LinkedIn turned twenty years old in 2023 and has undergone much transformation within its two decades. Once purely a place to find and list jobs, as well as connect with peers, the platform has morphed into something more akin to Instagram, or Facebook. It’s no longer just a professional networking site, but a social media platform in its own right.
With 60% of LinkedIn users being between the ages of 25-34 years old, it’s quite possible that the growing presence of millennials and Gen Zs in the job market has driven this transformation. These age groups have grown up alongside the ‘like’ button and understand quantifying the value of something (or someone) in reactions, likes and shares. So, just as Instagram has had influencers for years now, we’re seeing a growing rise of “LinkedInfluencers” today. And leaders in tech are tapping into this trend in a big way.
This has meant that company reputations have begun to blur with the personal reputations of their employees and (crucially) their leaders. Just as many of us take to Instagram and Facebook to showcase who we are and, perhaps unconsciously, to build our own personal brands, CEOs and business leaders are using LinkedIn for the same thing.
Leaders in tech, in particular, have taken to this “LinkedInfluencer” role – and there a few reasons for this. One major one is the crowded nature of the tech space – it’s a constant spinning wheel of opinions, breakthroughs and company news. There’s limited space in magazines and papers to capture everything being said, not to mention limited time with journalists. However, joining the conversation is still crucial and LinkedIn provides this megaphone.
With the tech sector being plagued by skills shortages, LinkedIn has also become a platform for leaders and experts at tech firms to use their presence to entice talent. Many job seekers are looking to be inspired, not only by a company’s work, but by the words and vision of those at the helm. Being viewed as a leader, a fountain of knowledge, and an aspirational figure can be key in both attracting and retaining talent – helping to cultivate the next up and coming generation of leaders.
And of course, remember to work with comms and your PR agency – these partners can help achieve all of the above, as well as create the content to complement the wider communication strategy of your organisation.
Now, usually, over-dramatised docu-series about global superstars telling the world of how tough their lives actually are behind the scenes is not usually my bag. However, as a football fan and as someone who grew up in the 90s, curiosity got the better of me and I watched the recent Beckham documentary in its entirety.
Much of the series is based around the Beckhams, both individually and collectively, and their efforts to shape their reputations – both at the time and in the present day. When you think of 90s British culture it is inescapable to not think of David Beckham, Victoria Adams, and then Posh and Becks. They rose to the absolute pinnacle of British cultural life, meaning their reputations were under unrelenting scrutiny for the best part of two decades.
So, what lessons can Beckham Inc. teach us from a business reputational standpoint?
There are a few other images that are more representative of the 90s than a swarm of paparazzi hounding prominent people in the public eye as they go about their daily business. In this pre-social media age, newspapers ruled the roost. People went down to the local shop to get their daily newspaper, complete with some clever (and many not so clever) headline puns slapped on the front page. However, social media platforms are now the town square. This means that it is not just the journalist and editor of a story that can throw in their two cents, or the photographer who can capture a moment – but the whole world.
To be fair to the Beckhams, being under intense media scrutiny in the 90s, didn’t look that fun. However in today’s age, where anyone you pass in the street has a high-res camera and ability to speak to the world, this could be argued to be worse. Even more of their trips to the shops, drive to school, or dinner at a restaurant would have been broadcast to the world almost constantly.
From a business point of view, this additional scrutiny has put a much great emphasis on the managing of a positive reputation. In the past, all manner of reputational issues that were public may not have made it into mainstream public discourse, whereas now the game has changed. This means that businesses must be aware and cognizant of their every action, always keeping reputation management at the forefront of their minds.
Reputations can be made up of lots of different factors. For example, if David Beckham wasn’t exactly a looker, then perhaps his rise to the top would not have been achievable, but none of this works without substance behind it. Fundamentally, David Beckham was a great footballer. The documentary covers his explosion on to the scene when he scores from the halfway line in a match early in his career – an almost unprecedented feat. His continued rise through the Man United ranks turned him into one of the best midfielders of his generation.
