As the Israel-Hamas war has unfolded, stakeholders are re-evaluating companies based on their ties to the conflict.

PublicRelay examined how public opinion and media reporting on major brands has evolved since the start of the conflict. We found that ties to the Israeli government are a looming corporate reputational risk. And that threat is set to grow as Americans become increasingly sympathetic to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

There’s been a remarkable shift in public opinion in the last six months

Polling data from Gallup reveals that early opinion towards Israel’s military strategy was in the country’s favor. At this point, Israel was still reeling from Hamas’ October 7th attacks.

The Israeli government’s reaction was at the center of news coverage in November. The media commended corporate leaders for backing Israeli citizens in need. This included Google’s Sundar Pichai and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, who expressed steadfast support for the country.

But as time marched on, Americans became more aware about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. By March, public opinion had largely turned against the Israeli military strategy. Media reporting reflected this, as coverage of Palestine and Gaza overtook mentions of military conflict between Israel military and Hamas for the first time.

As the attention on Gaza has grown, so has the backlash on brands’ ties to the Israeli military. The mainstream media that once praised businesses for showing support now spotlight accusations of bias against Palestine.

Exposure to the conflict is both an external and internal communications issue

We found that some of the largest companies in world have been unprepared to respond to consumer backlash. Both McDonalds and Coca-Cola have already reported declining sales linked directly to boycotts. This is especially a risk for companies with younger audiences, who have been the driving force behind protests.

But the consequences go beyond your customer base. Protests by activist employees have steered the media cycle in recent months. This creates an internal communications issue that could put all companies with ties to the Israeli government at risk.

Google, for example, has been traditionally known for their open work culture. In recent months, the company faced internal backlash over their Israeli military contracts. The tech giant has limited company message boards and fired protesters, acting out-of-line with their cultivated brand image. High profile outlets have called out Google’s ambiguous public statements on their actions. Their response has fueled a narrative of unpreparedness around internal dissent.

Plan your response today

As American opinion continues to turn against Israel’s military actions, it’s clear that organizations with ties to Israel’s military have unavoidable exposure to the public discourse. Smart leaders should assess their risk profile relative to their customer and employee bases and plan responses now. Communicators need to prepare targeted response strategies ahead of time to effectively address concerns from external and internal stakeholders alike.

To learn more about our research contact us here.

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Employee Brand Ambassadors

Employer brand – your company’s reputation as a place to work – goes beyond impacting recruitment efforts. It’s an essential facet of your overall corporate reputation and can even influence consumers’ purchasing decisions.

You may think a satisfied workforce translates into a strong workplace reputation, but employee experience and employer brand aren’t always aligned. And that disconnect can come down to your communications.

However, employee brand ambassadors can help bridge the gap.

Engaging your employees as brand ambassadors can be one of the most powerful methods for improving public perceptions of your company’s workplace culture and managing your reputation.

What is an Employee Brand Ambassador?

A brand ambassador is an employee who promotes a company’s employer brand to their personal networks, usually via social media. As a prerequisite, they often have substantial social followings and online conduct that aligns with the brand’s values.

Traditionally, brand ambassadors were “influencers” – usually celebrities or individuals with significant name recognition – unaffiliated with the company they were paid to endorse (think Kiera Knightley and Chanel).

But rather than using prominent figures as they do for product endorsements, companies often turn to employees to advocate on behalf of their workplace culture.

Why Recruit Employees as Advocates?

Communications teams should recruit employees as advocates because audiences view employees as authentic and trustworthy sources of insight into their company’s mission, values, and ethics.

Stephanie Genin, Global Vice President of Enterprise Marketing at Hootsuite, explains that “brands are seeing value in influencer marketing because consumers are more influenced by an authentic, human communication than by corporate jargon.”

Not only does the public have more trust in perceived “normal” people, but the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 53% of all global audiences view employees as the most credible source of information when forming an opinion of a company. Another 78% agreed that “how a company treats its employees is one of the best indicators of its level of trustworthiness.”

In other words, employees are one of your most valuable resources for managing your workplace reputation.

Create an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Consider engaging employees as brand ambassadors an element of your internal communications strategy.

And by launching an employee brand ambassador program, you can more effectively mobilize employee advocates to deliver the key messages that support your communications objectives.

