Five Tips for Your Organization’s Reputation Management Strategy

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By Kate Wilhelm

“Reputation management” is a buzz phrase we use a lot in our industry. It can assume different meanings at different times, and take all forms and fashions.

But what it boils down to, simply, is, “What do people think of me? What do they think of my company?”

At its core, reputation management is about developing a brand profile that reaches your audience at the right time with the right message. It’s about getting people to notice you in a positive way.

As the landscape evolves, you need to be prepared for attacks you don’t even see coming. These days, an anonymous Twitter troll can ruin in five minutes a reputation you spent years building up. You need to be prepared for the unseen and unexpected.

This means you may have to change both where and how you show up. Here are some steps we take at Ceisler Media to help our clients build, manage and maintain their reputations:

Define Your Brand

What do you want to be when you grow up? We were all asked that question as children. It still applies to companies and causes. In this case it means, what to you want to be known for? Often, it is the story that goes beyond the product or service you offer – it is the factor that gives you the edge.

Unicorns or widgets, financial services or technology – whatever your company focuses on, others are doing it. So what distinguishes you from the field? Your goal is to promote what’s special about your business. Perhaps it’s a holistic approach to employee wellness. Maybe it is a commitment to philanthropic causes that support our civic ecosystem.

Defining your brand requires moving outside your natural boundaries so people know more about you than your logo or their one-time experience. You never know when you may need to remind them, just in case a crisis arises (more on that later).

Authenticity is Key

You have filled in the blanks and defined your story. But who’s your narrator and what’s their voice? One of my clients explained this perfectly in a planning meeting for a visibility campaign. “We gotta use our swagger,” he said, “that Philly swagger no one else has.” (h/t B.P.).

Any time you want to engage people in your story, you need to be authentic. Our team helps you curate that voice – from tweets to blogs, from media announcements to event sponsorships. We design integrated campaigns that resonate with the people you’re targeting. And we make sure they know it’s the real you – not spin or jargon.

Perhaps the best way to deliver that is an op-ed in a local business journal explaining how to help nonprofits plan during the recent government shutdown. Perhaps you’re Walmart and want connect with the community by organizing an annual electric fan giveaway for seniors every summer. We make sure your message is authentic to who you have set out to be.

Connect and Create

Communities. Constituents. Customers. Ambassadors. Influencers. Each word represents people you need to connect with – people who care about what you’re doing and have to say.

Changing times require new ways to reach those people. As newsrooms trim staff, you must be more creative to share your content and message. Our team provides clients with video services that provide more than the traditional press release or pitch to news desks.

We help you develop lists of influencers – the people best able to spread your message – and then create personalized communications and invitations for them to enjoy exclusive experiences. Those influencers then help share your positive story with their networks.

Perhaps most importantly, we work with you on internal communications – because there is no more important ambassador of your brand than your employees. It’s critically important to keep your employees informed, and we’ll help through newsletters, emails and other internal communications.

Face Lift

Remember that esoteric question – who do you want to be when you grow up? It conjured an image of a person doing something. When you develop a reputation campaign, it focuses on the people – not the places or things. Who is that man or woman behind the CEO title? Whose lives were impacted because of your volunteer days and corporate giving? Let’s hear about them first, before weaving in the stats and metrics. The most-interesting stories always center on real people.

Crisis Afoot, Don’t Panic

@&#% happens. Things don’t always go according to plan. Those unicorns don’t always have rainbows around them; sometimes the widget doesn’t fit.

Crises are best managed when there is a plan. But, let’s be honest, we often receive panicked calls when there is no time to plan. At Ceisler Media, we immerse ourselves immediately, examining the client’s issue from all sides and letting our expert judgment guide the next steps.

It always starts with two core principles: Own it, and be honest. Most clients we work in crisis situations are rightfully nervous about every syllable of every sentence. We partner with legal counsel, business partners and investors to quickly create the appropriate game plan to move forward. We make sure everyone is speaking with one voice; that employees and partners understand the details of what is happening, and who they can contact with questions. When the dust settles, we help our clients move forward – reminding everyone they deal with why they want to stay connected.

The campaigns we create are fully integrated; not just with digital media to mainstream media, but inside the organization and with outside partners. Today, a reputation can be tarnished with a tweet. Our work makes sure you have the army behind you that can share your good works to help combat any trolls who might come your way.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

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Diversity and Inclusion Start with Students: A Campaign Reflection

By Christina Borst

In theory, our task was straightforward: to craft a campaign that raises awareness of the lack of diversity and inclusion in the communications field. In practice, as five students at Temple, we were entrusted with tackling a problem with systemic roots and that enforced the status quo.

