Drive positivity in a sea of negativity

Brand-building PR is now being taken seriously but keeping positive conversations going is the key to proving its value.

Public relations is stepping out from the wings and is no longer the understudy to advertising. Nor is PR suffering stage fright about how to approach social but is using its skills in content creation and delivering relevant and meaningful conversations to build brands and consumer trust. 

We are seeing a new optimism in the industry that ­marketers are increasing the share of their budget allocated to PR and are turning to PR firms for non-traditional services including digital and social media work. This, of course, is in addition to growing concern about corporate reputation and responsibility.

So when corporate and brand reputation is taking a beating perhaps the answer is to keep positive conversation going. I see the opportunity for comms directors to use brand-building PR more strategically, driving value for brands. More investment in brand-building PR can help tackle some of the reputational issues brands and companies face through addressing societal needs. Brand PR also becomes the voice of the brand in taking on the rise of consumer authorship, particularly in social. 

That said, sometimes consumer PR still does not always get the parts it deserves but often remains in the chorus as an amp­lification tool. The problem is perhaps in part due to measuring impact and its value, as well as the undetermined nature of where and how far the PR conversation will travel.

Good PR travels and bad PR goes nowhere and therein lies the question of where shall I invest my marketing and PR spend? Is it on tangible elements or non-guaranteed elements that rely on the advocacy of consumers or influencers or interest from media? Brand PR versus corporate PR also plays an important role in social media and direct-to-consumer conversations when a more authentic voice is needed.

Understanding the value of positive coverage in a sea of negative is arguably the most debated issue facing the industry. There are lots of measurement tools but earned media never quite cuts the mustard compared with the perceived value of paid media.

Smart planning and integration are the most effective ways consumer PR can make a positive impact on building value for a business or a brand.

If we don’t put our point of view forward then someone else will. Today context and content is essential for brands to maintain a relevant profile and positive dialogue.

We are in a consumer-driven economy that is demanding trust, and comms plays a big part in that.

Getting the balance of effort and spend right between corporate and consumer PR is also key as both have a role in tackling some of the broader reputational issues.

Driving positivity in a sea of negativity needs substance and content and requires investment. Putting company and brand values at the forefront to tackle social issues or be a solution to consumer problems will demonstrate the difference between storytelling and story doing.

Joan O’Connor is head of brand PR, Coca-Cola North West Europe and Nordics

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