While many may believe the phrase “any publicity is good publicity,” the unfortunate reality is that many companies get hit hard by a negative image. Customers care about what your company does and how it reacts, and their loyalty doesn’t hold firm when your operations don’t live up to their expectations. They could quickly go elsewhere.
You want people to love your company and be ready to fight for that reputation when something amiss happens. Therefore, businesses should consider their public relations strategies, forge positive relationships and learn to mitigate potential PR issues. Get ahead of PR problems to protect your establishment and those who work for you.
1. Listen to current customers
Clients are willing to provide honest and timely feedback, and their data should drive how you tailor your PR approach and company policies. While you can’t bend backward to make everyone happy, you can learn what customers like about your operations and where they see weaknesses.
Invest in customer experience or a CX program that allows you to interact with your shoppers and understand their needs and thoughts about your brand. Professional input could help you bolster your image and identify significant business trends.
2. Have a response plan ready
Don’t sit back and hope that nothing happens. Instead, get proactive, creating a PR response plan to manage and mitigate potentially harmful press. Create a response team of reliable, loyal and level-headed leaders within your organization. Work with them to anticipate potential concerns and how the organization plans to manage these troubles. These professionals should work quickly to identify a situation and work to find a resolution.
3. Establish a positive image from the start
Companies should consistently strive to establish positive images with their customer base. Don’t wait for something to go wrong to make yourself look good. Start from the first day, working to create a reputation. Use social media to your advantage, noting activities and sponsorships.
Forbes magazine reports several factors in building a positive image, emphasizing that clients care about even small details. They stress that seemingly superficial things such as business cards and website construction impact the operation’s image. Choices impact reputation, credibility and brand preference.
4. Remain honest and above board
Don’t hold back. It’s tempting to withhold details about a situation or wait to release a story, thinking it might die in time. However, this approach may blow up in your face if other people in the media find out about the story. It’s better to get in early and share necessary points. This effort demonstrates a desire to help your customers, remain honest and develop loyalty and trust.
Keeping things back leads to questions about a company’s priorities and integrity. Customers may speculate about the general business practices and concern for others’ welfare. Have a PR team ready to go, consulting with legal professionals. Allow them to get ahead of something before it gets out of hand.
5. Talk to and train employees
While you can’t stop everything, you can work with staff to minimize possible issues. Work with HR to train staff, discussing appropriate behavior and use of technology. Discuss potential cyber threats and review how people should work with each other.
Host seminars on potential threats and note why PR remains essential to the company’s reputation. Be clear about contract stipulations and implement policies that protect the business’s image. For instance, do you want your employees to watch what they say on social media? Do interactions outside of the office influence customer perception? Decide what you legally ask of people and what you desire. Then, be straightforward about your expectations.
In addition, have a reporting system available and establish a circle of trust. Employees should feel safe to discuss any issues they see, allowing HR and PR committees to manage situations with early interventions.
Public relations matters. Spend time working with committees and professionals to build a brand people love and trust. Listen to customers’ needs and remain honest and open about potential troubles.