With census projections showing that the United States will be considered a majority-minority country by 2045 and the failure of the communications and PR fields to reflect this trend, we knew that we were about to tackle some tough questions. On Temple University’s Bateman Case Study Competition team, we set out to move beyond the diversity conversation and toward profound, sustainable solutions for the good of the industry that we will soon inherit.

For us, the need for more diversity and inclusion in the field is not the problem for which it has been historically labeled; rather it is an opportunity for talent of all backgrounds and experiences to be celebrated and be given a voice. This holds especially true for communicators who are tasked with successfully sharing the stories of others, ensuring purposeful messaging. As the future of the public relations field, it is the responsibility of young people to understand this.

When issues do not appear to directly affect you, how much do you care? We sought to correct this line of thinking through our campaign with the basis of education, imploring all students to reflect and think about the adversity they have faced. When minority communities are excluded from the field, we are unfairly telling them how they should be advocated for rather than forging opportunities with them. Diversity and inclusion may improve innovation and business performance, but above all else, they are moral imperatives that the students of today must welcome.

Though our campaign, as mandated by the competition, is limited to one month, we have always known that its impact must span far more than this short duration. Diversity is not something that should be revered for just a day, week, or even a month; it should be a necessity everyday of every year. Over the course of the last three weeks, we have connected with local and national audiences and most importantly, our peers. The public relations faculty at the Klein College of Media and Communication have learned about the resources needed to make every classroom a safe space to embrace diversity. Diverse Voices, a book profiling 40 diverse PR practitioners, has been made accessible in our library. Students have written personal action statements, dedicating themselves to make diversity and inclusion happen. Communications specialists across Philadelphia have helped us found a book club that will allow students to forge a network with diverse professionals. Our efforts have been guided by one goal: to create change that lasts.

Our campaign may be coming to a close, but for us, it is only the beginning.

Company Diversity Needs to Be More Than Checking a Box

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By Lailumah Faisal

There are a few things that I have learned people typically don’t discuss in the workplace: personal matters, politics, and diversity.

One problem is, unlike my employers, my diversity is something I can’t leave at the door. It’s not as if I can shed my skin the minute I walk into the office, and I shouldn’t feel like I have to. I should be able to feel included without any issues, but that begs the question: What do I do when I get put in a situation that makes me feel different? When someone asks me something in a certain way that brands me as, “the other”? All of a sudden I begin to question why I am there, and how people view me. Questions flood my mind like, “Am I a color hire? Does everyone see me as a PR practitioner or woman of color first? How should I see myself first?”

I’ve been put in this situation more than once and it’s something that I’ve had to learn to deal with, along with many of my peers. However, it’s time to flip the script and start holding employers to a more accountable standard.

If you want to add more diversity to your team, that’s great. I, along with many others, encourage it. That being said, you can’t treat people like checklists. Just because you’re increasing the number of people of color in your office, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re achieving diversity. Are you actually utilizing them for their unique perspectives, or just using them for your company’s hero image? Do they have a seat at the table or are they standing outside the circle? In simpler terms, are you just inviting them to the party or are you asking them to dance?

Addressing how your company can create efforts to generate more diversity and inclusion is something to consider, especially in the future. There is a change coming in the landscape of PR, and diversity is in that change. Agencies that don’t act will fall behind. If you are unsure where to start, understanding diverse perspectives is a good place to begin. There are numerous ways to do so, like broadening the pool of candidates you consider for your next hire, or working with organizations who can help you develop a more inclusive office environment. There’s even the option of reading and discussing pieces of literature like Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership, that highlight journeys of diverse practitioners. From there, focus on making sure your agency is one that works for everyone.

TEMPLE STUDENTS USE BLACK HISTORY MONTH TO LAUNCH CAMPAIGN FOCUSING ON DIVERSITY IN PHILLY’S PR COMMUNITY

Members of the Temple University chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) are launching a campaign from February 11 to March 11 to educate both students and educators in the Klein College of Media and Communication about the unfulfilled diversity and inclusion opportunity in the PR field. Beginning in Black History Month, the campaign aims to connect diverse practitioners as mentors to students of color through several events, including a Diverse Voices Book Club. The initiative is led by the only Philadelphia team to be entered into PRSSA’s national Bateman Competition. The competition attracts colleges and universities from around the country who are assigned a common client against which they develop and present their best campaign ideas. This year, the client is the PRSA Foundation which provides scholarships and resources to aspiring professionals in order to increase diversity in communication workplaces across the United States.

