bad customer service and build strong relationships. In a 2007 study conducted by S. U. Yang, it was found that favorable organizational reputation can be obtained by quality relationship management between an organization and its strategic publics. Put simply, building strong relationships can help you to develop positive perceptions of your organization which by extension influences your overall reputation.

Here are four (4) recommendations which can be implemented if you wish to use online messaging systems to support your reputation management processes:

  1. Utilize online messaging systems to hear and address your stakeholders concerns. These messaging systems facilitate convenient instant communication between your organization and your publics. External stakeholders will not be restricted by your business hours, which usually delays responses and sometimes results in matters remaining unresolved.
  2. Your online engagement team should be trained to actively listen to customer concerns to get an understanding of the underlying issue. Training personnel in active listening helps staff to be alert for cues, which in turn helps determine the root of the issue and can significantly reduce the number of instances where customers feel as though their concerns have not been addressed. Active listening also mitigates miscommunication between the employee and the customer.
  3. Dedicated personnel should be assigned to engage with stakeholders via online mediums. Dedicated team members assigned to social media and online communication will be better prepared for customer interactions. Familiarity of the online communication system can boost efficiency and accuracy of the information communicated to the customer.
  4. All internal departments and teams should share information and collaborate to find customer solutions. Including other departments when developing the guidelines and processes for customer interaction ensures that the correct information is always communicated to the customer, reduces the risk for internal conflict as all departments are on the same page, and mitigates litigation.

Strategic use of social media for communicating with customers can positively impact your organization’s reputation. Employing specific tactics such as active listening, engaged responses and internal collaboration, you can build strong relationships with customers and empower your employees to take the necessary steps to resolve issues.  Remember that strong relationships with your stakeholders can have a significant positive effect on your organization’s reputation.

Plot your PR

Bridget B. No Comments

Photo courtesy: Spectrum

If you are anything like me, Saturday is the day you use to do all of your “running around”. Whether you’re going to the grocery store, getting your hair done (at the barber or hairdresser 🙂 ), doing errands or just some pleasure shopping. By the time you get into your car, I am sure you already have a plan in your head; do my hair, head to the grocery store (list in hand), pick up the package at John’s, then run into the mall for a pair of shoes. I am also certain that you’ve also plotted your driving route before coming out of the driveway. You don’t sit in the car, start driving and then try to figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going!

Sometimes we find ourselves stumped in front of the keyboards of our computers, trying to think of a witty Facebook status, LinkedIn post or tweet for Twitter. We may even have to scroll back in time to make sure that we’re not repeating any posts. In much the same way we plan out our Saturday movements, we also need a plan for our business’s PR.

You want to make sure that your Public Relations activities are in line with the overall business goals. There should always be a point to each activity. Based on the business goals, you can then formulate your PR plan. What do you hope to achieve? Who do you want to target? What actions do you want to drive? Having a plan will help you to answer these questions.

Your PR plan should contain these four (4) elements goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. Some people are probably thinking Terminology! EEEK! So let’s talk about these elements using layman terms.

  • Goals – What do you want? What’s your golden trophy? A goal can be aligned to your company’s vision. An example of a goal: ‘Be the most sought after provider of gel ink pens’ (I once sold gel ink pens as a teenager to my school friends). The thing about goals is that they are hard to measure; how can we determine that we are the most sought after provider of gel ink pens?
  • Objectives – To be able to measure success or determine if we’re any closer to achieving our goal, we identify objectives. A measurable objective would be to sell twice as many gel ink pens by the end of the 2nd quarter. 
  • Strategies – We’ve gotten to the “What”. What will help us to achieve these objectives and in turn meet our goal? If more people were aware that we sold gel ink pens at a reduced cost, that can lead to more sales. The strategy can therefore be to increase awareness about our brand and product.
  • Tactics – Now we get to the heavy lifting. How do we increase awareness about our brand? Maybe we start an advertising campaign; get some stellar artwork designed, print and put up posters around the neighborhood, take out a couple newspaper ads,  give out free samples of our gel ink pens to passersby, hand out flyers, hit social media.

In the end we will be able to determine the success of our PR campaign based on the objectives we set for ourself. We know that we need to sell twice as many pens. And there we have it…. measurement!

I came across this awesome guide for setting measurable PR objectives on the website for the Institute for Public Relations (they have GREAT content by the way). Although the document is a bit long (14 pages), and quite black and white, it is informative and I believe, very helpful for PR practitioners.

Click here to check it out.

Go forth and plot your PR!

Product vs. Quality Service

Bridget B. No Comments
Image courtesy: http://cdn4.webable.com.bd/bable/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/1.png

Image courtesy: WebAble

I have worked in the event planning industry for some time, specifically I managed corporate events. The most important thing to an event planner is their “rolodex”. Of course I do not refer to the inanimate object that is placed on your desk, but, more specifically I refer to the contacts that you acquire over the years.