For Victoria it is similar, especially nowadays. Clearly, being part of one of the most successful groups of our time played a big role in the early days. However, she was never considered a world-leading singer – I think of Ali G’s joke when interviewing the pair, ‘Does Brooklyn want to grow up to be a footballer like his dad, or a singer…Like Mariah Carey’. But what has truly propelled Victoria’s reputation since her Spice Girl days is her move into the fashion world. Now the owner of a hugely successful brand, and a leading figure in the fashion world, Victoria has by many metrics surpassed David’s success from a business and monetary point of view.
This is the same in business. Although branding, marketing, communications, image and every other facet of a business’ perception are incredibly important, fundamentally no business can succeed without a great product or offering. It is important that our reputations are built on solid foundations, otherwise when the going gets tough, a reputation may not be able to survive.
Take Beckham’s infamous kick at the 1998 World Cup – getting him sent off, before England went on to be knocked out on penalties by arch-rivals Argentina. Headlines the next day included, ’10 brave lions, and 1 stupid boy’ – a headline that might belong in the ‘not so clever’ camp mentioned earlier. The media attacks were vicious and went on for weeks. He was booed at every stadium he went to, hounded in the street and it was hard to see how he could come out from underneath. His response was to rely on his famed right foot. By focusing on football, and continuing to show his immense talent, he eventually got redemption; not by some clever PR stunt, or grovelling apology, but by scoring the freekick in the dying stages of a match against Greece, allowing England to qualify for the World Cup.
And this for me is where there is a key learning. In the business world, if a reputation takes a hit, of course there will need to be a communications strategy to begin healing the damage. However, one of the best things that can be done is to focus on the core business that got them there in the first place – ensuring that it focuses on its key people, customers and stakeholders. By focusing on rebuilding trust with these people, businesses can rebuild wider trust and move forward.
Oh and finally, David Beckham is a beekeeper. Who would have thought?
This summer, there have been two instances where I have been in a privileged position that has hammered home how impactful PR can be. I am a judge for the PR Week awards this year and read many entries of our industry’s finest work. And I was also at this year’s PRCA International Summit, moderating a panel and hearing from our peers at a global level.
Something came up in both these situations that was an important reminder for me – strategic thinking combined with a good dose of creativity has tremendous impact!
It’s an easy thing to forget when ploughing through the day-to-day task list, but as communicators, we are in a unique position to have a significant impact on our clients’ reputation.
As communications professionals, we are supporting an organisation’s goals and objectives through our work, and that requires us to be strategic in how we do this. If we don’t create impact, we’re just making noise, and so what’s the point!
We are constantly absorbing the news, tracking trending topics and have a good feel for public appetite for certain stories. Having this contextual awareness enables us to get the timing and positioning of our communication right. We know what the conversations are, when it is right to wade in or when it is right to add a new perspective.
At the same time, we’re creatives. We may not get the same recognition as those working in advertising, but our work requires creativity in a world where so many have something to say.
We know and are regularly reminded that facts are boring, and people seek entertainment. You only have to see how far and wide misinformation goes when it feels scandalous, or extreme, versus how far something goes when it’s sensible and correct. Internet bots fuel misinformation, with generative AI not helping matters, meaning creative cut-through couldn’t be more important these days.
Strategy needs creativity and creativity needs strategy
You can have a very strategic communication campaign and you can also have a very creative campaign, but for true success you need to marry both.
During the PR Week award deliberations, there was much discussion amongst the judges on commending very creative work especially when it felt original and fresh. However, the judges and I would often track back to the organisation’s objectives and whether this very creative and fun campaign actually achieved the desired outcome. If it didn’t, it was hard to justify giving it a higher score than an entry that did hit the objectives.
Likewise, creativity came up in many sessions during the PRCA International Summit. Diversity leads to more creativity, generative AI still needs human creativity, young talent bring huge amounts of creativity and keeps them inspired. Creativity, however, is something that is cultivated and has widespread impact on our work, our people and our industry. But for us to have creativity that inspires, it must tie to a strategy that hits a bigger objective than just ‘standing out’.
Strategic thinking and creative ideas are not mutually exclusive and aren’t we lucky as PR experts to bring both together. It’s a powerful combination.
