preserve the image: brand management and keeping your game face on

This blog serves as a capstone for our series on public relations. We’re bringing it back around to where we started: public relations and your brand. It turns out, branding and public relations go hand in hand. The longer we operate in the branding sphere, the more we realize the integral part PR plays in good brand development. We’re about to explore the different facets of brand management, from a public relations perspective, following the life chronology of a brand. We’ll begin at concept development, the genesis of a brand. We’ll end up with the phase when a brand has sparked, stoked, and fanned itself into a blaze – taking the necessary steps to always check back with the overall goal. Here’s a walk through the lifecycle of your brand.

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The Concept

Effective PR is PR that’s got the pulse on the public. Understanding who your key audiences are and adjusting your brand messaging to their ear sensitivities is essential to A+ branding. It goes beyond marketing, the delving deeper into your Why. You may remember our conversation way back when about your brand foundation, about how your Why is the way you connect people to your purpose. When building a brand, it is essential to take into account what need or void or purpose you are filling and effectively communicate that in a way that the people directly affected by that Thing [need or void or purpose] you’re developing. Make those people real to you and speak directly to them. Your brand only matters if it matters to other people. This is PR in your brand concept development. See, we told you it was important.

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The Launch

Leading up to your Big Branding Debut, you’ll need some (read: a lot) of PR to make sure a) your messaging is On Point and b) your message actually makes it Out There. Now, we talked at length (waxed poetic) about difference between PR and marketing, earned exposure versus paid exposure…and now we revisit that Earned Exposure piece. Certainly your launch should be marketed in a fashion congruent with your budget and your goals, but lest you forget the value of a vetted, published message, here we are to remind you (!). Prior to your launch, make sure you have a strong PR plan for media exposure and a bulletproof message governance strategy – what is your message in the first place, what is the kind of reception we want that message to have, and why does it matter to the public? Answer those three questions in writing, distill them down into the most digestible (read: actionable) size, and make like Nike and Just Do It.

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The Blip

You have a brand and it’s a fantastic brand, simply The Best Brand. But as we all know, even The Best Brand(s) are subject to pitfalls, mistakes, (cue: gasp) human error. Perhaps not all of you have read Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (and that, in and of itself, is a shame all its own). Here to ameliorate the chasm in your pop culture commentary absorption, we got you the two sentence Cliff Note: humans are very prone to error, especially in scenarios when they think they are near impervious to error. Humans are very prone to examine, magnify, and crucify the errors of others, particularly in the fast and loose days of the Internet Bully At Large. Entertain this: you’ve made a ghastly error of human judgement. The Internet Mob has reared its ugly, collective head. You’re going to need a healthy dose of Professional Grade PR to fight that fire, as we discussed in our last blog (in case you missed it! Don’t be that guy.).

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The Runway

You’ve successfully navigated away from The Blip on your radar and record like a (friggin’) champ. Your brand is defined, relevant, and really Out There. Your public approval rating eclipses POTUS, your key audiences are totally bought in (literally and figuratively), and your Things are really working out well for you. You start to think (as humans are prone to do) about taking it to the Next Level. Before you level up, it’s time to revisit your trusty PR toolbox and figure out what your expansion messaging will be and how you will execute and communicate this growth.  This is a time of huge opportunity to not screw things up, and a solid PR plan could definitely give you that leg up as you level up. Organize your media contacts and craft your pitch, coordinate your brand voices (who’s going to be doing all the talking) and hammer home the mission, purpose, and value of your brand and future ventures.

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30,000 Feet

Your PR was The Best PR through your takeoff and now you’re settling into the view at 30,000 feet. You feel like a rockstar – you almost are a rockstar. Other people want to be you. You definitely want to be you, right in this moment. History would tell you not to get comfy, because Blips come up all the time. However, now is absolutely the time to start building your reserve of PR capital, in preparation for or in the glorious absence of a Blip. We referenced BP’s example of a PR nightmare in our last blog, but we also referenced the pre-work they had done prior to transforming the Gulf of Mexico into a blackened bath. They had begun, years before, to grow a forward-facing face, combating the reputation of pollution and planet-killing. Then, when the inevitable Big Blip came along, they found themselves standing on a perception foundation that could weather the storm of their own creation. See and do likewise.

What a month! We’ve covered a lot of ground – telling the story, spreading the news, fighting the fire, and preserving the image (of your brand). Your main takeaways are these:

1

Incorporate solid public relations policy throughout the life of your brand.

2

Make personal, direct contact with the media to push your pitch.

3

Develop a brand governance strategy, actionable for your brand and your resources.

4

Deploy your PR plan with consistency, accuracy, and with an ear to the ground.

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next up 

We’re diving back into your brand. Shocking, we know. This time we’ll cover your audience and their perception, followed by your position within your market and your strategy to maximize your strategic differentiators. Epic, man. This is all gearing up for some GREAT BIG THINGS coming in the new year, because New Year.