Tag Archive for: brand trust

What is reputation management? Reputation management is the art of influencing trust and reputation among stakeholders, such as customers, clients, investors, potential employees, or anyone else affecting a company’s success. Reputation management takes a holistic view of the company’s reputation, from the news on a brand’s Google search to third-party reviews or media coverage, a positive company reputation is its most valuable asset.

Why is a Positive Reputation Important?

Without a positive reputation, all other initiatives, from advertising to an IPO, will be less effective. This is even more true for emerging industries and ambitions brands than for publicly traded companies like Apple and Coca-Cola, which are always on the top brand list.  Why? Because those companies have a long history of trust and positive reputation, it takes more to take them down. But growing companies, who aren’t household names without decades of trust build up need to fight harder to gain and keep a positive reputation. 

 

What is PR’s Role in Reputation Management?

Some might say PR is reputation management, but that’s not quite true. There are a few different departments that could be involved in reputation management. The branding team has a role to play in reputation and trust because branding is more than logos and packaging. A great, well-tended-to brand evokes feelings and allows the target audience to know exactly where you fit in their lives. Product development is another vertical that touches on reputation management. If you launch a product that is deeply flawed or offensive, that will impact your company’s reputation. So, what does PR do for reputation management? This could include:

  • Media Coverage & Media Relations
    Proactive media coverage, whether it be thought leadership for executives or consumer product PR, helps stakeholders gain confidence in the company. After all, fewer than 1% of companies ever receive PR coverage, so if your company is in the media, that’s a significant differentiator. One thing that universally stands out as the responsibility of PR is media relations. PR professionals understand how to talk to the media, whether that means proactive pitching or responding to media inquiries.
  • Content Strategy
    The content strategy could intersect with SEO campaigns, including paid placements or buzzy videos used in presentations, internally and externally.
  • Purpose-Driven Initiatives
    Purpose-driven campaigns and initiatives, from the inside out, can be a collaborative effort between branding and public relations. Both teams are vested in ensuring that any CSG program matches the company’s reputation and that stakeholders, from employees to investors to customers, receive the campaign positively.
  • Crisis Communication
    PR will almost certainly take the lead on creating a crisis communication plan, which every company should have and managing a crisis, should it reach the level of stakeholder awareness. Having a PR team who knows the key media players, and understands how to communicate with them can be the difference between a brand-impacting crisis and a hiccup.
  • Social Media
    From influencers to social media posts, PR often directs social media campaigns to coincide with PR campaigns. But social media may also involve advertising, which traditionally isn’t the purview of PR.

How Important is Company Reputation?

How Reputation Impacts Product Pricing

The more competitive your space, the more important your reputation. If your product is essentially the same as its competitors -iPhone vs. Google phone, for example, or Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi – then PR and reputation management are often differentiators for brands. If you want your company to be the premier one within your vertical, your reputation must match your goals.

Pre-IPO Reputation Management

Whether you’re gearing up for an IPO, or already publicly traded, the value of a company. In fact, according to executives, up to 63% of a company’s value is its reputation.  The fact is, current and future investors have a vested interest in your company’s reputation.

 

How Your Reputation Impacts a Crisis

The more your stakeholders trust you, the more likely they are not to overreact to a crisis like a product recall or a careless executive statement. Emerging from a crisis without significant damage has multiple inputs, but there’s no doubt that a positive reputation makes it easier. I call this the trust bucket. When your trust bucket is overflowing, and a crisis takes it down an inch from the top, that’s a whole different scenario than if your trust bucket only had an inch of trust to start. There’s really no substitute for brand trust.

 

Attracting Outstanding Team Members

There’s nothing more frustrating than hiring for a role and receiving dozens of resumes from less-than-attractive candidates. If your company has a good reputation, it will always have access to both active and passive candidates, rather than wasting hours of human resources time. Not only do the best people want to work at the company with the best reputation, they are also most likely to help spread the news without you asking. Let’s face it – employees who care about your company’s reputation are its most valuable employees.