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The Diverse Voices Book Club is inspired by the book Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership which features the stories of 40 diverse public relations professionals who have overcome adversity throughout their careers. Diverse Voices is the handiwork of the PRSA Foundation. The program is funded by the donations of prominent Philadelphia PR professionals, offering students admission into the book club, a copy of Diverse Voices and a safe space to talk about their experiences while gaining insight from practitioners of color.

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In addition to the book club and a robust social media presence, the campaign will include:

• Placing copies of Diverse Voices in Temple’s Paley Library, allowing all students to access the collection of stories regardless of financial barriers;
• Class presentations to students about the presence and influence of African American and Latinx professionals as “hidden figures” (many from Philadelphia) who have helped shape the public relations field;
• Presentations to faculty by Temple’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership (IDEAL) to better equip educators with the necessary tools to teach and talk about diversity
• A moderated discussion with Temple University’s Black Public Relations Society (TUBPRS) and Provost JoAnne A. Epps, the first African American woman to hold this position on Thursday, Feb. 21st;
• A tour of SEER Interactive, one of the largest agencies in the city headed by a person of color, with Temple PRSSA and TUBPRS on Tuesday, Feb. 26th.

The majority of PR practitioners have historically been white. By positioning the need for diversity and inclusion as an opportunity rather than a deficit, members of the Temple Bateman team hope to move beyond the conversation toward sustainable solutions. Though the campaign has a one month duration, its events have been designed to leave a long-lasting impact that will be felt for years, coinciding with the theme of #Not30But365. The goals of the Bateman competition align with Temple’s tradition of questioning the status quo. Though the program gives public relations students worthwhile campaign experience, the Bateman competition serves a much larger movement.

“Diversity and inclusion are not an HR initiative. It is what we have to do to keep this industry alive and thriving,” said PRSA Foundation President Judith Harrison who oversees diversity and inclusion efforts at Weber Shandwick. “We need to make sure we have the widest range of experiences and perspectives. This is everyone’s responsibility.” Through learning about the diversity and inclusion opportunity, students and educators can become advocates for a necessary and beneficial shift in the field.

Those interested can use #Not30But365 throughout the campaign on social media to engage and foster awareness about the PR diversity opportunity. Follow @TUBateman2019 on Instagram and Twitter and find other digital materials on the Temple Bateman team webpage. Copies of Diverse Voices can be purchased at the Diverse Leadership site by crediting “Temple University” under the Bateman Competition section at checkout. For more information, students and educators can contact Bateman team member Christina Borst at 484-678-3972 or TUBateman@gmail.com.

The 7-Day Challenge to Jump-Start Your Email Marketing in 2019

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By Lauren Willard, AWeber

Every year, 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by the time February rolls around. Launching your email marketing strategy shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s why we created a simple, 7-day challenge to help you dominate email marketing in 2019.

By the end of it, you’ll have launched the most important parts of a successful email marketing strategy. And the best part? You only need 30 minutes or less each day to complete this challenge.

Day 1: Choose your email template and brand it. (30 minutes)

This step is often overlooked. Many people use different email templates every time they send an email. Or, they never fully customize a template to match their brand.

But branding an email template and using it consistently are important. Your brand sets you apart from your competitors. It allows you to be unique and develop a personality for your business. It builds credibility and trust between you and your subscribers. Your subscribers can see your content and immediately tie it back to you.

Step 1: Choose your email template. Find an email template that works with your brand and your message. A plain template is often better than one already filled with colors and background images, because it’s easier to make it your own. Then, add your logo to the top or bottom of the email. (Inside AWeber, there are 8 NEW email templates you can easily customize to fit your branding. Choose the template format you’d like. Then drag and drop to add your images and build the layout you want.)

Step 2: Add your brand colors to your template. Don’t overdo it! Too many colors can be distracting. Try adding your brand colors in just a few places, like your call-to-action buttons, header image, or headlines.

For example, in the welcome email of AWeber’s FWD: Thinking newsletter, we incorporate our brand colors by using a header image with AWeber’s green and blue gradient and a call-to-action button with our brand’s shade of blue.

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Homework: Watch this video on How to Design an Awesome Welcome Email.

To do: Choose an email template and add your logo and brand colors to it.

