Every PR pro wants to know the secret sauce behind successful brands’ ability to increase awareness, grab media placements, and build consumer loyalty.
Good communication comes from strategies that break through the noise, and experts from brands such as Domino’s, Mary Kay, Guitar Center, and Ubisoft are sharing those strategies at our Corporate Communications Conference in Dallas on Nov. 12.
We hope you’ll join us there, but in the meantime, here are five lessons from our presenters:
1. Create the right messages. Your audience won’t know what you want them to do unless you tell them clearly—and often.
Mary Jo Polidore, VP of communications and public affairs for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, said PR strategies should support business objectives. That’s not always the case.
If you’ve ever watched a commercial or read an advertisement and wondered what was going on, you’ve recognized there’s a gap between branding goals and the creative messaging.
Consumers need to hear a message several times in order to respond to it, and the better your brand’s messaging aligns with specific objectives, the more success you’ll see.
2. Tell a great story. A compelling story can launch your brand into the spotlight—and your customers’ minds.
Michael Beadle, Ubisoft’s associate director of public relations, said riveting stories have overtaken the “old-school smile-and-dial,” as editors and journalists are looking for much more than just a plea to mention your product in writing.
It’s important to develop your characters, plot, and narrative in brand journalism. Without solid story components, your tale is just as flat as a boring press release.
3. Have crisis communications ready to go. Domino’s learned important lessons after the release of a video showing two of its employees tainting food. Within hours, the video had garnered hundreds of thousands of views, and the social media sphere dropped a big mess in front of Domino’s brand managers.
Tim McIntyre, in recounting the crisis, said the decision to not immediately place an apology on the company’s website was intentional. “Do you put out a candle with a fire hose?” he asked.
However, the situation was worse from the lack of response to critics. From that episode, the pizza chain has learned not only to be prepared for these moments, but to listen and use those critical voices to strengthen the brand.
The key to making crisis communications one of your breakthrough strategies is to be proactive instead of reactive. Sandra Fathi said what was once a day or two timeframe on mainstream media has decreased to hours, and sometimes even minutes, on social media platforms.
Brand managers can stay ahead of the game and quench fires quickly and effectively if they have a crisis plan in place and are consistently monitoring trends and situations that can damage them.
4. Understand how and what to measure. All PR efforts are not created equal, and for many pros, correctly measuring “soft” goals such as “trust” and “sentiment” is crucial.
Christopher Bennett, VP of communications and corporate affairs for Guitar Center, says PR pros must know the difference between outputs and outcomes. Though they both have value, they are not the same.
Outputs are generally the products and services a brand offers its customers; outcomes are things such as changed customer behavior or the knowledge gained from campaign efforts. Each can influence the other, but it’s important to understand the difference when evaluating analytics and actions.
There are several general tips to social media analytics, and good strategy includes not just implementing best practices, but also using the most valuable measurements to show the overall success of the campaign.
5. The entire company should work together. Silos kill campaigns.
Kim Thompson, senior director of strategic communications at Whirlpool, had to look at the company’s branding efforts in a new light after her CEO told the team to “fix PR.”
Getting past low-scale turf battles, the team worked on a corporate newsroom that bought everything together. Communicators not only learned how to collaborate, but also found their efforts working better.
Organizations with disconnected departments often see stunted innovation, scattered messaging, and difficulty getting PR, marketing, and social media efforts to sing.
What strategies have helped you break through humdrum PR efforts? Join us Tuesday, Oct. 28, in our #RaganSocial Twitter chat at 2 p.m. Central Time and share your thoughts.
[RELATED: Ragan Consulting Group can help you find, tell and share your organization's compelling stories in any format]
Beki Winchel is the co-editor of PR Daily.