Recently, I was drawn to a story about Google’s antitrust lawsuit. Earlier this month, a trial began that accused Google of monopolising internet search engines, eliminating the ability of rivals to compete. To put it simply, the US Justice Department has accused Google of abusing its power as the most popular search engine – this was done by making deals with wireless carriers to ensure its search engine is the exclusive or dominant option on the devices of millions of consumers.
With search engine optimisation (SEO) serving as a key method for marketing and communications professionals to reach their audiences, this news made me wonder – how much power do search engines actually wield to control how we think about certain organisations and products? And, are there any other ways that communications professionals can hope to compete with companies that simply have deeper pockets?
Are search engines controlling how we think?
There is evidence from as far back as 2015 indicating that search engines have the power to subtly control thinking and behaviour – this is known as the search engine manipulation effect. Internet search rankings have a significant impact on choices, not only on the products we buy but also the decisions we make. This is because users tend to trust products and organisations that are ranked higher on Google than those that they need to scroll further down on the results page to view. Therefore, companies that have larger budgets to dedicate towards boosting their ranking naturally come out on top in the race for website traffic, and therefore the attention of consumers.
The state of SEO for comms professionals
SEO has become the bread and butter for comms professionals as they seek to boost the reputation of their brand, creating a larger target audience by positioning their company’s website at the top of search engine rankings through a variety of methods. In recent years, it has become one of the most important tools for brand awareness, as it ensures that the right people are being driven towards the products and services that are being offered.
In light of the Google antitrust lawsuit, communications professionals might begin to wonder if this will impact them in the coming years. The good news is, many of the techniques involved in SEO actually contribute to building a strong reputation over time – and this will hold true no matter what the future holds for search engines like Google or Bing.
SEO actually has a critical role to play in reputation management. In order to boost rankings, organisations need to ensure the content on their website is optimised so that it reflects key themes that their target audience is looking for – incorporating SEO keywords into the content of the website itself. This could be in written blogs, headers, internal links and URLS. This is common practice for SEO professionals – tailoring your content more closely to what your target audience is searching for can help ensure that those who come across your organisation’s website trust that they will find what they are looking for, and quickly.
The practice of fine-tuning your website’s on-page SEO will not only improve search engine rankings, it also builds confidence in your brand at little cost – and this is only skimming the surface.
Even though it is clear that search engines like Google do hold a vast amount of power in controlling how we perceive certain brands, this does not necessarily mean organisations with the deepest pockets always come out on top. The process of tailoring your website, social media channels and digital footprint to what your audience is searching for will over time have a critical role to play in building and boosting the reputation of your organisation for the long haul.
Interested in hearing more on this topic? Take a look at Firefly’s PR meets SEO: Digital Reputation Management Guide.
In a time when brands are facing reputational challenges over greenwashing accusations, Patagonia has remained authentic to its environmental responsibilities through a simple, but definitive statement – that it is not a sustainable brand.
Last year, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard announced the radical move to give the company away to a trust, with all future profits going towards climate crisis initiatives. While consumers are rightfully sceptical when it comes to trusting brands’ environmental claims, Patagonia demonstrates how brands can be active participants in the battle against climate change.
Sustainability from the start
Sustainability has been at the forefront of Patagonia since the beginning. Even when the company only existed as an equipment catalogue, it encouraged customers to ditch its pitons, after noticing rock-faces were being damaged with its use. Since 1985, it has been donating 1% of its annual sales to fight climate change and went one step further by establishing ‘1% for the Planet’, encouraging other companies to adopt similar policies.
For Patagonia, it’s been essential that its messaging strategy should not just promote the brand’s products, but also actively encourage environmentally positive actions. This philosophy is evident across campaigns such as ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’. However, there is a contradictory nature in wanting to be sustainable, but also having revenue growth as a business imperative. Authenticity is felt when a brand, like Patagonia, tells its customers that its product shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment. It communicates a message that the company is willing to sacrifice profits for a greater purpose, and reassures its consumers that product is built with quality in mind.
