A brand’s reputation, though intangible, is one of its most important assets. Brand reputation is closely linked with business success because at the simplest level, customers buy from companies they like. It is therefore important that this reputation be managed well. As many entrepreneurs and CEOs have already discovered, public relations is a powerful tool for reputation management.
PR is often used for reputation management. Reputation management is a corporate tactic which involves shaping the public’s perception of a brand by influencing information about the said brand. It involves promoting content that positively highlights the desired image and includes efforts to mitigate negative reviews. Reputation management can be divided into three main components.
PR plan designed to repair damage should include;
After repair is complete it is time to rebuild. This phase of reputation management should be characterized by intense strategizing. Through consultations with the brand’s teams, PR experts should explore and conceptualize the policy level changes that may be required in order to further propel the brand’s character out of the negative zone into a more positive one.
The recuperating process may take months or years depending on the magnitude of the hurdle being negotiated. As the final step in the brand reputation management process, it is also the one that is most lasting. Once rebuilding has been successfully accomplished the brand reputation must be maintained. Some elements of the recuperating phase include:
Establish and Maintain a Positive Public Image
But reputation management extends beyond corrective measures on the heels of undesirable incidents. Brands should prioritize reputation management before a crisis occurs. In fact there should be a cyclical or continuous approach to reputation management characterized by data collection, evaluation and strategy development. Brands that have powerful positive images from the outset are in a better position to recover from negative incidents than those without.
Get Ahead of Negative News
A powerful reputation management tool is pre-emptive action. Quick action can help to reduce the impact that a negative event might have on a brand’s character. It is always recommended that brands act as speedily as they can to address publicity nightmares. In fact if the brand can get in front of the issue and disclose the blunder themselves reputation management becomes much easier. Getting ahead of negative news gives the brand the advantage of being able to control the narrative. It also helps to give the impression that the brand is honest with its target audience and a mature corporate citizen.
Brands can either buckle under the pressure or rise renewed from publicity blunders. Professional reputation management can be the difference between the two.
As PR experts around the world continue to explore new and innovative ways to establish and maintain positive relationships between brands and their target audiences what should they really prioritize? Is it the branded merchandise, the logo and other visual representations of the brand? Or is it the language used to communicate with the world? At first glance many may opt for one of the first two elements leaving language behind. After all, how important can language be? Once the recipients understand what is being said all is well right? Wrong! Language is more powerful than many realize and in a field like PR it is a necessity.
Language is the Foundation of PR
PR is heavily reliant on language. Press releases and digital content for social media, two of the most powerful arsenals in any PR toolkit have language as their foundation. Press releases have to be written before they can be posted or presented and digital content has to follow a script (in the case of video content) or be written (in the case of blogs, social media posts etc.)Undoubtedly therefore, language has to be an important consideration or any PR plan.
When Language is placed on the Backburner PR Suffers
The last thing any PR professional needs is a language barrier or a sub-par approach to bridging the language barrier triggering miscommunication. This is especially crucial for businesses that operate in multiple cultural contexts. When information is converted, attention to detail is crucial. If the process is flawed then serious problems can arise. Several brands including the top names like Coca Cola and GM have experienced this blunder first-hand and their experiences serve as warning to others. One example occurred in 2009 when HSBC bank’s slogan was incorrectly translated from ‘Assume Nothing’ to ‘Do Nothing’ in several of their international markets. You can just imagine how costly it was to repair this damage. In another translation blunder KFC’s slogan ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ became the cringe worthy ‘Eat Your Fingers Off’ for Chinese market.
The conversion of content into different languages is extremely popular. The service is in such high demand that it has led to the establishment of several successful businesses. The fact that transcreation, translation and localization have become such a crucial aspect of corporate content creation and communication strategies is an indicator of just how important language is in business communication.
Businesses do not simply use language, they manipulate it to achieve their goals. Content can be designed to be persuasive, informative, soothing, comforting or humorous depending on what the brand wishes to achieve. The average PR professional will be able to create content that delivers the brand’s message, but the superior PR expert will shape that content into a tool that goes beyond delivering a message. Expert PR professionals can use language to evoke emotions in the audience and trigger action. This action could be subscribing to a page, mailing list or channel or making a purchase.
While English remains the world’s dominant lingua franca and the language of power especially in the corporate world, today’s PR expert needs to be able to tap into the other languages that the brand’s partners and customers use. Language is perhaps the most powerful tool for the modern PR expert.
PR is primarily communication. This communication is used to build, protect and improve relationships ultimately leading to improved sales figures in the long run. The PR professional must therefore get it right at the language level first, in order to reap success. In short, language is a key element in public relations.
Most businesses today either aim to operate on an international scale or are already doing so. Going international has become almost effortless now thanks to the many digital tools at our fingertips. This means that businesses reach customers from varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds. But does this have a significant impact on PR strategy? The short answer is definitely.
Cultural Awareness Matters
Some brands have learnt the hard way that cultural awareness matters. There are numerous examples of cultural blunders in PR that have left entrepreneurs, CEOs and PR professionals with egg on their faces and scrambling to get crisis control teams on the job. These blunders range from failing to acknowledge and recognize cultural norms to language issues and also serve as reminders to others that culture is important in public relations, marketing and branding.
A brand that reflects a culturally aware persona sends a powerful message to their existing and prospective international partners and customers. That message is essentially ‘we understand, appreciate and value you’. And when a message such as this resonates with the recipients, business is poised to thrive.
Inclusion is Important for the Modern Business. When your target market sees that a brand values them, they will gravitate to that brand rather than the competitors especially when the competition’s cultural awareness is weak or nonexistent. Culturally inclusive PR is therefore key to international expansion and successful global operations.
In strategizing sessions PR teams need to consider the culture pools from which their prospective customers come. This research should include norms and language use as well as religious practices. Doing this helps to ensure that the company and its affiliates don’t offend the target market inadvertently. Of course this means that the market research used by the company or brand needs to reflect the culture of the target market.
PR content should be adapted to suit the target market. In the world of corporate content creation and management this is called localization. It goes beyond translation (and of course it is important for PR content to be translated to the languages of the target markets) and focuses on making the message appealing to the target audience. This means switching out measurement systems and ensuring that culturally appropriate phrases and vocabulary is infused into the material. Naturally therefore localization typically follows translation and requires the input of experts in the target language.
Transcreation is another element that must feature prominently in the culturally inclusive PR strategy. Transcreation experts recreate content in the language of the target audience and ensuring that it is culturally appropriate. This results in a complete overhaul of the content but retention of the salient message. Both transcreation and localization require the input of linguistic experts. Some activities that take place during the transcreation process include; replacing voiceover artists with those that demonstrate the local accent and replacing images with more culturally appropriate ones.
A PR team that is equipped with the requisite resources and expertise will be adept at producing culturally appropriate content. This means a brand that seeks to improve its relationship with diverse cultures will need to ensure that its PR team whether internal or external is equipped to handle the task. And since cultures evolve continuous research is also paramount. This means that a department or team member must be tasked with keeping up with the evolution of cultures around the world.
It is undeniable, culture issues must inform the PR strategies used by companies operating in the current global economic climate. PR teams and companies that plan to stay ahead of the game must adapt and evolve.