Many of us are out there hitting the PR circuit to build a following for our brand, organization or product, but how do we determine if our efforts to-date have been successful?
What’s your relationship status?
We often talk with clients about two main categories of relationships:
- An exchange relationship: Person A does something for Person B only because B has provided benefits in the past or will do so in the future. It’s an exchange of something, for something.
- A shared relationship: Person A and Person B both act out of genuine concern for the welfare of the other and value the relationship without expecting anything in return.
Exchange relationships are the most common, but shared are the strongest. You probably have a mix of both. A good goal for winning your audience is to move steadily from exchange relationships to shared relationships.
Get to the action already!
There’s a scale we often use to build momentum among a given audience. It has four steps: 1) Awareness, 2) Understanding, 3) Engagement, 4) Action… In basic terms:
I think I’ve maybe heard you have a new product.
Oh, yeah, I kinda sorta stumbled across your company’s website once.
You design fashion apps and I know you have a new one coming out soon.
I know what you’ve blogged about because I occasionally lurk there.
I’ve talked to my friends about your product.
I once posted a review of your latest launch.
I bought your product.
I’m a blog follower and comment regularly.
The goal is to move people from Awareness to Action. You might have 1,000 people who are peripherally aware of your company, but those numbers don’t matter much until you can convince your audience to go out and spend money on your products or services, or actively support your efforts to build a larger following. The volume isn’t as important as the level of engagement.
Take a look at your audience so far. What stage in the spectrum do they fall into? And how can you move them closer to Action?
You don’t need to be a perfectionist or have a degree in marketing to appreciate a brand style guide. This guide acts as a quick references for use of your logo and brand elements. It’s a great tool to ensure your brand is being used correctly and consistently by everyone—internally and externally.
Whether your company is over 100 years old or newly up and running, we always recommend having a brand style guide and directions for where to find it and how to use it. Here’s why:
- A style guide legally protects your brand. Committing your brand standards to paper and showing how to use your logo and brand elements consistently puts your company in a better position if another organization’s brand starts to look like yours.
- By maintaining consistency across all communications pieces, you strengthen your company’s brand and increase awareness of what makes your company stand out among the crowd.
- Where else can you clarify the “dos and don’ts” of using your company’s logos, colors, fonts and other brand elements? A style guide eliminates the anxiety of a discolored or misshapen logo ending up on a final printed piece or large apparel order. This is especially important for individuals who do not use your brand on a daily basis, such as graphic designers or printers.
A style guide is relatively quick to make and you will begin to see its effects internally right away. It also makes your brand stronger in the long-run, and we all associate great companies with strong brands.
So, does your organization need a brand style guide after all?
In the warm afterglow of the GOP Presidential debates last night here in Milwaukee, I was reminded of the long and close connection between politics and public relations, my chosen profession after several years in politics.
Public relations and politics have been two firmly entwined concepts since the beginning of recorded history. Consider Aristotle and his schools of rhetoric that taught the art of persuasive communication. Consider the pamphlet written in 64 B.C. on how to wage and win an election.
Public relations plays a role in politics and government policy by influencing public opinion to support or oppose a certain candidate, piece of legislation or a cause.
How PR Plays ‘Politics’
PR plays a great role in politics by contributing directly to three main objectives:
- Increase Awareness Among Targeted Audiences. The PR publicity is a great tool to gain awareness for a candidate and/or cause. Whether through mass media exposure, special events or targeted direct communication, making candidates’ names known to voters is a basic function of public relations. Candidates can’t win if voters don’t know their names.
- Educate Targeted Audiences. Providing voters with enough information to develop an understanding of candidates’ position is another public relations strategy closely tied to politics. Knowing who’s running is important, but once they have an awareness of who’s in the contest, understanding where each candidate stands on the issues becomes a priority.
- Prompt Target Audiences to Think, Feel Say and Do Something. With modern-day public relations, another dimension comes into play, one that moves public relations beyond publicity and the use of one-way messages and toward two-way communication. At the highest level, this two-way approach allows for both persuasion of the public and modification of the politician with an eye to bringing both to that most valuable of outcomes: mutually beneficial relationships.
Three Key Developments
Since the mid-90′s, the dominance of mass communications has been sapped by three interrelated developments. The introduction of the permanent campaign which has blurred the difference between campaigning and governing so that politicians seek to dominate the agenda every single day. There also has been an increase of public relations and marketing professionals transferring their skills to the political arena and vice versa. The growing importance of new communications technologies, like the Internet and other new media, has encouraged political actors to use a much wider range of public relations tools. Political communicators don’t rely on one dominant channel to reach their target audiences, nor does public relations.
In short, public relations and politics are all about:
- Media management (controlling messages)
- Image management (protecting an identity or brand, relationship building, etc.)
- Internal communication (engaging people within the party and controlling opinionated messages)
- Information management (gate-keeping)
How political are you?
- Jeffrey Remsik, president and CEO
Think of a brand refresh as a “makeover” that gives your organization the opportunity to change how it is perceived. Not in a chaotic, over-haul kind of way, but in a more fresh, current and visual way.
When is the right time to rebrand or refresh?
This can be a tricky question for some. Before making your decision, ask yourself:
- Is there or will there be a fundamental shift in your organization’s experience or service?
- Does your current brand look too out-of-date or stale?
- Do you feel you have lost touch with your target audience?
- Do you feel your organization needs a positive change to keep old consumers interested and your new prospects wanting more?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to refresh your organization’s brand.
Below are some key points to keep in mind when it’s time to give your brand a makeover:
- Ensure your company image stays current and up to date
- Integrate new services or tweak old ones to maximize the company’s potential
- Infuse new energy into your business by expanding the reach to new customers
- Change your logo and or color palette only if you feel it is not as strong as you’d like, but be wise in this decision – tweak, don’t over-haul
- Look at your visual identity and messaging
- Simplify – it can help ensure a brand’s new look will be more timeless
Refreshing your brand can be a fun, creative and insightful way to improve the overall positioning of your organization.