In March, Patagonia launched a campaign establishing the principal messaging defining its future aims with “What’s next?”. Companies that rest on their laurels, despite how successful they have been previously, eventually face backlash for lack of action. Effectively communicating that the business has clear future environmental plans assures consumers that your company is in it for the long haul.
The Patagonia paradox
“Never being done” is the ethos that guides Patagonia. It’s the idea that to truly have a positive effect, you not only need to continuously invest resources, but need to reflect on your company’s negative impact on the planet. [SJ1] No business-for-profit is perfectly sustainable, but Patagonia understands that this does not negate the fact that the private-sector can have a positive environmental impact.
This all starts with an open and transparent communication strategy. Patagonia understands that accountability is the first step in winning consumer trust. After revealing that 95% of its carbon emissions come from its supply chain, it’s looking for ways to offset this by increasing second-hand materials and restricting product-line output.
Patagonia also set-up a “joint funding mechanism” where smaller brands can partner up. Notably, the company states it only has an inclination this will work, with no guarantee of results. In a time when many marketers are concerned with projects being accused of ‘greenwashing’, Patagonia presents an alternative through transparent communication.
Patagonia’s driving narrative resonates with so many because it remains ethically consistent, and this can be felt across every aspect of the business. If a brand truly wants to be sustainable, it will need to integrate planet-first policies widely into every part of its organisation. This includes being transparent about sustainability issues. Reputational risk that comes with hiding environmental issues far outweighs the backlash of being transparent with where improvements are needed.
Being perfectly sustainable is impossible, but communicating where the company plans to improve and invest, shows your organisation is serious about tackling climate challenges.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted to explain something, but the right words just wouldn’t come out? It can be difficult articulating something technical for many reasons. It also depends on who you’re speaking to and their understanding of the technology and terminology.
It’s our job as communicators in technology to find ways to tell stories, with the right words, with the right people. But it’s always a balance. Sometimes we need to use clever analogies to help explain something more complex, and other times we must be mindful not to oversimplify the content as our audience may have a clear understanding of the basics.
Beginning my journey in tech PR, I was flooded with jargon that I had to decipher. There were words and phrases I had never come across, yet the technology itself was part and parcel of my life. But I just don’t refer to it in this way. Take cloud computing, for instance. Some people are familiar with the technical term, while others aren’t, yet everyone uses cloud computing technology. Cloud computing involves delivering computing services, such as servers, software, and storage over the web. If you use Google Drive, that’s an example of cloud computing, if you share files via Dropbox, that’s another example. It wasn’t a term I used before, but it’s certainly one I use and am familiar with now!
Multi-level messaging is an effective way for organisations to communicate complex technical information. By providing three versions of the same message, those with no technical background, some technical background and a lot of technical background can all gain something from it. This approach ensures that everyone is communicated to taking into account their level of understanding. However, organisations must be careful not to assume someone’s comprehension of technology – some CEOs have great technical understanding, some rely on their great team to break it down for them. It’s common to start at mid-level messaging and gauging understanding then taking it from there after reading the room.
When I began my career in PR, a go to source to level-up my understanding for the companies we work with was their case studies. Reading how a company has implemented and used a certain technology really helped me connect the dots, as well as understand the impact of that specific technology on the wider industry. Customer storytelling or case studies form an integral part of any PR programme, there’s huge power in how it helps in articulating the use and benefits of a specific technology.
The world of tech comms may bring its share of communication challenges, like causing us to become tangled in the jargon. However, once you’re able to crack what I like to call the ‘communication code,’ you’re able to grasp how rich language is. Nowadays, progression is rooted in communication and it’s up to us to ensure that we’re adopting the right approach in delivering strong, relatable and easily digestible content.
It has always been essential for businesses to maintain a solid reputation. However, this has taken on another level of importance in the modern context. Social media, 24-hour news cycles and the ubiquity of information have put reputational issues at the forefront of any organisation’s strategy.
Efforts must be made in terms of public relations, brand management and leadership reputation, but it cannot stop there. To build a truly robust reputation, those who represent your company in day-to-day interactions should fully understand the values you wish to project.
