Hyperbolic it may be, but Warren Buffet’s assertion that it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it holds some truth. So many brands can relate to this, with plenty damaging their reputations quicker than you can say Pepsi and Kendall Jenner.
That said, there are many instances where businesses have turned negative sentiment on its head — sometimes even improving their reputations altogether on the back of such disasters. The key to this? PR.
Public relations, which refers to how brands manage how others perceive them, is the cornerstone of a rock solid business strategy. Involving various approaches, from content creation to live events, PR can not only safeguard or improve a business’s reputation, but help it raise brand awareness and generate sales leads.
However, PR is a complicated beast, and there are lots of different types that brands can harness. To help you work out what exactly your own business needs, we’ve created a guide to the different types of PR, covering everything from crisis communications to community relations.
Arguably the most well-known type of PR, crisis communications involves mitigating the effects of any public crises. This is typically done by either solving or acknowledging the issue, addressing the impacted parties, or presenting a united front.
A notable example of this type of PR in action is KFC’s ‘FCK bucket’ ad campaign. After the company was forced to shut over 900 restaurants owing to issues with its chicken supplier, KFC released a humble, down-to-earth apology to customers, featuring an expletive anagram of the fast food chain’s name — get it? Research showed that the campaign helped KFC avoid any reputational damage from the debacle, a testament to just how effective crisis communications PR can be.
PR isn’t all about responding to crises though, and one type that is more proactive is media relations PR. This involves interacting and developing relationships with members of the media so that they’ll report positively on your business.
Doing this on our clients’ behalf has enabled Pitch to secure them extensive media coverage, like when we helped Great British Racing obtain 236 items of PR coverage for its ’Racing’s New Horizon’ campaign.
There are so many ways brands can help persuade the media to cover them, from writing press releases for publications to use, to pitching stories, interviews and quotes relating to their industry or company. For example, one common method is newsjacking (also called issue jumping), where a company adds its comments to a breaking news story for the media to use.
Just like it’s good practice for brands to foster relationships with the media, the same is true for companies and the local community. Community relations PR helps brands to foster goodwill among locals and demonstrate that they care about those in the area they’re based, helping to boost their reputation.
For successful community relations efforts, brands need to understand how the community in question thinks and acts, and how best to interact with it — whether by hosting events, visiting locals, or donating to nearby businesses or other types of organisation. There are so many examples of companies doing good in the community, including the likes of Microsoft, Samsung, and Starbucks.
Social responsibility communications
The next type of PR often overlaps with community relations, though it is a lot broader in scope. Social responsibility communications is where brands attempt to improve their reputation by establishing PR strategies that emphasise how ethical, charitable and socially responsible they are. For instance, a company might commit to becoming carbon neutral by a particular date, and then widely publicise this.
A case in point Pitch’s ‘Upliftford’ campaign for sports brand ASICS, which aimed to emphasise the power of exercise for improving mental health. We helped ASICS transform the town of Retford into a movement-inspired gym for a day, turning bus stops to ‘bus steps’ and benches into ‘bench presses’.
Internal communications are aimed at internal company stakeholders, such as the C-suite, staff, and investors. It is used to improve the company’s reputation in their eyes, and has benefits like boosting internal relations, departmental engagement, and staff morale. Common internal communication methods include e-newsletters, intranet messages, meetings, and events.
There are plenty of great internal communications examples out there. For instance, Unilever won awards for its ‘Unmute’ campaign to raise awareness among employees about domestic violence, as did Royal Mail for its revamp of the company magazine (called ‘Courier’).
Pitch can help you reap the rewards of the different types of PR with our world-class PR services, whether you’re looking to target consumers or corporate audiences. We use cultural currency to help our clients reach larger audiences through the power of earned media, combining unbridled creativity with a laser focus to deliver impressive results.