Category Archives: Public Relations

When Things Go Wrong, You Have To Own It

The recent crisis for Boeing (resulting from the 737 Max accidents) has prompted a flurry of think pieces analyzing Boeing’s response, and what sets apart the businesses and brands that manage to retain consumer trust and loyalty in the face a major crisis.

What is the ideal playbook for a response to a crisis of this magnitude? I’d argue Johnson & Johnson established the gold standard all the way back in 1982 when seven people in the Chicago area died after taking cyanide-laced capsules of Extra-Strength Tylenol.
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Brands that Embraced Transparency to Create Success

Millennials require transparency. A generation that came of age with information at their fingertips, they are reshaping the way brands communicate their values, their product’s benefits, and even their supply chains. From food to politics, healthcare, and employment, millennials’ “Self, Society, and Planet” ethos drives them to understand how their purchasing decisions impact themselves, their communities, and the environment.

This requires brands to communicate in new ways. Either they embrace transparency and authenticity and retain control of their narrative, or they drive consumers to third-party sources of information that may or may not present them in a positive light. Either they communicate directly with consumers on social media or they are talked about without a seat at the table.

These brands have responded proactively to millennial consumers’ desire for transparency and created success as a result:
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Millennials & Transparency: Beyond Branding & Marketing

The millennial generation’s “self, society, and planet” ethos has had a big impact on branding and marketing practices. Their primary concern is transparency. As consumers, they want to understand how products are made, where they are sourced, and how they impact the communities that create and consume them. Brands who embrace transparency are able to build trust, convey authenticity, and gain the loyalty of this major demographic.
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Go Direct: How to Reach Consumers in the Era of “Fake News”

Richard Edelman, a leading expert in public relations and marketing, recently gave a speech at the University of Notre Dame addressing the crisis in consumer trust. His firm, Edelman, is a long-standing chronicler of consumer trust in institutions including business and government (we’ve covered past Edelman Trust Barometer results on our blog). In 2017, their global survey found that “trust is in crisis around the world” with trust in media and government reaching record lows since before the Great Recession of 2008.

The results for 2018 offer little hope for rebounding from the previous year. The most recent Trust Barometer “reveals a world of seemingly stagnant distrust” as “people’s trust in business, government, NGOs and media remained largely unchanged from 2017.” What the survey does offer, alongside Edelman’s recent remarks, is a potential way forward for those companies seeking to re-earn and re-establish the goodwill of their consumer base.
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Lenses of Interpretation: Hermeneutics in Branding

The concept of hermeneutics – introduced to me by the remarkably intelligent Rodger Nishioka – is that we all have various “lenses” through which we interpret the world around us. These may be immutable characteristics such as age and race, or changeable ones such as level of education, location, or job status. The unique way we each process information is related to the combination of lenses through which we receive it.

We recently explored the potential behind a hermeneutics-inspired approach to consumer segmentation in marketing and advertising. These lenses of interpretation are a kind of inverse of the typical approach to consumer segmentation – separating people into various demographic groups (from the outside in) and targeting them with messages that are calculated to resonate. The hermeneutic approach suggests an internal lens, allowing us to attempt to see through a consumer’s eyes by understanding the factors that influence their perception.

How might this concept help us create brands that attract a wide audience and inspire ongoing relationships?
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Consider the Stakeholders: Analysis & Decision-Making to Create Value

No one makes decisions alone. Especially in this technologically interconnected age, we are beholden to the interests and opinions of many groups of people: consumers, investors, brand enthusiasts, industry influencers… the list goes on. Each has a distinct point of view, an interest in the outcomes of our decisions, and often an investment of time, money, interest, and even reputation on the line.

When so many parties are stakeholders in the choices made by companies, brands, or influencers, how can we be certain that we are meeting the demands of our many constituent groups? How can we capture and consider the interests of our stakeholders? Enter Stakeholder Analysis – the process by which an organization can analyze the priorities and interests of various parties involved in a project or decision in order to create understanding and build consensus.
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Making A Movement: REI’s #OptOutside Turns Branding into Meaningful Action

In our exploration of successful, authentic brands, we’ve discovered a number of recurring themes. Brands that stand out in the minds of consumers aren’t shy about sharing their purpose. They’re aware of and intentional about the value they’re promising to their customers and how they deliver it. They know that a great customer experience really starts with taking care of their employees. They understand the power of words (especially taglines) in communicating their value, and they back those words up with action.

One enduringly successful brand, the outdoor lifestyle-focused REI (which is celebrating 80 years this year), has taken the concept of brand action to new heights in recent years. Their OptOutside movement boldly reshapes the status quo among retailers and provides a powerful model for brands that want to turn their brand image into a signifier of something greater.
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