Those who are responsible for sales, by definition, have a huge impact on any business’s success. However, this goes beyond revenue generation. They are also a significant driver of your wider reputational efforts due to their countless interactions with the outside world, including current or prospective customers, partners, sponsors and beyond.
If your firm has a poor sales reputation, this will impact the overall image you portray and may even go against other efforts by your leaders or marketing. As a result, it is critical that your sales teams are kept updated on reputational matters—and are well-versed in your firm’s values and are able to communicate them effectively.
A lingering and often unfair perception of sales teams is that their approach can be too “pushy” and not focused on building trust or those long-term relationships that are so important to creating sustainable success. Highlighting the importance of honesty and transparency in negotiations is something that the majority of businesses will already be doing, so what other efforts can be made?
Fundamentally, all your employees must buy into your company’s ethos and what it is trying to achieve. We have all been in an organisation or dealt with a representative of a company who couldn’t care less about how they or the company are perceived. As much as we may try not to let them, these sorts of interactions can have a strong influence on our opinion of the company, and if many others have the same experience, this can cause significant reputational damage.
Therefore, it is important for your company’s leadership to maintain a two-way dialogue with its people. To a large extent, reputation will be top-down—the heritage, culture and personalities of those who founded or run the company will have a significant impact on how it approaches sales and the reputation it wants to build. However, it is important to not be out of touch and to make sure to listen to the wishes and outlook of the people you have throughout your organisation.
There is a wide societal focus on authenticity, and we have seen many examples of companies being called out, even canceled, for not living up to the high moral standards that consumers and workers have these days. For example, many companies have been accused of greenwashing, being misleading in their advertising or having sales practices deemed out of sync with their values. Clearly, this will have a big impact on the reputation of the firm more broadly, but also on sales teams. A team should be comfortable promoting a product or service, not worried about having to make any moral compromises. This can make them more effective in driving revenue and helping build a more positive reputation.
Revenue is a good measurement of many business outcomes, and reputation is no exception. If your revenue figures are strong, it is likely that a strong reputation has helped make that happen. However, it is a mistake to not look beyond revenue and seek different indications as to how your reputation is doing. The use of customer success teams can be a great way to keep in touch with customers throughout the lifecycle, getting constant and useful feedback to measure how your company is doing and the way it is perceived by your customers. Similarly, engagement programmes between stakeholders and your senior team can also fulfill a critical role and ensure that strong bonds are created and trust is shared.
Other established ways of measuring satisfaction beyond simply revenue include the Net Promoter Score (NPS)—a score that organisations are given that measures how likely a customer is to recommend or promote that company to someone else. This can help give a good indication as to how your brand is viewed—for example, if you have strong revenue figures but a poor NPS, trouble may be down the road.
However, due to NPS’ simplicity, it has its limitations regarding the insight it can give you into customer sentiment and behavior. This is why it is important to review all of the different metrics out there and use the one you think would be most relevant to your business. It may even mean combining a few different ones to try to fully understand your reputation and the lasting impressions that your sales team leaves on customers. As a result, a concerted focus on not only revenue and outcomes but on the process to get there should be factored into all strategic decisions and subsequent training of your workforce.
In business, what you say matters, but what you do is crucial—the reputation you’re building is only legitimate if those in your company back it up with their actions. This is why building a positive reputation and putting wider reputational efforts at the core of your business, prioritising them alongside other key business goals such as revenue or costs, is key to future success.
In the world today, talk travels quickly, and there are countless examples in recent times of business outcomes being inextricably linked to the perception a company has in the public forum. Ensuring that you approach sales with integrity, transparency and honesty is more important today than it ever has been. Creating the right culture within your company can lead to the right reputation being presented outward.
This month, Eurovision exploded back onto our screens in all its campy, zany, extravagant glory. Broadcast from my hometown of Liverpool, millions of people across the globe danced and sang along to some predictably cheesy music – in my eyes, Finland were the clear winners. This celebration of diversity, inclusivity, creativity, and culture was a clear reminder that the human influence is invaluable for businesses – particularly as AI creeps further into our lives.
