Several Linhart Public Relations team members had the opportunity to attend the 2015 PRSA Colorado Professional Development Summit on Sept. 24. We heard from local PR pros who shared insights on topics ranging from social media to communication skills and crisis planning to ethics.
Here are my three take-aways from the event:
1. Let your brand heroes build your brand’s community: Every brand wants to create its own community or following, but how do you stand out in a sea of information and emerging companies? According to Geno Church, the event’s keynote speaker and word of mouth inspiration officer at Brains on Fire, it’s most effective to find the heroes of your brand and let them be the storytellers. It begins with identifying these heroes, or the people who love your brand the most, and giving them the online and offline tools to share their passion with others. Then, you can step out of the way and watch them ignite a community. The firm’s recent campaign, VisitGreenvilleSC, is a perfect example of this approach. There are 36 other cities named Greenville throughout the U.S. Church and his team realized that they not only needed to create an identity for their hometown, but that they had the opportunity to create a stronger sense of community within their city. Residents were encouraged to celebrate and love their town through their own experiences using #yeahTHATgreenville. The results of the campaign were overwhelming with thousands of shares and conversations and a well-deserved spike in tourism.
2. Take a stand for ethics: How do you respond when you are asked to do or say something that does not align with your values? Alternatively, what if you are told to keep quiet about an issue occurring in your workplace? Paula Pedene, APR, was a public affairs officer with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Arizona for 23 years and a veteran herself, when she became one of the first VA whistleblowers. She exposed the corruption of administrative officials, resulting in a demotion and five-year battle against her supervisors. According to Pedene, it’s important to maintain professional honesty and integrity in the face of any ethical dilemma. At Linhart PR, we follow the PRSA Code of Ethics, which is foundational to how we act with our clients and colleagues.
3. Take responsibility in the face of crises: Smart brands don’t let a crisis define them. Instead, they are defined by how they handle the crisis. To wrap up the day, we discussed the “hits and misses” of the year in crisis communications and came up with three defining factors for successfully managing crises.
a. Don’t deny: The sooner you come clean, the quicker you can move forward.
b. Take responsibility: If you messed up, apologize. Salvage the relationship with your customers, and let them know what you’re doing to make the situation right.
c. Address the issue: After a crisis hits, everything moves fast and the attention is on you. Gather the facts and come up with a plan to address your customers, employees, stakeholders and the media. This step is critical in protecting your company’s reputation, brand and your consumer’s trust.