Strategic public relations work is best demonstrated in the crisis that doesn’t happen. Managing a brand’s reputation can require PR heavy lifting, and it can prevent the high heart rates brought on by a major media crisis. In part 1 of this series, you learned that moving your clients away from the defensive proclamation of all the work they’ve done is a first step. Recognizing that audiences have shifted their tolerances and that consumer pressure takes a different form when parlayed as an activist group is also essential when building a reputation management program.
But beyond this foundation-building, companies can better leverage their sustainability and ethical claims. In this, part 2 of a series, learn how sustainability and ethical pillars can be best communicated for long-term relationship management with key audiences.
- Industries can benefit from reinvention. Change for change’s sake doesn’t provide a sustainable model. Consumers have not only collectively changed their minds about what should be in their food, how their cars should perform, or how much accountability brands owe them, but also changed how they want to receive information and what can be delivered. Through their social equity, brands can tout the work they do to align with consumer and activist demands, whether it be conservation work, sustainability, ethical sourcing, employment success, or community engagement. Marketers should refocus and more actively rebrand challenged industries (such as food, animal entertainment, or chemicals) to be more than just about their products. They can lead a conversation on the issues such industries can positively impact — through innovation and discovery — and broaden the possibilities. The industry then becomes known not only for the challenges it faces, but also the positive impact it makes.
- Companies must address sustainability as holistic and not simply an add-on. Advancing new standards is only as good as marketers’ adherence to them. To make claims to sustainable practices simply acknowledges a business has caught up to the table stakes of these industries. Advancing these practices, implementing them in new ways, and tethering sustainability success to the success of the business is more transformational. Sales don’t return simply because a brand is talking more about the ways it has answered consumers’ concerns. Rather, tethering consumers’ concerns to education and environmental practices means the efforts a brand has made to alleviate reputation missteps have now become tools to expand the conversation and change consumer behavior. A lack of reputation management often means companies find themselves mired in crisis management instead. Reputation management — innovating along the way, acknowledging your brand’s role in cultural change, and more — could preserve sales and, more important, goodwill.
Want to read more on reputation management? Download our full guide here.
Angie Greving is a Team Leader in Public Relations and Reputation Management at Bader Rutter. She delivers strategic counsel, content, social media and issues management for food and agriculture clients. For more than a decade, she has helped clients shape and execute plans for issues management, corporate communications and corporate social responsibility.