In today’s fast-paced world, a crisis can strike at any moment, leaving your business vulnerable to unforeseen challenges. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a PR nightmare, or a cyber-attack, how you respond can make or break your reputation and financial stability. But how can you ensure that your response is swift, effective, and minimizes damage? The answer lies in the hands of a professional crisis management firm. But do you really need one? Read on as we delve into the significance of crisis communication planning and the role of  crisis communication PR experts in safeguarding your organization’s future.

What Exactly is Crisis Management?

Crisis management is an organization’s systematic approach to identifying, assessing, and responding to unexpected events or emergencies that threaten to disrupt operations, harm reputation, or negatively impact the bottom line. This strategic process involves preparing for potential crises, mitigating risks, and recovering from their impacts. Effective crisis management addresses the immediate challenges and focuses on long-term recovery and prevention of future crises.

A prime example of crisis management in action can be seen in how some companies responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, many businesses in the hospitality industry, like hotels and restaurants, faced unprecedented challenges due to lockdowns and travel restrictions. In response, they swiftly implemented health and safety protocols, pivoted to digital platforms for service delivery, and communicated transparently with customers about their efforts to ensure safety. This helped mitigate immediate financial losses and build long-term customer trust.

Understanding the Role of a Crisis Management Firm

A crisis management firm specializes in preparing and guiding organizations through unexpected and potentially damaging events. These firms are staffed by PR experts who understand the nuances of crisis communication strategies. They work to protect and rehabilitate your company’s image during and after a crisis. Their expertise can aid in navigating the complexities of crisis situations, ensuring that communication is clear, timely, and effectively reaches all stakeholders.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Crisis Management Firm

From industry-specific experience to the agility of their crisis response, every aspect plays a crucial role in safeguarding your reputation and future. Here are key factors to consider when choosing a crisis management firm, each explained with precision to guide you in making an informed decision.

Industry-Specific Experience

When selecting a crisis management firm, ensuring they have experience within your specific industry is essential. This process guarantees that the firm understands your business’s unique challenges and dynamics. They can anticipate potential issues and navigate complex regulations. Their experience can also provide valuable insights into industry-specific stakeholders, media landscapes, and regulatory environments, enabling them to craft strategies that resonate and achieve results.

Track Record of Success

Evaluating a firm’s track record in managing crises is crucial. This history demonstrates their capability to handle emergencies and provides insights into strategic thinking and execution under pressure. A successful track record indicates a firm’s ability to manage crises across various scenarios, reflecting their adaptability, resourcefulness, and resilience. Additionally, it reassures that the firm can protect and even enhance your company’s reputation during and after a crisis.

Team of Seasoned PR Experts

The quality and experience of the crisis management firm’s team cannot be overstated. A team of seasoned PR experts brings a wealth of knowledge and diverse skills to the table. These professionals have honed their skills in crisis communication, strategic planning, and media relations over years of practice. Their expertise ensures that your company receives proper advice and effective crisis management strategies that mitigate risks and PR challenges.

Crisis Preparedness Approach

A firm’s approach to crisis preparedness indicates its proactive rather than reactive capabilities. An ideal crisis management firm responds to crises and prepares your organization to face potential threats effectively. This involves conducting vulnerability assessments, developing crisis response plans, and training your team in crisis communication. A comprehensive preparedness approach equips your company with the tools and confidence to manage unforeseen events.

Bespoke Crisis Communication Strategies

The ability to offer bespoke crisis communication strategies is paramount. Each company’s values, objectives, and stakeholder expectations are unique. A crisis management firm will work closely with you to construct a customized strategy that aligns with your company’s ethos. These strategies should address the concerns of all stakeholders, maintain transparency, and uphold your company’s reputation, demonstrating an understanding of your business and its needs in times of crisis.