There’s an overall mix of curiosity around how AI can help companies, fears about it negatively impacting jobs, and pressure to regulate it as it grows more knowledgeable. It can perfectly replicate human voices, churn out content in seconds, and explain advanced astrophysics to a five-year-old. It can’t, however, replicate or replace the human touch, particularly when it comes to reputation shaping.
AI isn’t going anywhere. There are around 5,855 tools that have the potential to be used in PR currently available online, and that number will only continue to rise. But a reputation is curated through the business’ relationship with the public, and relationships are the foundation of the human experience. By working solely off data, AI tools lack the emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, and interpersonal skills that are so imperative in PR. If a business experiences a reputational setback, wants to improve media relations, or is looking for a creative new way to boost visibility, there is a need for soft skills that only us humans can bring to the table.
Eurovision is a perfect example of how the human influence shapes reputation. The longest-running annual international televised music competition, its reputation reflects its core value of uniting people and nations by showcasing musical diversity and cultural nuances. It is powered by human creativity and an understanding of culture, attracting audiences of over 180 million people across the world who share a wonderfully wacky and meaningful experience. Love it or loathe it, Eurovision’s reputation has an undeniably and overwhelmingly positive impact on visibility, cultural influence, and tourism.
When considering how AI can discern a brand’s reputation, the tools may be able to use their vast amounts of knowledge to gauge popularity, identify cultural differences, and calculate the positive financial impact Eurovision brings, but this information is gathered and collated through human input. Because AI lacks the aforementioned soft skills, its inability to think critically or creatively generates concerns surrounding ethics.
Firstly, if the human input is not neutral then the AI-based decisions are susceptible to bias or inaccuracies. This is especially concerning if a company is experiencing a reputational crisis, and neutrality and nuance are needed. One well-known example of this is the bubbling undercurrent of political tensions that surround Eurovision each year. Despite these, the event remains fiercely politically neutral, and makes every effort to bar highly politicised performances and promote peaceful relations, in order to avoid reputational damage.
Secondly, AI is inherently inauthentic, meaning that any creative ideas it suggests stem from human creativity. This also means that AI-generated content or ideas are more likely to result in plagiarism accusations, a serious reputational setback.
Thirdly, there are the ever-present fears around increased surveillance. Once an AI tool is fed a piece of information, it can never be retrieved and wiped from the database. If sensitive information is inputted, the tool has no understanding that it should not be outputted – and if that occurs, it makes for navigating some seriously tricky waters.
So, is AI the future of PR? It can certainly augment, but there’s no doubt that the human influence will continue to drive the industry forward. And with the countdown on until the next Eurovision in Sweden, ask yourself – would this be nearly as much fun with a glittery, AI powered, humanoid robot on the stage? Personally, I’d prefer to see another rendition of the classic Ukrainian entry circa 2007, “Dancing Lasha tumbai”. The contestants may be dressed like robots, but they are hilariously and undeniably human.
Quiet thriving (the opposite of quiet quitting) is the newest HR buzzword doing the rounds. Quiet thriving essentially means making small changes, shifting your mental state and helping give you a positive outlook. And we could all do with that positivity right now after the disruption of the great resignation teamed with economic uncertainty.
For those in comms, what does this trend mean? How much positivity is there within your organisation and are you using that to fuel growth?
A company’s reputation is shaped by perceptions of others – that includes your workforce, and their voices can have huge power in enabling success. When employees become advocates, they act as a reliable source of truth. But like everything, if it’s not authentic, you’ll get found out and it will backfire. So, how do you know when the time is right to tap into the advocacy potential of your workforce, particularly if you have had a lot of turmoil following the great resignation?
Step 1: Where do you stand on employee sentiment?
Before creating any kind of communications strategy, you must understand the current sentiment of your workforce. The best way to do this is to carry out an audit and analyse your current company culture. During the great resignation period, many organisations have had their true culture revealed for all to see. For some it’s been great and for others it’s surfaced underlying issues. Regardless of where you are, you must understand what situation you face and how you want to shape your culture here on in.
