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Posts Tagged ‘reputation management’

March 11th, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different…

Banks and Financial Services companies obviously need a PR face-lift.  With public opinion and trust levels plummeting to new lows some are ready to try completely different approaches.  Such is the case with the current Goldman Sachs website.

The corporate feeling, powerful, almost graphic-free save for a logo imagery we are all used to seeing for Financial Services homepages is gone – replaced with a site that looks more like it belongs to a non-profit organization for empowering women.  At first glance I thought I had made a mistake in typing the domain name, then I saw the Goldman Sachs logo placed subtly in the upper corner.

The new design highlights the firm’s philanthropic efforts far more prominently than any of their asset management services.  It’s clear the firm and their PR team is trying to project a more friendly, approachable – or for lack of a better phrase “warm & fuzzy” – image.  An interesting change to say the least, but will it help with the current public relations crisis the industry is going through?

Note: Archive.org was, unfortunately, unable to give me a screenshot of how the site used to look.  However, for comparison purposes the previous homepage design was a cross between Fidelity’s and Merrill Lynch’s.

February 17th, 2009

So, What’s the Difference Between PR and Marketing?

The terms are used almost interchangeably by some people, especially those in the growing social media/blogging for business area of expertise.  So, what exactly is the difference between public relations and marketing?

We think it boils down to the fact that marketing is all about the sale, and while this is (hopefully) an outcome of PR efforts it isn’t necessarily the main goal.   Good PR is based on the idea that any sort of success is derived from a mutual satisfaction between companies and their customers/clients.  This leads to more relationship management and conflict resolution type activities, with the PR person acting as a sort of go between for those involved, fostering goodwill along the way.

Marketing, on the other hand, is focused on the sale and ‘the bottom line’.  Remember those persuasive talks assigned in speech classes?  That’s marketing – it’s more about playing up the good, downplaying the bad, figuring out what people want and how to get them to think they want your product or service.

So why do companies focus so much time and energy on public relations if marketing’s domain is to influence actual sales?  Because when all other factors are equal consumers will buy from the company they like more, the one with the better reputation.  Some have referred to marketing as PR’s evil twin, always focused on the money and sometimes undercutting the efforts of PR – and the line between the two gets blurred when PR people start focusing on ‘image’ and the way a product is presented.

The truth is you need both, and it’s probably a better idea to keep them at least a little separate.  Marketing is essential to any business, it drives sales.  But what happens when a communications-related crisis pops up?  Personally, we’d rather have someone on deck trained in crisis management to do damage control and repair professional relationships than leave the task to a component of our sales force.

What do you think?

February 9th, 2009

Online Reputation Management Matters

A new survey, Online-Reputation Management, from Weber Shandwick reports that 67% of top execs feel that their company’s reputation is vulnerable online.

This isn’t news to many PR/Online-Marketing people that work ‘in the trenches’.  The social nature of today’s internet allows for many more potential reputation damaging situations, and the fact that execs seem to be sitting up and taking notice is great.  The report shows that a majority of execs are worried about e-mails that can end up in the wrong hands, in fact 87% of execs admit to having accidentally sent or received some type of electronic message – and about 27% admitted to doing it intentionally.

Aside from rogue emails and traditional media outlets, companies (and their PR people) should be paying attention to their reputation in social media circles.  Especially in rough economic times, when layoffs are at high levels and pensions/compensation often suffer, employees are more likely to be dissatisfied and perhaps be tempted to bad mouth their employers online.  Only about a third of execs admitted to knowing about an employee engaging in this type of activity and their response to the problem is to pay attention to employee satisfaction surveys, attempting to resolve the issue before the employee takes action.

Perhaps the most alarming section of the report was that only 10% of execs consider building relationships with prominent bloggers is an effective strategy for online reputation management.  Depending on the industry this could be a mistake, bloggers and online personalities can wield a great deal of influence over their readers and having a good relationship with them could lead to great PR opportunities – or at least help to avoid potential online reputation crises.

Online reputation management is an increasingly important component of any company’s PR efforts.  While execs obviously realize this, they need to include newer social media strategies, as well as their more traditional strategies, in their efforts to manage the brand’s reputation online.

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