Global and Local Media Relations

A firm’s ability to navigate global and local media landscapes is significant. Effective crisis management requires a nuanced understanding of different media outlets and their impact on public perception. A firm with strong media relations can strategically manage your message across various platforms. Their expertise in dealing with the media can prevent miscommunications and ensure that your company’s narrative remains consistent, regardless of the geographic location.

Continuous Monitoring and Adaptation

In the fast-paced world of crisis management, continuous monitoring and adapting strategies in real time are critical. A top-notch crisis management firm will have the tools and processes to monitor public sentiment, media coverage, and the effectiveness of crisis communication strategies. This allows for quick adjustments based on evolving situations, ensuring that efforts always align with the current environment and stakeholder expectations.

The Economic Impact of Unmanaged Crises

The severe consequences of needing a solid crisis management plan can be dire and far-reaching. Unmanaged crises can lead to lost revenue, a tarnished reputation, and even the company’s downfall. On the other hand, organizations that invest in crisis communications firms and robust planning often see less financial impact from crises and recover more quickly and effectively.

The Onboarding Process: Integrating a Crisis Management Firm into Your Operations

Integrating a crisis management firm into your business operations is critical to safeguarding your company’s reputation and ensuring resilience in the face of potential crises. This onboarding process is meticulous and tailored to align with your organization’s specific needs and vulnerabilities. It involves several key steps, each designed to fortify your response strategies.

Step 1: Initial Consultation

The initial consultation is a foundational step where the crisis management firm gains an understanding of your business. This includes analyzing your company’s structure and key operations and identifying potential vulnerabilities. It’s a collaborative process to uncover your organization’s specific needs and challenges. The goal is to establish a clear picture of your business landscape, which is crucial for developing an effective crisis management plan.

Step 2: Risk Assessment

Following the consultation, the firm conducts a detailed risk assessment. This step involves identifying potential crises your business could face, ranging from natural disasters to cybersecurity threats. The firm evaluates the likelihood of each crisis occurring and its potential impact on your operations, reputation, and financial health. This comprehensive analysis is pivotal in prioritizing risks and lays the groundwork for developing targeted strategies to mitigate these risks effectively.

Step 3: Strategy Development

Based on the risk assessment, the firm crafts customized crisis communication strategies. This involves developing a plan that outlines how to communicate effectively with all stakeholders during a crisis. The strategies are designed to be flexible and adaptable, ensuring that your organization can respond swiftly and appropriately to various scenarios. This step is critical in preparing your team to manage and navigate crises, minimizing potential damage to your company’s reputation.

Step 4: Training and Simulations

Your team undergoes rigorous training based on the strategies developed to ensure readiness. This includes practical simulations of crisis scenarios, allowing your team to practice response in a controlled environment. These exercises are designed to test the communication plan’s effectiveness, identify gaps, and enhance team coordination. This hands-on approach is critical for building confidence among team members and ensuring a cohesive response to actual crises.

Step 5: Implementation

The crisis management firm integrates its systems and processes with your organization’s infrastructure, ensuring seamless communication and coordination. This step involves implementing the developed crisis management plan and ensuring that all tools, technologies, and protocols are in place for an immediate response. The focus is creating a streamlined process for information flow and decision-making during a crisis, ensuring that your organization can react effectively.

Step 6: Continuous Evaluation

The crisis management process is dynamic and requires regular updates to stay effective. The firm continuously evaluates the crisis management plan against evolving risks, changes in the business environment, and organizational growth. This process will ensure the plan remains relevant and effective, adapting to new threats and incorporating lessons learned. Regular reviews and updates are key to maintaining a state of readiness, ensuring that your organization can face future crises.

Future-Proofing Your Organization: Beyond the Immediate Crisis

In today’s volatile business landscape, future-proofing your organization goes beyond navigating the present crisis. It’s about building a resilient framework that withstands future uncertainties. Partnering with a crisis management firm and leveraging the expertise of PR experts can significantly enhance your readiness. Read on as we discover key strategies for future-proofing to ensure your organization is prepared and responsive and can maintain stakeholder trust through any challenge.

