By Kate Perrin, CEO PRofessional Solutions, LLC
This is PRofessional Solutions’ 25th anniversary and while I credit its longevity to providing excellent PR temp services, equally important has been leveraging the reach of our marketing time and dollars through organizations like PRSA-NCC who spread our message to our target audience.Fish Where You Know the Fish Swim
Small business owners must find ways to get noticed and demonstrate competence. Membership organizations provide many ways to do that. Our target audience is communicators and those who employ them, so where better to focus than on PR professional societies?
Each business needs to identify the best ways to highlight itself, but we’ve identified three roles you can play that membership organizations appreciate and will put your firm in the spotlight:
Be a Supporter – Become a sponsor either of the organization or of one of its events. Donate to auctions that support its programs or causes. Contribute to its large events. This gets your firm’s name visible to leadership, members and participants. And be sure to attend yourself.
Participate! – Make yourself or key members of your organization available to write for the membership organization’s newsletter, website or blog. Participate in its mentorship programs.
Demonstrate Knowledge and Expertise – This can mean serving as speaker, panelist or moderator for the organization’s programs, but also consider opportunities that highlight the accomplishments of others. Nominate worthy members for the organization’s highest professional recognition. Or, work with the organization to create events or scholarships which may be linked to your business’ support that will build future industry talent or highlight outstanding industry achievers.
These roles have real value to the organization of which you’re a sponsor and its member at the same time they are valuable marketing approaches for your firm.
By Karen Naumann, APR, Vice President at Susan Davis International
Apologies abound. From political figures, religious institutions, entertainers, corporations, there seems to be an apology issued in the public domain every week.Crisis Response
For professional communicators, the apology is an attempt to restore the image of the entity or person, preserve the business/organization, and minimize damage after a crisis. However, simply saying “sorry” is not the proper response for every crisis as academia’s Situational Crisis Communication Theory would inform.
Before taking a message position, culpability should first be carefully considered. Ask, “Was the person or organization actual the victim? Did the situation arise through unavoidable circumstances or unknown factors?” If the answer is “yes,” then “sorry” is not the response.
This is a simplistic framework of crisis message positioning. The content of the crisis response will likely be multi-layered.
Sometimes the foundational messaging framework is followed by necessary instructional information for those affected by the crisis. Instructional information can be actions taken to correct or mitigate the threat of the crisis for stakeholders. Also, expressions of compassion and sympathy may need to be part of the messaging, especially if there was a loss of human life.
Regardless of response message positioning selected, always be transparent, accurate and swift.Once the Smoke Clears
The above addresses crisis response messaging. Issuing the messaging and fielding media inquiries is not the end of the crisis.
Post crisis is comprised of follow up actions and changes to avoid similar crises in the future. The benefit of time to make sense of a crisis may be an opportunity to issue a report stemming from investigations into the crisis and the actions taken to prevent another going forward.
A thorough report can set the record straight and restore faith in an organization.The Best Offense Is a Good Defense
In the end, the best crisis is the one that never happens. Preventing crisis should be job #1 for the professional communicator.
Pre-crisis scenario building is pivotal to that risk management role. Scenario building is a strategic-planning technique that projects multiple future situations for an organization.
While there is no rigid scenario building process, the most respected models are rooted in James E. Grunig’s work. Steps to consider include:
Additionally, actively preparing the crisis response team for the most likely scenarios for an organization is a common initiative led by communicators. These efforts should go beyond the crisis response team to prepare the entire organization from the top down and to open dialogue that promotes deep understanding of what stakeholders think of the most probable crises.
Additionally, communicators, along with internal leadership, should proactively work toward mitigating the circumstances that may lead to the crisis in the first place.
About the Author
Karen Naumann, APR is a Vice President at Susan Davis International, a Washington D.C.-based public relations and public affairs firm. She is a member of the PRSA-NCC Board of Directors.
By Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSA-NCC Writing Workshop Instructor
Before you write anything for professional public relations purposes, you need to review these 25 accepted criteria to ensure that your assignment is well-written, its structure is correct and its content is sensitive to the needs and interests of the target audience.
These criteria apply to all PR writing. They are based on what PR managers, writers, researchers, journalists, editors, teachers and consultants consider as essential based on their professional knowledge, experience and expertise.
Print the list, which is alphabetical, on a large note card or half sheet of paper you can attach to your computer, printer, bookcase or somewhere else close at hand where you can easily read it.
Please share the list with colleagues, students, clients and employers. You have my permission.
About the Author
Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a well-known PR/PA executive, writer, teacher and consultant. He has worked for national and international corporations, nonprofit causes, professional associations and agencies. He conducts writing workshops worldwide. He has taught in China, Japan, Singapore, Italy, Switzerland, Peru, Spain and other countries. Don also teaches graduate public relations courses at New York University and is a senior advisor on PR agency M&A with Gould Partners. He owned and operated The Bates Company, NY/DC-based PR and marketing firm, which he sold after 12 years in business. He is a member of the PRSA-NCC and PRSA-NY chapters, and an honorary trustee of the Institute for Public Relations, which he helped to establish.
Guest post by Heathere Evans
My grandmother lived to 101. On her 100th birthday, I asked her to tell me how she managed to live such a successful life. “Everything in moderation,” she said with a little sparkle in her eye. Who knew that Nana’s simple wisdom would prove to be one of the most effective strategies for personal growth and professional success?