Here are three ways to build a program optimized for impact:

Assess Your Employer Brand

Implementing an employee brand ambassador program is an opportunity to evaluate and understand your existing employer brand.

You must assess two aspects of your employer brand: employee experience and workplace reputation.

Employee Experience

Research your company’s employee experience on employee review sites like Glassdoor and social media platforms. For real-time feedback and suggestions for improvement, you can hold focus groups or conduct an employee feedback survey to assess your existing workplace culture.

Suppose it becomes evident your employees are unsatisfied with your company as an employer. This may be the place to start – by fostering a positive workplace environment and recognizing employee achievements – before recruiting ambassadors.

Alternatively, if your research indicates your company has successfully established a positive workplace culture, you can utilize this data to pinpoint your company’s strengths and identify themes for your ambassadors to highlight.

Workplace Reputation

To evaluate your external workplace reputation, you can use reputation polls or corporate reputation rankings to gain insight into public perceptions of your company as a place to work.

You can also use media analytics for a nuanced understanding of how the media covers your brand on various workplace reputational drivers that shape public opinions of your company culture.

Analyzing the data on your company’s workplace reputation against its employee experience will reveal any misalignment between the two and the workplace topics that could benefit most from your employee endorsements.

Recruit Volunteers

The value of employee endorsements resides in their personal experiences with the company and their willingness to advocate on behalf of the brand. Accordingly, enlisting brand ambassadors on a volunteer basis is crucial to the authenticity at the crux of their support.

Not only do audiences view employees as more trustworthy sources of information on a brand, but an authentic employee endorsement of your company as a workplace is one of the most impactful methods of verifying and reinforcing your desired employer reputation.

Encourage Ownership

Ramp up your internal communications and provide your team with frequent updates on company news and employee achievements, along with tools to simplify social sharing.

Encourage employees to take ownership of personal and company accomplishments by highlighting their role in successes and output. When employees are invested in their work and recognized for their performance, they will be more inclined to share positive company news with their social networks.

Take Control of Your Workplace Reputation

Engaging your employees as a part of your communications strategy will make your workplace messages more credible and ultimately improve public perceptions of your company culture.

At PublicRelay, we measure your workplace reputation as it’s represented in media coverage and on employee review sites, including Glassdoor and Indeed. With this insight, you can better understand your current reputation and benchmark your performance and the impact of your employee ambassador program in influencing your public perceptions of your brand. Start improving your workplace reputation now!

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There’s a reason the saying “communication is key” hasn’t fallen out of fashion. Straightforward and effective communication is the driving force that turns a good PR team into a great one. But PR professionals’ role extends beyond external-facing communications. They must also apply their expertise to the flow of information within their company. According to Forbes, a good company culture built on strong communications can quadruple company revenue. In that sense, every PR team should strive to have exemplary internal communications.

What is Internal Communications in PR?

Internal communications in PR is the sharing of information between departments, teams, and team members within a company. It can take the form of meetings, Q&As, task delegations, newsletters, and check-ins. If we imagine workplace operations as a freeway, then the internal communications is the traffic. Is the flow of traffic quick and efficient? Or is it grid-locked and bumper-to-bumper? Improving this communication is like getting everyone in your company to navigate from the same map and use their turn signals: things go much more smoothly!

Why is Internal Communications in PR Important?

Internal communications in PR is important because it keeps teams organized, ensures consistency across the company, and reduces the stress that confusion or miscommunication may cause employees. In fact, internal communications methods can reduce employee stress and turnover, and increase motivation for the simple reason that employees feel valued and informed.

Because communication impacts workplace operations and employee experience, its effects spill over to client-facing interactions and, eventually, workplace reputation.

Client Communications

Effective communication across your company influences how clients perceive your team and its operations. Receiving straightforward and consistent information indicates to your clients that your team is competent, efficient, and working from the same playbook. It also shows that in times of urgency or high stress, your team can easily organize and handle changes at a fast pace.

Workplace Reputation

Regular communications can reinforce your company culture and values, and promote transparency within the workplace. Not to mention, having avenues for employees to communicate their questions or concerns helps them to feel heard. When employees feel valued and aligned with their company’s vision, you will see the results reflected in employee reviews and external perceptions of your company as a place to work.

Ways to Improve Internal Communications for Your PR Team

Effective information transmission within your company is essential to maintaining a positive workplace culture and reputation.