Establishing a Crisis Management Team

A crisis management team equipped with PR experts is fundamental. The primary role is to develop, implement, and oversee crisis communication strategies, ensuring a coordinated and effective response. Organizations can address issues, mitigate negative impacts, and maintain transparent communication with stakeholders by having a specialized team. Regular training and simulations prepare the team, making them indispensable for future-proofing your organization.

Developing a Comprehensive Crisis Plan

Creating a crisis plan with the assistance of a crisis communications firm lays the groundwork for an effective response. This plan should cover all aspects of crisis management, from initial detection to resolution and post-crisis analysis. It must include clear roles, responsibilities, communication protocols, and escalation procedures. A well-crafted plan ensures that the organization can act and communicate consistently, preserving its reputation and stakeholder trust during turbulent times.

Implementing Proactive Monitoring Tools

Proactive monitoring tools are essential for detecting potential crises before they escalate. Organizations can gather real-time insights and sentiments by leveraging advanced technologies and social media monitoring. This early warning system allows for quick action and preparation of crisis communication strategies, minimizing potential damage. Engaging with a crisis communications firm can provide access to cutting-edge tools and expertise, enhancing your monitoring capabilities.

Training and Simulations

Regular training and simulations for staff, facilitated by PR experts, are crucial for ensuring preparedness. These exercises help familiarize your team with the crisis plan and refine their response skills under pressure. Simulations can reveal weaknesses in the plan and areas for improvement, allowing for adjustments to be made. This hands-on approach builds confidence and competence, ensuring that your organization can manage crises effectively when they arise.

Building Strong Stakeholder Relationships

Strong relationships with stakeholders are your organization’s lifeline during a crisis. Transparent communication strengthens trust and loyalty, which are vital for weathering storms. Organizations can ensure support and understanding in difficult times by developing a communication strategy prioritizing stakeholder needs and concerns. A crisis communications firm can offer valuable insights into effective engagement tactics, further solidifying these relationships.

In a world where crises are inevitable, being prepared is not just an option—it’s an absolute necessity. A professional crisis management firm provides the essential expertise and unwavering support needed to navigate these turbulent times effectively. Their pivotal role in developing and meticulously implementing effective crisis communication strategies is invaluable. By partnering with the right firm, you can protect your organization’s reputation, minimize the economic impact significantly, and emerge stronger and more resilient from crises.

Secure Your Business’s Future with Avaans Media

Don’t wait for a crisis to strike. Take proactive steps to safeguard your business by partnering with Avaans Media. Our top-rated PR agency boasts a 100% executive-level team dedicated to providing exceptional boutique PR services for emerging industries and hyper-growth companies. With our expertise in crisis management, you can be certain that your business is in capable hands. Contact our experts today to future-proof your organization and confidently navigate any crisis.

Can you operate in a place where you don’t have a corporate reputation but still sell products? Absolutely. We see companies like that selling products on Amazon all the time. They’re usually the cheapest and accompanied by less-than-credible reviews. Companies like this might sell luxury fakes at the farmer’s market. If you look at these companies, you will find dubious backgrounds or thin reputations. And yet, many of those companies are not trying to change that. This article is not for those companies. This article is for ambitious brands who want to be the premier brand in their category. If you are an ambitious company – how important is company reputation? Investors care about a corporate reputation. They care a lot – and investors dig deeper and look for signals of success when there is economic uncertainty or capital is constrained. So what do investors look for when they consider a company’s reputation?

 

What Are The Benefits of a Positive Corporate Reputation

 

Brand Loyalty

My Dad worked for IBM for many years – and during that time, there was a saying, “No one ever got fired for hiring IBM.” IBM really set the standard for B2B Tech PR. That is a reputation goal. Having that kind of brand trust is invaluable. According to investors, brand loyalty is the number one benefit of a positive reputation.
Consumers see product or service reviews as the #1 type of content most effectively enhancing a company’s corporate reputation. Consumers know there’s no way to run from a bad product, and they also know that people love to crow about a good product – it makes people feel “in the know.” And customers eat up content that confirms their ideas about a particular product and brand, so there is good reason for media outlets and journalists to create this type of content.

