Consumers trust third party reviews and unbiased news features more than they trust company-paid advertisements, meaning that earned media is often deemed more credible than paid.
In other words, a PR professional’s job is more important than ever as it builds credibility and earns loyalty more than tactics like TV or digital advertising, for example.
And as the lines between PR and marketing become ever more blurred, and in many cases, completely merged, it’s important to uphold the ultimate maker or breaker of consumer trust: authenticity.
With an always-connected consumer, any hard-earned loyalty and support is susceptible to even the smallest PR slip or social media mishap. So, brands have no choice but to portray themselves as honestly and conspicuously as possible to ensure credibility, no matter what reputation-threatening crisis might come their way. Consider how you’d answer the following questions when thinking about your brand communications:
1. Is our brand humanized (enough)?
At the end of the day, we’re all just people. And what do people respond to? Empathy and emotion. They want to feel connected to something, and that something could be your brand. So why not take off the mask of corporate falsities and get real. The last thing consumers want is to feel like you’re trying to dupe them when you’re responding to criticism. Be humble, listen to their feedback, and appropriately respond, even if it means having to apologize or admitting you were wrong.
2. Do we stay true to our brand values?
Your brand is built on a foundation of core values that form your brand identity and set you apart in the marketplace. Don’t lose sight of these when trying to build awareness, attempting the latest and greatest PR/marketing tactic, or working to squelch a crisis. While your intentions are good, your efforts could backfire if consumers sense that you have strayed from what drew them to you in the first place.
3. What is our brand voice--and do we maintain it?
Finally, the key to conveying these core values is consistency. Don’t lose sight of who you are, especially in the midst of a crisis, when communicating across all of the channels where you have a presence (or where consumers could be talking about you!) An inconsistent brand experience results in customer alienation and can weaken your credibility.
Establishing and conveying your brand’s authenticity at all times, across all channels, no matter the circumstances, will go a long way when building and maintaining relationships with your audience. So, make room for authenticity. Your consumers will thank you for it.