Here are a few ways your PR team can improve your internal communications strategy:

Assess Your Current Communications Approach

How is your PR team currently sharing information within the company? Is there a strategy for facilitating information sharing between teams and departments? Examine your current strategy and identify any strengths and weaknesses so you can focus on changes that will benefit your team immediately. For candid feedback on your current operations, you can also conduct anonymous employee surveys. Because your communications ultimately affect workplace reputation, your team can also use media measurement to understand how your workplace culture is represented. Comparing your internal employee surveys with an analysis of your workplace reputation can highlight whether any issues are the result of internal or external PR.

Create an Internal Strategy

It’s easy to let communications within your organization slide without a strategy in place. Treat internal comms like your external PR strategy by developing an action plan with designated roles and protocols for each member of your team. Doing so establishes accountability with clearly defined roles, facilitates consistency with a structured plan of action, and ensures that your entire organization receives reliable information.

Share News Regularly

To be truly effective, sharing news internally must move in all directions: with “top-down” and “bottom-up” communication between higher and lower-level employees, and regular sharing across departments and within teams.

To facilitate multi-directional information sharing, your PR team can organize company-wide meetings with executive-led Q&As, and recommend “office hours” hosted by higher-level employees to give entry-level employees an avenue for sharing.

You can also keep the entire company informed by publishing a regular internal newsletter. This isn’t just constrained to company news and updates, but also sharing information on ongoing projects in various departments, any necessary FAQs, and employee successes and achievements.

Encourage Social Sharing

A team that is practiced and aligned on what the brand stands for is in an optimal position to share your company values. Employee brand ambassadors are a great way to optimize the best practices of your internal communications strategy, as this allows a consistent image of the brand to be shared by a trusted resource: your employees!

Your employee ambassadors can project workplace reputation and company culture to the public, which allows your audience to consume an approved image of your brand. Further, having employee brand ambassadors indicates that the workplace is organized, efficient, and unified in its mission, and that your employees are satisfied. They are a testament to your company culture and ultimately stand to improve your workplace reputation.

You can mobilize your employees as ambassadors by encouraging them to share company news, successes, and events on social media. People want to be proud of where they work and offering curated updates on company news through internal newsletters is a great way to give information to employees that they can easily share on their social media platforms.

Use Analytics to Improve Your Internal Communications

When a company is united with a successful internal communications strategy, the employees, clients, and overall brand benefit. By using communications to improve day-to-day operations and employee experience, you can strengthen and manage your workplace reputation.

PublicRelay can help your team take control of your internal comms by tracking how your workplace reputation is represented in your media coverage and benchmarking your progress. Using human-augmented technology, our advanced solution reliably detects sentiment and the complex topics that matter most to your brand.

Click here to learn more!

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What measures do you use to understand your company’s reputation?

Let’s say you’re using reputational surveys. With the poll results, you can break down public views of your company into various dimensions (e.g., leadership, products and services, vision, culture, etc.) to evaluate your standing.

But how do you know if public perceptions of your company accurately reflect the quality of each dimension, or if they’re the result of inadequate PR?

Take Facebook.

Facebook’s reputation has, without a doubt, suffered over the past few years. According to Axios, the steady decline in the company’s favorability ratings all started when news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018. Since then, it has been faced with regular negative media attention, from concerns over data protection to claims that the company is aware that its social media service, Instagram, is harmful to teens’ mental health.

Facebook’s deterioration in the public eye has been largely attributable to operational issues and internal information exposed in ongoing legal battles and by whistleblowers.

But what about the company’s reputation as an employer? Consumers have poor views of Facebook as a place to work, but how accurate are public perceptions of the company’s employee experience?

At PublicRelay, we wanted to better understand how well public impressions of a company’s workplace align with how its employees feel. Using data from our employee experience solution, Barometer, and market research firm, Harris Poll, we examined the internal and external perspectives of companies’ workplaces to see what we could learn about employer branding.

What is Employer Branding?

Employer branding is a company’s reputation as a place to work. This differs from the company’s overall reputation which includes its value proposition to customers and instead refers to its value proposition to its employees. Both, however, can be managed with effective public relations.

Though it is most often considered in terms of recruitment and talent acquisition, employer branding is also a facet of companies’ public reputation and plays a role in its overall business success.