Another reason customers love to see your product in the news is that it reconfirms their choices. It appeals to their ego and triggers their confirmation bias. This is especially when the person or brand confirming their choice is one they admire or respect. This is why influencer relations and media relations are two of the most powerful arsenals in your reputation management toolbox.

Investors also noted that a positive corporate reputation positively impacts crisis management as well. Brand trust is also a powerful tool during a crisis. When you have a PR crisis, the loyalty of your customers and their trust in your response will ultimately decide its impact. If customers aren’t buying it, that’s an indication of trust, and it means you’ll have to earn back their loyalty. Securing and maintaining trust is increasingly difficult in our media-savvy and highly volatile world. And it’s true – it is far easier to lose trust than to gain it. But that’s the reason why reputation management and PR are so important to growing companies. What type of content do you believe is most effective in enhancing a company’s corporate reputation?USC Annenberg Global Communication Report

Employee Moral and Retention.

Coming in at #3 was employee morale and retention. Top tier employees want to feel good about where they work, and they don’t want their own personal reputations sullied by bad actors. Great media coverage, from CEO thought leadership to statements about important issues, sends signals to employees that their employers are engaged with the world around them.

It’s not just that  – positive media coverage also excites ambitious employees for another reason: they think they may have a chance to improve their reputations through media opportunities. That could be anything from appearing in a brand video to being interviewed about a new product.

The more employees feel proud of where they work, the more likely they are to be committed to the company and its mission.

USC Annenberg Global Communications Report 2023 - What type of content do you believe is most effective in enhancing your current company’s corporate reputation for employees?
USC Annenberg Global Communication Report

Product Sales

Why would investors consider product sales last? Because sales are something that can be changed reasonably easily with the right investment. Employee morale and stock performance are harder to change; those two are not nimble. Plus, a good corporate reputation might not have a direct line to the purchasing cycle, but trusted companies do better in sales, can charge more, and have longer lifespans than untrusted companies and brands. So if your goal is increased revenue, trust needs to be one of your most critical strategies.

 

Purpose Driven and ESG – Where Do We Stand Today?

During the pandemic, there were some fascinating corporate shifts in purpose, value-driven messaging and sustainability, and it lead to all-time highs of customer trust in companies. People were looking to companies for the moral guidance that was missing from established sources, the CDC, the FDA. Everyone seemed to be ham-fisted, and the only ones communicating clearly were companies. Besides the fact that this underscores the importance of solid communication, it was also a new era in purpose-driven PR. But today, we’re seeing a bit of public backlash and businesses are wondering whether they should continue to social impact, ESG, and purpose driven initiatives.

Well, it turns out,  everyone from investors to customers are watching companies and want to support companies with a good compass. In the same report – customers and investors downgraded the idea that companies need to take a stand on important social issues. What this tells us, is people want companies to walk-the-walk and do it without crowing about it all the time – but they DO want to find it and it will impact their buying process, especially when there is a competitor.

USC Annenberg Global Communications Report 2023 - Purpose Driven and ESG in the eyes of consumers and investors.

Reputation building is THE most important outcome for PR, because with a positive reputation, all things are possible. The doors of opportunity open faster, and stay open longer. Contact us today for a reputation assessment that provides you with insights that give you the competitive edge you need to reimagine the future of your company.

There are so many ways consumer brands can effectively reach audiences today. Brands have a dizzying array of choices; it’s easy to lose track of the difference between paid content, what is sponsored content vs branded content and how does it work with PR? Even the term “media outlets” is confusing because there are so many. For our purposes today, media outlets refer to traditional publications with online versions rather than social media platforms or blogs. Today’s online and print versions (where they still exist) are radically different. There is usually a lot more content on the web version, and there are no space limitations, meaning sponsored and branded content has been democratized. It used to be that only the most prominent brands could afford to buy space in magazines like Women’s Wear Daily or People Magazine, but today, buying content on those online versions is possible for much smaller consumer brands.