Similar to communications professionals, event planners rely heavily on various vendors all working together for the successful execution of an event.
Now, there are hundreds of individuals providing services in photography, graphic design, catering, decorating, audio/ visual etcetera etcetera etcetera (have you seen ‘The King and I’? lol)  … but… who makes the cut?!
There are two types of providers:-
  1. Those who provide a product. The photographer who takes photographs and then delivers them to you on a CD. The caterer who cooks food. The graphic designer who designs your art work.
  2. Those who provide quality service. The photographer who sits with you to discuss the feel of your event and the types of shots that would be most important to you or your client. The caterer who presents you with various options for food and beverage depending on the type of event. The graphic designer who presents you with a ‘mock up’ of what the final product could look like before going to print.
The main difference here is that some providers provide a quality service. While the ones that provide just a product may be a cheaper option, price does not beat quality service.
Even as a professional providing a service ourselves, it is always important to provide quality service; don’t just “do your job”.
If we have friends in the industry who we wish to hire to provide services, we should encourage them to provide the best quality of service. Producing an event, an advertisement, a pr campaign or simply some sort of publishing, requires quality work.
We can add quality to our service by putting the needs of our client (or the company you work for) first. What decisions would best benefit the client; financially and otherwise? Which service provider would assist you in creating a positive lasting impression? Will the end result be something that you are proud to be associated with?
In this industry, it is important to provide more than just a “product”.
I always choose quality of service rather than just quality of product.
What about you?

PR Girl

Bridget B. No Comments

It’s official! I have my first “client”.

For the longest while I’ve been tiptoeing around the idea of offering PR consultancy services. It’s not like I’m unsure about a career path, it’s just that I feel as though, like every other industry, PR is a bit saturated.

However, I had been helping out a close friend with PR strategies for her small business. One night she said “B, you can do this as a business you know. You can help people with small businesses, I’m sure there are plenty people like me”. That’s when I started this website.

So let’s fast forward to today. I now have my first official client, whose website (designed by moi) went live yesterday.

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 6.36.09 PM

In another post I’ll be sure to talk about how easy it is to take your great idea, skill or product from a Facebook page to a professional business.

The point of what I am doing is to provide small business, et al with the tools that will make them standout. Through this new client, I myself have come across a lot of inexpensive tools which can be utilized to do everything from creating a logo, building a website and even creating your own personalized email address (e.g. info@bridgetbeckles.com).

If you’re nervous about doing it on your own, feel free to give me a shout. I’m smack dab in the middle of building my portfolio and would love nothing better!

So, until I actually sit and write about the new tools that I’ve come across, here are a few things that you can either Google or ask around about:

1. Gimp – this is a photo editing tool much like Adobe Photoshop, except that it’s free (an absolute plus for a grad student). Similar to Photoshop, it isn’t the simplest application to use but There are many tutorials on YouTube as well as blog posts around the web.

2. PicMonkey – this is another photo editing tool but is web based and is much simpler to get the hang of. There is a wide variety of fonts, overlays, textures and shapes.

3. Weebly – I used Weebly to build this website. I find that it’s very much user friendly and the pricing is cheaper than other similar services.

So do some digging around and tell me what you think in the comments section of this post.

Well it’s Christmas Eve, so have a very Merry Christmas tomorrow and many blessings for the new year.

Toodles!

What’s your PR style?

Bridget B. No Comments

PR

In my last blog post Proof Before You Post, I mentioned that your organization’s stakeholders (clients, potential customers, investors, partners) will have most of their interaction with you or your brand via published words. By “published words” I mean; your website or blog, your business card, your Facebook page or even your Tweets. Have you considered what you have been portraying about your brand through these mediums?

Is your website cluttered? Or is it minimalistic? Do you post multiple times a day on your Facebook page or do you post one vague status per week? Is your Twiitter language passive or aggressive? What kind of colours do you use for your brand? Did you print your business card on rigid board or a floppy type of paper?

I’m currently working with a baby & kids boutique, one of the first things I noted was that the business did not have any clear “trademark”; no brand colour, font style, or even consistent language. If you were to Google a big brand like Coca Cola, you will notice that their branding (colour and language) is consistent across platforms. That is, if you are looking at their Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitter accounts, you will always know which company’s profile you’re on.

So if you haven’t quite figured out your ‘Style’, do some research on different brands or businesses that are in your industry. Pay close attention to how they have positioned themselves. As you look at more websites, blogs and social media profiles, you will eventually come up with your own way of doing things.

Keep in mind that your personal style may not be the best fit for your business. As you determine your business’s PR Style, you will create a footprint that is uniquely yours. Don’t be afraid to try varied styles until you find what suits you best.

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About Blog

I blog about communication and marketing strategies for small businesses, consultants and non-profits. I am specifically interested in how digital communication can be used to improve organizational reputation and growth of the business.

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