Publilius Syrus once said, “A good reputation is more valuable than money.” Oh, how true that rings!
Over the years, our agency has seen companies boost sales, bolster funding for causes and build incredible corporate cultures by wisely communicating with key audiences and investing in positive, reputation-building activities. Not sure where to begin? Start with these tips, based upon an article we authored for Westchester County Business Journal, and see if you are making the most of these nine ways to keep your reputation on track:
- Aim for consistency. Nothing erodes trust like hearing news about a company in intermittent bursts, where a seemingly random schedule of published items are followed by irregular gaps of radio-silence, or the haphazard appearance of social media posts—including those that look like they’ve come from different people within the organization (yikes!)—that leaves people wondering about a firm’s stability, level of organization and trustworthiness. Follow through on news, whether it’s via a monthly newsletter or weekly podcast, and set formats for communications, help customers know what to expect.
- Lead the dialogue. Speaking and writing about an area of expertise helps others see company leaders as experts and positions a business as the go-to in its industry. Answering the questions of a target audience—such as speaking to the things that keep its C-suite executives up at night—is a surefire way to show how that company can be the solution to another firm’s problems. It also cultivates relationships in advance of closing any business deal.
- Show face. Being visible and communicating H2H, human-to-human, earns the trust of people a business wants to connect with and fosters familiarity. Attending in-person events or utilizing video to have candid conversations with customers fosters personal connections.
- Build goodwill, before you need it. A great reputation is something a company ought to cultivate on an ongoing basis. In fact, having a solid connection to the community makes an organization that much more credible, should it ever need to weather a storm. Sharing acts of corporate giving, internal promotions and award wins can do wonders in creating a positive sentiment around a company.
- Invest in owned media. Brands that neglect the opportunity to create company-owned, curated content that is consistent in its messaging and look across platforms are missing out on a key opportunity. While social media should be a part of every company’s strategy, it’s vital to remember that the rules of the game can change at any time (think of Facebook’s frequent algorithm switches) and that having white papers, an arsenal of blog posts, images and videos and news portals means that no change of technology or pay-to-play model can take away the brand’s assets. So empowering!
- Get smart about social. Zero-in on the most meaningful vehicles for your organization’s needs and get serious about instituting a consistent and meaningful strategy to use them. It is not necessary to spread content thin across all platforms, but, instead, choose a few that have the right audiences and then engage them thoughtfully. Build out a content calendar that draws followers in and moves them to action. This can be done independently, or by hiring an expert to strategize and/or execute on the firm’s behalf.
- Vet and tap micro-influencers. Brand-influencer relationships are more than celebrity endorsements but have become niche internet personalities responsible for moving the needles for companies of all kinds. Mommy bloggers, well-respected business leaders and lifestyle social media stars exist in every community, region and industry and can be powerful in terms of changing minds, hearts and actions. Before engaging an influencer, however, examine the individual’s followers, engagements and tone, to see if there’s a way to cultivate the relationship, and ensure that the influencer is following Federal Trade Commission regulations so that all is on the legal up-and-up.
- Rethink ordinary events. It’s not every day a company has its 50th anniversary or groundbreaking, but many default to common ways to mark the occasion instead of creating stand-apart, curated events. Rethinking how you mark major news—or even if you can turn something seemingly small into a way bigger moment—can make all the difference in how well the event is received and lead to more widespread media coverage or increased attendance.
- Measure as you market. Understanding an initiative’s level of success lets those involved know if a campaign is connecting with target audiences and whether the company is moving in the desired direction. Are you achieving an uptick in stories with a positive sentiment? Has your commitment to sharing your company’s news led to a spike in website traffic or new business? Have you seen a 20 percent increase in event attendance or 30 percent hike in sponsorships? Applying The Barcelona Principles, a set of standards developed by PR practitioners that defines the efficiency of PR campaigns by outcome, rather than output, is essential.
Following these tips will give your organization a great start at building relationships with its target audiences, whether they are clients, customers, donors, volunteers or community members. And that’s something you can bank on.
A version of this article originally appeared in Westchester County Business Journal.