 

Sponsored content vs branded content

What is sponsored content?

Sponsored content is produced in collaboration with the brand; the brand has at least some oversight.

Sometimes sponsored content includes indexed links useful to SEO. This is perhaps one of the most compelling advantages of sponsored content. It creates an inbound link from a reputable online source, and it shows up in Google searches, which enhances reputation.

Like an ad, sponsored content may guarantee a certain number of views or placement over a guaranteed amount of time. Some influencers or publications require complete creative control, especially with product reviews. Depending on the outlet, sponsored content, because it has editorial oversight, very often lasts longer, sometimes indefinitely.  Depending on the publication and the format, it will appear with “sponsored” or “ad” designations per FTC guidelines. Branded content can be an article in a publication or an influencer video.

What is branded content?

Branded content is a hybrid of editorial and paid content produced by the publication; it is native-appearing. The placement and content oversight are paid for, and in this way, it differs from earned media. Like sponsored content, branded content is far less interruption than traditional digital advertising. Sometimes branded content includes indexed and because of the editorial oversight, do-follow links useful to SEO.

How to effectively use sponsored and branded content?

The most successful sponsored content and branded does not read like an advertisement.  Instead, it maximizes the space to create entertainment value or evoke an emotional response with storytelling. Creating content that viewers want to read is why paid content is more effective than banner ads. Very often, paid content isn’t even directly about the brand, and it may be a piece of content that distills critical messages to the audience without directly pushing the company; instead, it moves the consumer’s perception of a product or a lifestyle change.

Over and over, I see paid content that feels like a giant ad, and I know it’s because someone in marketing, or maybe even an overly enthusiastic CEO read the copy and said something like,  “There’s no call to action!” or “We aren’t even talking about our product’s best features!” And so the entire piece reads like the brand website. This is such a sad waste of viewer attention. The intent is to create or reinforce the customer journey. Customers almost never buy on the first interaction with a brand, think about paid content as a first or second meeting.

Is paid content effective for consumer brands?

Branded content drives up to 86% more brand recall than traditional advertising. That’s a considerable uptick. So why does anyone do any other form of traditional advertising? The reason is that branded content works because it doesn’t feel like a strong call to action; rather, it feels informative or entertaining, or even like news.

How are branded content and sponsored content similar?

 

How to choose between brand content vs sponsored content? This might be a matter of budget. Experienced content creators like editors at sought-after publications are not cheap.  Sponsored content is often less expensive, and it isn’t usually as in-depth as branded coverage, nor is it always premium quality. Some outlets do not ever place sponsored content in a front page rotation, where they might for premium branded content.

Paid content is effective because, unlike paid advertising, it doesn’t interrupt the viewer’s experience. Very often, there isn’t even a solid call to action in sponsored content. Because there isn’t a strong call-to-action, many brands run ad campaigns alongside their sponsored content to cement brand recall, improving click rates on traditional advertisements. Like an ad, paid content may not be permanently hosted or appear in search indefinitely.  Paid content, when done well, engages the viewer for a longer period than an ad; as importantly, because the view engages with the content, they will be more likely to remember it.

We love paid content because, unlike a traditional ad, it’s usually stickier and can be leveraged in many of the same ways as earned media.

How does it compare to earned media?

Sponsored content feels more trusted than advertisements but not as trusted as independent coverage or reviews. But, like earned media, it provides a way for brands to reach viewers while they’re in the mindset to consume content or while they’re searching for information related to the brand.

Because it isn’t paid, earned media is more trusted, and therefore, more valuable. Also, earned media is permanent. We see search results for earned content that is several years old but still relevant. So earned media is far stickier.

