As discussed in Part I: The Voice Behind the Brand, public relations plays a pivotal role in branding. But what are some actionable ways PR can help brand a company? The following list includes ways that PR helps brand a company:
1. PR helps with brand education.
Take a look at Whole Foods Market’s blog, Whole Story. It shares recipes and photos, tips to keep your kids healthy, product ingredient FAQs and spotlights on local vendors. Public relations, in this instance a blog, is helping Whole Foods position itslef as an environmentally responsible food market that supports organic growth and community involvement, while educating the reader on the sources and ingredients of the food, on the company as a whole, and essentially on its core values.
2. PR helps with brand loyalty.
Certain public relations tactics help create a sense of belonging and of community. For example, Method’s People Against Dirty Newsletter provides exclusive deals, sneak peeks of products, etc. These “insider” deals aren’t provided to everyone – they are for the loyal, and loyalty is rewarded.
3. PR helps with credibility and authenticity.
In 2011, the American Red Cross avoided a potential PR crisis. The organization’s social media specialist sent out a tweet via the organization’s Twitter account that read: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd.” The organization removed the post after tweeting: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” American Red Cross stayed true to itself by being authentic.
4. PR helps manage brand crises.
PR functions, such as talking points development, media training and crisis management, play an important role in branding. Take a look at this FedEx Delivery Gone Bad. Now, check out this response from the VP of FedEx Express U.S. Operations: FedEx Response to Customer Video. This company is a model of how storytelling channels such as YouTube can be used to address a situation head-on. The FedExexecutive was honest. He apologized for the instance. He made a promise to the customers and said what the company was doing to correct the problem. He educated the audience of the company’s motto. A+ all around.
5. PR helps with the total brand experience.
A few years ago, social media guru, Peter Shankman, wrote a post detailing a Twitter interaction with Morton’s Steakhouse. Morton’s example of superior customer service played an important role in Shankman’s total brand experience. But it all started with social media engagement. Read the full story at “The Customer Experience and Your Brand.”
6. PR helps internal brand building.
Your employees bear your logo, spread your word, and humanize your brand, so great opportunity lies within them. One way Zappos practices internal brand building is through the creation of a microsite called “The Zappos Family.” There you will find its core values, videos like this one, and a link to The Zappos Family Culture Blog.
7. PR helps humanize a brand.
Southwest Airlines is a master at humanizing its brand, among many things. The company has a bright personality that it shares in various ways – from its social media posts to its award-winning company blog to its LUV Mail, highlighting stories about the company’s “legendary customer service.”
8. PR helps foster 2-way communication.
Two-way communication, otherwise known as engagement, is of utmost importance. It is the idea that companies are not just shouting out their messages. They are fostering conversation around their messages. Nike has a separate Facebook page for each of its product categories. So let’s just look at one, my personal favorite, Nike Running. The account engages with followers by answering questions about running shoes, NikePlus, marathon training, etc. This company is keeping up the conversation.
These 8 steps are just a few examples of ways that public relations plays an integral role in branding a company. Click here to read Part I: 3 Steps to Developing the Voice Behind the Brand.