In the work I do as a leadership coach, I see over and over how hard we are on ourselves. We all have things we would like to improve. Perhaps you have a list of what you’d like to stop doing, start doing or change. But even self-improvement needs moderation or we can start thinking we’re not good enough, we’re broken. Before we know it, we’re not feeling good about where we are—ever. It’s classic destination addiction, a term coined by my mentor and friend Dr. Robert Holden that describes a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and with the next partner. This kind of approach to “self-improvement” is the No. 1 cause of self-induced stress.
But what if there’s actually nothing about you that needs to be fixed?
How to Evolve Our Limiting Traits
Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong or broken about any of us. Inside what we consider to be “negative” traits and behaviors we’d like to improve are simply aspects of ourselves that need to be recognized, brought to the surface and strengthened. Most often, our success depends on the ability to make that shift to the strongest parts of who we are quickly and adeptly.
Think of aspects of your (or anyone’s) personality as existing on a spectrum. Limiting traits are on the lower/weaker end and more productive traits are on the higher/stronger end. To reach our full potential, we need to learn to evolve low-end traits to the highest end of the spectrum, so they actually become personal strengths.
This level of growth often takes some coaching, but every aspect of your personality has a gift to give you. The key is to stop looking outside and start strengthening what’s within. Below are four examples of how personality traits perceived as negative are nothing less than strengths in disguise.
PERSONALITY TRAIT SPECTRUM
WEAKEST POSITION –> STRONGEST POSITION
Self-Doubt –> Skilled Inquiry
If you’re running self-doubt as information or evidence, then it becomes a block. But one of the most important skills of successful leaders is asking the tough questions! Give the Inner Doubter a new job—helping you build powerful skills in inquiry.
Complaining –> Requesting
Recently I worked with a team in the midst of an organizational change that had not gone well. As a result, lots of people were frustrated and complaining. What do leaders do when we notice we’re caught in complaining? Create a powerful request. The aspect of the personality that notices when things could be improved is an important part of who we are. We want to embrace it and give it a job that supports our success by making requests that improve things in our offices and our lives.
Inner Critic –> Inner Coach
The consistency of the Inner Critic is unmatched in its ability to support our success when it is shifted into the Inner Coach. The inner conversation that was negative switches over into one that is encouraging, supportive and helpful.
Relentless self-improvement can mask feelings of not being good enough and keep us from realizing the gifts of who we are. As we grow as leaders in our lives and our workplaces, let’s embrace and evolve our personalities. Here is a coaching exercise to get you started:
Coaching Exercise: In what parts of your personality do you think “this needs to change about me” or “this needs to be fixed”? See if you can name one talent or skill you have related to it.
About the Author: Heathere Evans, APR is a leadership consultant known for her emotional intelligence workshops and coaching programs that help transform cultures, individuals and brands. She can be reached at pivotincorporated.com, on LinkedIn and IG @coaching.evolved.
By Grayson Kemper, Senior Content Writer for Clutch
People value and increasingly reference online reviews for your company during their vetting process for services providers.
Reviews are the online form of word-of-mouth marketing. Evidence shows that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
According to a recent survey, almost all consumers (97 percent) take customer reviews into account as they are making purchases. In addition, customers spend over 31 percent more on a business that has predominantly positive reviews on their site.
These statistics demonstrate that online reviews can both influence whether a customer decides to partner with or purchase from your company and how much they are willing to pay to do so.
Given these stakes, your business needs to use online reviews to engage people online and improve your public relations. If you can do so, you open the opportunity to make a positive impression of your business, better promote your products, and generate more sales.How Online Reviews Can Benefit Your Business
Reviews can improve your relationship with customers. Customers trust and often engage with online reviews. Reviews also can result in increased customer conversions. Customers who read positive reviews about a business have a 133 percent higher conversion rate.
As clients browse the reviews posted on your site, they will gain more confidence in your products and business as a whole.
Negative reviews can actually work in your favor as well. As long as you handle negative reviews properly, you can prove that your business values excellent customer service.Online Reviews and Directory Sites Help SEO and Web Traffic
There also are SEO benefits to online reviews.
All major search engines offer reviews, such as Google Reviews, particularly for local listings. Allowing your site to be listed and reviewed increases the chances that people encounter and click through to it, which increases your website traffic.
In addition to search engine reviews, you can list your company on directory sites such as Angie’s List or The Manifest. These sites generally rank well in search engine results for a broad array of terms, which presents the opportunity to earn secondary traffic. They also provide an opportunity to demonstrate the results you can produce for your clients, a crucial factor of consideration for every potential client.How to Turn Online Reviews Into PR Tools
Your business should encourage your customers to leave reviews on your site.
Client reviews largely contribute to your company’s reputation. Positive reviews can increase your company’s credibility. Even if you have negative reviews, you can improve your image if you can demonstrate a sincere willingness to fix an issue or improve on past mistakes.
Online reviews are a powerful marketing tool, as they play a significant role in influencing customer purchase decisions. If handled correctly, reviews can be used as a PR tool to improve the reputation of your business.
Grayson Kemper is a senior content writer for Clutch, a B2B research and reviews firm in Washington, D.C. He focuses on marketing and emerging technologies research.