How does it fit in with PR and content strategy?

From a PR and content strategy perspective, we like to use sponsored or branded content to kick off a campaign; this gives us some control over the message early on and guarantees some visibility and search indexing. We use paid content with many of our thought leadership programs, to help leaders develop their voice, their point of view, and reputation. We also use paid content for product introduction. It is not uncommon to see brands use sponsored content in other forms of promotion and advertising.

In short, we think a lot of paid content makes sense with a digitally savvy PR campaign.

Updated FTC Guidance on Influencer Marketing Disclosure

Updated July 13, 2023

 

The FTC’s job is to preserve consumer trust. When the FTC adds clarity to its regulations, the purpose is usually to make the guidelines more clear, and therefore easier to follow.

This is an important announcement if you use influencer marketing or consumer reviews.

The updated FTC guidance covers:

1) articulating a new principle regarding procuring, suppressing, boosting, organizing, publishing, upvoting, down voting, or editing consumer reviews so as to distort what consumers think of a product; 2) addressing incentivized reviews, reviews by employees and fake negative reviews of a competitor; 3) adding a definition of “clear and conspicuous” and saying that a platform’s built-in disclosure tool might not be an adequate disclosure; 4) changing the definition of “endorsements” to clarify the extent to which it includes fake reviews, virtual influencers, and tags in social media; 5) better explaining the potential liability of advertisers, endorsers, and intermediaries; and 6) highlighting that child-directed advertising is of special concern.

 

 

You can read about the announcement here:

FTC updated guidance on deceptive reviews 

 

May 9, 2017:

Because of continuing conversations with colleagues, brands, and influencers, I wanted to put some guidelines together for based on the FTC’s native advertising guidelines or influencer disclosure.

The FTC has shot some arrows over the bow in the last several years regarding native advertising disclosure, including calling out Warner Bros. and Lord and Taylor.

In both cases, the brand was held liable, not the influencers or content creators, strongly signaling that it’s the brand’s responsibility to ensure disclosure. But, the FTC native advertising guidelines make it clear: ” …the FTC has taken action against other parties who helped create deceptive advertising content – for example, ad agencies and operators of affiliate advertising networks.  Everyone who participates directly or indirectly in creating or presenting native ads should make sure that ads don’t mislead consumers about their commercial nature.”

Basically, no one is off the hook.

As if by magic, the FTC slapped 45 celebrity influencers with warning letters but didn’t forget to include their agents and the brands – in total 90 letters were issued about the FTC native advertising guidelines. It’s safe to say this isn’t going away. It’s always been best practice, but if you didn’t take it seriously before, it’s time to do so now.

My view is this: disclosure and transparency are good for all.

A brand should have no shame about showcasing its products and experiences in a real life scenario. Influencers shouldn’t have shame either, because working with a brand is a badge of honor. It’s a real compliment to a community that a brand values their eyeballs. If you’re ashamed of working with a particular brand or influencer, perhaps you’re working with the wrong partner.

Often times when I have conversations about disclosure with brands and influencers, I get questions like “what if…we do….”

Whether you are a brand or an influencer, if you’re asking questions about how to get around these guidelines, you’re on the wrong track. The guidelines make it very clear: make it obvious to an uneducated viewer that there is a material relationship (basically, anything which might effect the outcome of the endorsement). Influencers are often concerned about “selling out” their community. As an influencer, if you’re making a living from your community with native advertising and you’re not disclosing those relationships, you’re REALLY selling them out.

The Edelman Trust Barometer makes it clear: trust is in crisis. 

Establishing trust and adhering to guidelines is necessary for native advertising and influencer relations to continue. If trust is eroded the FTC guidelines won’t be at fault for the collapse of social native advertising.

So here are the guidelines based on reading hundreds of pages including all of the FTC links provided below.


When do social media influencers need to disclose a relationship with a brand?

Always.

Does this apply to me?

Yes.

Why does it matter?

