Sep 12, 2018 / in Comms Best Practices / by Cision Contributor

The “masses” are a fascinating bunch. We live in a time when humans are exposed to an overwhelming barrage of brand messaging and trending news on a daily basis. One of the major side effects of this phenomenon is that people are subconsciously wising up to the fine line between meaningful brand content and BS. In fact, between 2016 and 2017, Edelman’s Trust Barometer reported an extremely large drop of consumer trust in media, businesses and government. The number went from 45 percent in 2016 down to 33 percent in 2017.

The internet has given the masses the ability to become researchers, judges, and juries in a very public online arena. In terms of PR, getting people to take your content seriously requires an incredibly layered approach. It has become so much more than just getting your name noticed and showcasing the brand in the best light. To gain support, brands need to make it clear that they are “doers” and not “talkers.”

So what are some tactics for accomplishing this?

Let’s talk about three ways you can use your PR content to generate positive perception.

1. Back up Your Messaging With Genuine Reviews

Reviews are one of the most powerful forms of leverage in the online world. This is because these tidbits come from authentic third parties leaving honest opinions about their experience with a brand.

The concept started in the late 1990s and has had a pretty interesting evolution throughout the last couple of decades. Perhaps the most prominent bumps along the road have dealt with businesses trying to sidestep the authenticity factor by writing their own reviews or paying others for them. Thankfully, the people have caught on to this dishonest practice. Some online review platforms will even penalize companies that try to do this.

A recent survey conducted by ReviewTrackers found that 70 percent of people will filter their business searches around online ratings. That being said, it doesn’t matter what business you are in, having enough poor reviews (or not having reviews altogether) will eventually lead a brand into obscurity. In many ways, this has put a lot of pressure on companies to provide stellar experiences, which is a win for everyone.

In regards to your PR efforts, there are several ways you can leverage genuine reviews to support your messaging. Look through your review sentiment and see if there are any brand experiences that can be used for story ideas. For example, let’s say you are crafting PR content to talk about the monumental improvements you’ve made in your customer service department. You can search through your reviews for positive feedback about customer support and incorporate a quote into your content.

You can also create new PR content simply by responding to reviews (both positive and negative) on the major platforms and on social media. If it’s clear that you are respectful, articulate and committed to making sure each customer has a great brand experience, the content will speak for itself.

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Moreover, this is a golden opportunity to showcase your brand voice and values.

2. Leverage Your Personal Brand

Personal branding has become one of the biggest buzzwords used today in the business world. While there are many, many reasons to develop a personal brand, one of the biggest is to show the world that there is a human face and voice behind an organization — one that people can relate to.

Look at Elon Musk. He is perhaps the best example of personal branding in the world today. Throughout all the messaging produced on account of his companies (Tesla, SpaceX, etc.) one of the key factors that validate the messaging is Musk’s track record and status as a visionary committed to making the world a smarter, more efficient place.

The concept of personal branding has been around for a long time (think Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Michael Jordan, and so on). The goal is to establish human traits that subconsciously translate into brand messaging. Many people buy into Microsoft’s messaging because they believe in Bill Gates.

Now, getting to the status of the industry leaders listed above is no simple task. On the ground level, start by making your own posts on social media that give you plenty of face time. You can also contribute on high-traffic blogs to develop your status as a thought leader. Give your viewers some expert tips and advice. Make bold claims about your industry. Offer some big predictions backed by research. Bring something new to the table!

To reiterate, consumer trust in brand messaging is dwindling. People generally trust other people over businesses. To support your PR messaging, you need to build a personal brand that people can relate to. Get your name, face and voice out there as much as possible. If you can earn a reputation as a credible source of expertise, this will inevitably spill over into anything you put your name on.

3. Incorporate The Proper Data

Over the past couple of decades, the sophistication of big data has taken on a monumental role in PR strategies. The constant goal is to gain a numbers-backed idea of who your target audience is, what their key traits are, what their interests are and how you can position your messaging to evoke a strong reaction. However, as many will attest, it’s surprisingly easy to get carried away and overwhelmed by all the “relevant” datasets out there.

It’s no secret that the sheer volume of available data is growing at an exponential rate. Some claim that there are roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of big data generated every day. The hard part of using big data is being able to sift through all the information and find what really matters. The last thing you want is to have tons of information, yet no real insight.

So what can you do to incorporate the proper data into your PR efforts?

Start small.

Hopefully, by now, you have a good idea of the demographics you are targeting with your messages. From here, keep an eye on the industry-relevant trends taking place across the web and on social media. Cision’s monitoring platform enables PR teams to keep close tabs on their brand name, competitors, influencers, and certain keywords across the industry.

Cision Analytics

These insights can give you a good idea of how the masses generally feel in regards to the topic or standpoint you are taking with your PR messages. From here, you can gear your content to play to common interests, as well as reach people on the channels where they are most active.

For example, let’s say you are looking to start an online clothing store and the datasets you have from media monitoring show that your target demographics feel strongly about environmental awareness. With this information, you can promote a PR message that shows your dedication to sustainability throughout your business operations. Patagonia has been doing this VERY successfully for years!

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Ultimately, if you want your PR messaging to be taken seriously, you need to know how to play to people’s interests. Now, these interests are not always black and white  which is why understanding the ins and outs of big data is crucial in PR.

Over to You

PR is more vital in shaping public perceptions now than ever before. The approach isn’t just about showing the world how great you are or what makes you superior. It’s about demonstrating to the masses how you make a positive difference and why you should be taken seriously.

In all honesty, there is no magic PR formula that works for every message. Moreover, the prevalent trends, interests, channels and datasets are changing by the minute. Each PR message is going to require a particular approach in order to resonate in the highest capacity.

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About Taral Patel

Taral Patel is a digital marketer at E2M Solutions Inc with a focus on creating high-quality content and strong content marketing strategy that helps businesses to improve their overall online presence.

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This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.