In particular, evaluate your values. Does your workforce embody the ones you have? Is there a value set not covered that resonates more strongly? Do the values align with behaviour – i.e. more than just words on a page? It’s important to understand these as they become guiding principles to where there needs to be a change and shift in behaviour.
Once confident that your people are on side, are true advocates and believe in the goals of the company, you can work with them to amplify that passion for the good of all.
Step 2: Crafting an employee advocacy programme
All employees will have influence – when it comes to where to place your efforts, it really depends on your communication goal. If a goal is to attract young talent, fresh from universities, then spotlighting your new recruits and using their university networks is the right path. But if your goal is to reach more prospects, then a communication programme which profiles your executives and experts is the best way to go. And there’s no reason for a multi-pronged communication programme if you’re looking for communication to serve several goals – what’s important is to not have a one-size-fits-all approach.
Also, there are often synergies between your communication goals and HR goals. For example, HR may want to showcase a successful LGBTQ+ employee community programme, which could lead to more unusual perspectives and storytelling. For example, a new product may be about to launch, and instead of having the CEO talk to a journalist about it, how about having a member of the team who helped develop the product, and was greatly supported by the company’s LGBTQ+ community? Often, this version of the story is more refreshing!
If you’re looking to scale your employee advocacy programme, start small and build up. In the era of authenticity, the quality of the communication is more important than the quantity.
Step 3: How do you measure up?
Starting small helps you establish meaningful metrics, particularly if this is a new approach for the company. Getting a baseline in place, means you can benchmark yourself from there, then build and pivot as your communication programme grows. Part of measurement must drive back to employee sentiment, because if there’s a shift, it may mean putting the brakes on your employee advocacy programme to fix things internally.
So, as we head into Spring, with sunnier days, are you using your people’s positive sentiment to help shape your organisation’s reputation?
Generative AI, and more specifically ChatGPT, has dominated headlines since late last year. For months, the world and his wife has weighed in with views, concerns and predictions around the technology. But what about the tech companies whose bread and butter isn’t generative AI?
It can be tough when your point of view doesn’t slot into the current news cycle. Periods of less coverage and less contact with the press can feel like a step back. But, instead of feeling frustrated or panicked, this period of time should be seen as one filled with opportunity.
Here’s a couple things non-generative-AI tech companies, and their PR partners should consider at times like this…
You don’t need to join every conversation
This is something that most companies and PRs already innately know. If something isn’t relevant to your offering or market share, don’t weigh in. But when something like ChatGPT comes along and sweeps every journalist, publication and broadcast house off their feet for months on end, confidence in remaining quiet can wane. A ‘let the storm pass’ mentally can quickly shift to a ‘what can we say about this?’ panic.
But it’s important to remember that not every conversation is relevant to your company or brand. A company needs to focus on its own product, service and value offering, and not get distracted by hype that isn’t relevant to where they are positioned in the market.
Don’t rush a POV
Joining conversations is a key part of PR. But it needs to be done effectively, with thought and strategy to back statements. The last thing a company needs is to rush messaging without properly interrogating how they match up with what they do and who they are – their offering, ethos and purpose.
Clumsy messaging runs the risk of getting sniffed out. If you’re lucky, coverage will be small and under the radar – or even non-existent. If you’re unlucky, the pickup could be huge only to bring with it questions and scrutiny. Backpedalling from statements is a headache which can be so easily avoided.
Quiet time can be valuable, use it
So, rushing to have your voice heard isn’t always the right approach at times like this. Equally, doing nothing with the time is a missed opportunity. Instead, use this period of quiet from press relations as a chance to turn your attention elsewhere. This could be towards improving internal comms, boosting employee relationships and thereby your own reputation as a business. It could be through building up the website, through new content like blogs or a bit of a makeover. It could be a chance to strengthen customer relationships, leading to case studies that could in turn find their way onto the site or even as hooks for press interviews later down the line. It could be revamping social media presence, company messaging, media training for spokespeople and so much more. Rather use this time to focus on your wider PR and reputation strategy.
In short, don’t be afraid to sit some conversations out. Just use your time on the bench wisely, leaning on your PR partners for guidance and support.
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