The FTC says it does.
Consumer trust is important to all of us. 

How do I disclose?

Make it “clear and conspicuous” and leave no doubt.


If you want to read through the FTC’s own words on this:

FTC Native Advertising Guideline Resources

.com Disclosures (2013)

Native Advertising: A Guide For Business

FTC Endorsement Guidelines: What People Are Asking (2015)

The Lord & Taylor Disclosure Case-FTC Blog (2015)

The Warner Bros Disclosure Case-FTC Blog (2015)

Enforcement Policy Statement On Deceptively Formatted Ads (2015)

 

Purpose-driven public relations means the brand proactively builds incorporates values that impact social, cultural, and environmental issues. A true purpose-driven company makes corporate choices within its purpose framework, even when it means purpose over profits.

Truthfully, public relations aren’t purpose-driven, a brand is purpose-driven. Public relations is simply a lever a purpose-driven brand can use to improve the world around them. Building a purpose-driven brand is an inside-out job. They aren’t PR campaigns or PR ideas; they are a cultural way of thinking that’s internalized by everyone in the company.

[3 minute read]

The Importance of Internalizing Purpose

There are lots of ways a brand can support its customers, community, and the globe meaningfully. Cause partnerships, and donation campaigns, are all relevant PR campaigns, but they aren’t purpose-driven. Purpose-driven companies take the long view on purpose and impact.

Internalization distinguishes purpose-driven brands. When everyone from the Board, to the CEO to the janitor walks the talk of purpose, then a brand has authentically implemented a purpose-driven brand. This also means when employees face choices, they incorporate the purpose into their decision-making. This can include employee hiring, employee programs, purchasing, and product decisions. It also means employees feel safe in making a purpose-informed choice because they know they’re acting within the company’s ethos; their choice is supported and even celebrated.

 

Should Purpose-Driven Initiatives Even Have a PR Component?

The deciding factor on this issue is the “why,” behind the initiative. Every day, businesses from Fortune 500 all the way to emerging industries are making decisions that have a social impact, and most of the time, these decisions don’t get the credit they deserve. But it’s not one decision, or one campaign, or one person who makes purpose – it’s people moving in unison making decisions that impact millions.

For example, let’s take eggs. When you go to the grocery, you face a lot of buying choices. Cage-free eggs, organic eggs, local eggs, inexpensive eggs. Many of these egg producers are balancing product, purpose, and price. Even though the organic or cage-free eggs are more expensive, it’s likely the margins on those eggs are considerably less than the mass-produced eggs. It’s also very likely that the producers of the cage-free or organic eggs are making other choices that cost more – maybe they buy the more expensive food, maybe they supplement their electricity with solar power. These are all purpose-driven decisions that are really important, but they won’t make news. What may make the news is the impact or the multiple steps they take for their purpose might make news. The people behind these choices may have interesting stories to tell. There will be PR opportunities, but they require real storytelling. Therefore, it’s important to have experienced purpose-driven PR agencies who can tell ethos and purpose stories.

Brands should have PR at the table when incorporating purpose-driven ethos, but PR should be part of the purpose, not the purpose of the purpose.

 

Are Purpose-Driven Brands Born or Made?

Both and neither. Some brands are founded in purpose, we can all name a few. Other brands grow into purpose. Both are as legitimate as their ability to stick to their ethos. It’s important for both types of purpose-driven brands to be authentic. Just because a brand is founded in purpose doesn’t mean it won’t lose its way. And just because a brand develops purpose doesn’t entirely absolve them from past actions. All brands should be very careful with their initiatives because consumers are getting fantastic at sniffing out disingenuous missions. These disingenuous missions create consumer distrust and may even run afoul of today’s cancel culture. A brand is better off doing nothing than taking on duplicitous or insincere purpose-driven initiatives.

 

If your company is considering a purpose-driven plan, please download our guide and call us. We can help you and your team navigate the exciting opportunities – and avoid the pitfalls – for purpose-driven brands.