Day 2: Customize your confirmation message. (15 minutes)

A confirmed opt-in message is an email you send people immediately after they fill out your sign up form. It asks them to verify they want to subscribe to your emails by clicking a link or button in the message.

Confirmation messages are optional but strongly recommended. They serve as proof that your subscribers definitely want to be on your list. So internet service providers (like Gmail and Yahoo!) may deliver more of your messages to the inbox when you use confirmation messages. Plus, it prevents subscribers from signing up using fake email addresses.

To make your subscribers more likely to confirm their subscription, you can follow these common best practices for confirmed opt-in emails:

1. Keep your content short.
2. Explain the value your subscribers will receive by subscribing to your list.
2. Tell them what they need to do to confirm.

Homework: Read Writing Confirmation and Welcome Emails People Love.

To do: Set up and customize the subject line and content of your confirmed opt-in email. (If you’re an AWeber customer, you can follow these directions to complete this step.)

Day 3: Create a sign up form. (30 minutes)

Sign up forms allow your subscribers to easily join your email list. You can promote your form by adding it to your website and sharing a hosted sign up form with your audience. Hosted sign up forms allow you to share your form anywhere, even if you don’t have a website.

Homework: Read 9 Inspiring Sign Up Form Ideas to Grow Your Email List.

To do: Write your sign up form copy and build your form using ideas from the homework post you just read.

Day 4: Write your welcome email (30 minutes)

A welcome email is the first message subscribers receive after joining your list and confirming their subscription. And it gets a lot of attention — on average, open rates are 4 times higher and click-through rates are 5 times higher than other emails, according to marketing research company Experian. You can take advantage of this above average engagement by crafting an excellent welcome email.

Your welcome email should:

1. Welcome subscribers to your email list.
2. Deliver the lead magnet you promised on your sign up form.
3. Explain what kind of content you’ll send subscribers, how often you’ll send it, and what they’ll learn.
4. Introduce yourself or your business.
5. Ask subscribers to add you to their address book. (This is called whitelisting and it can help more of your emails bypass the spam folder.)

Once you draft your welcome email, take some time to personalize it! Personalization makes your subscribers feel you’re writing a message specifically to them. Something as simple as including your subscriber’s first name in the subject line or body of your welcome email can boost opens and clicks.

Homework: Read The One Email You Should Always Send and How Personalization Can Help You Connect with Subscribers.

To do: Write and build a welcome message for your subscribers using AWeber’s Drag and Drop Email Builder.

Day 5: Automate your welcome email. (10 minutes)

You wrote your welcome email. Your next step? Automate it. That way, your subscribers will receive it immediately after they sign up for your list.
Simply create an automated series for new subscribers in your email marketing platform. Here’s how:

1. Build a new automation series in your email marketing platform. Make sure it’s set up to send to every new subscriber.
2. Paste your welcome email content into the template you chose on day 1.
3. Add your welcome email to the series.
4. Activate your series.

Your email marketing system does the rest!

Homework: Read Email Automation 101: How to Use Automation.

To do: Create a welcome series using AWeber’s automation platform Campaigns and add in your welcome email. (Here are step-by-step instructions for setting up your own welcome series in AWeber.)

Day 6: Publish your form on your social media channels. (20 minutes)

Your list is set up and your confirmation and welcome messages are ready to go. Now it’s time to put your hard work to the test and start to grow your list!

An easy first step is turning you social media followers into email subscribers. People who follow your brand on social media have already shown they want to hear from you. And there’s no better way for them to stay up to date on your latest content and sales than joining your email list.

Post a link to your hosted sign up form on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and ask your social followers to subscribe for exclusive updates.

Homework: Read 7 Expert Tricks to Grow Your Email List with Social Media.

To do: Add your sign up form to your Facebook profile and tweet out the hosted URL to your form.

Day 7: Share your sign up form with your connections. (20 minutes)

Reach out to the people you already know, like colleagues, friends, or family members. Ask them if they want to sign up for your email list.

Let them know what content you are offering and explain the benefits they would receive if they sign up.

If they say no, maybe the content you’re offering just isn’t for them. But maybe they know someone it would be perfect for. You never know until you ask!

Homework: Read How To Get Your First 50 Email Subscribers in Less Than 30 Days. Use the fill-in-the-blank copy template in this post to easily reach out to people.

To do: Contact 5 people you know. Send them the hosted URL to your sign up form and ask if they’d like to join your email list or share it with someone they know.

Ready, set, go!

Congrats! If you completed this 7-day challenge, you’re well on your way to launching a successful email marketing strategy.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.