Why is Employer Branding Important?

Employer branding is important because perceptions of employee experience can influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. In other words, millennials and Gen Z are socially conscious consumers, meaning they consider a company’s practices – including how it treats its employees – when deciding whether to become a customer.

Evaluating Employer Branding

We analyzed companies’ reputations by comparing two data sources using cross dataset analysis: average employee review star ratings and 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 reputational survey results.

Harris Poll measures corporate reputation across seven dimensions: Products, Growth, Vision, Trust, Culture, Ethics, and Citizenship. In this instance, “Culture” is defined as public perceptions of or a company’s reputation as being a “good company to work for.”

Facebook’s Employer Branding Disconnect

Generally, there was a positive correlation between a company’s average employee star ratings and its Harris Poll reputation score. In other words, companies with positive reputations overall also had high employee star ratings. And vice versa.

But Facebook is an interesting outlier.

Facebook ranked #98 out of 100 companies overall – with a reputation categorized by Harris Poll as “critical” in its condition. This may come as no surprise.

And, though Facebook is rated number 96 on culture – among the bottom ten “Worst Performing Companies by Reputation Dimension” – the company has an average employee review star rating of 4.16 out of 5 stars, ranking number six out of 48 companies evaluated.

The Role of PR in Employer Branding

This finding represents a gap between actual experiences of Facebook as an employer and public perceptions of Facebook as a company to work for.

Its employer branding disconnect indicates that Facebook doesn’t just have an HR or an employee experience problem, but a PR problem when it comes to its employer reputation.

So, what does this mean for PR teams?

How PR Can Improve Your Employer Branding Strategy

Effective public relations can make the difference between good and bad employer branding.

Here are a few ways you can improve your employer branding strategy that will impact public perceptions of your company as a place to work:

Mobilize Your Employee Brand Ambassadors

Consumers view employees as one of the most credible sources of information on a company. Engaging your employees to become brand ambassadors and promote your company is crucial to improving your employer branding. Hearing from employees who are willing to advocate on behalf of a brand can counter any negative perceptions consumers may have formed about the company as a workplace.

You can start by recruiting employee volunteers who are enthusiastic about working for your company. It’s essential that your brand ambassadors voluntarily endorse your company to ensure authenticity. Not only that, but consumers will also be more likely to trust employee praise if it feels authentic.

In addition, be sure to make it simple. Circulate company news internally and promote positive stories and employee recognition with links that allow employees to easily share it with their networks.

Analyze and Respond to Employee Reviews

Employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed provide a wealth of information that can support your employer branding strategy.

Your team can analyze your employee reviews to pinpoint your company’s strengths and weaknesses as a workplace and build messaging campaigns from those insights.

Negative employee reviews present an opportunity, too. According to Glassdoor, “7 out of 10 people surveyed indicated they had changed their opinion about a brand after seeing the company reply to a review.” Graciously responding to bad employee reviews and indicating that the company plans to take the criticism on board can actually improve your reputation.

Build a Workplace-Focused Media Campaign

Perhaps your media campaigns have focused on your leadership team or financial results – all important factors to your stakeholders.

But don’t forget to promote your company as a workplace as an essential part of your PR strategy.

Start by asking: what is your value proposition to your employees? And do your employee reviews corroborate it?

From there, build a workplace-focused media campaign that promotes your desired employer branding and highlights your strengths as an employer.

Not only will generating earned media coverage dramatically extend the reach of your workplace campaigns, but it will also improve awareness of your employer brand. Further, partnering with key industry influencers will add credibility to your workplace messaging.

Track Your Reputational Drivers

Start measuring your company’s earned media coverage according to reputational drivers to track how your employer branding is represented publicly. Remember, your employee experience can be exceptional, but if the public isn’t aware of it, then your employer branding may suffer.

By tracking reputational drivers, you can distill your workplace mentions from coverage of other dimensions of your reputation to assess your employer branding. You can also gain a more nuanced understanding of your branding because your coverage is broken down by subcategories, such as compensation, advancement opportunities, workplace safety, etc.

Let’s say analysis of your employee reviews indicate that workers value the advancement opportunities offered by your company. But, upon analyzing your earned media, you learn that coverage of your employer brand focuses on compensation and is neutral in tone. With this insight, you can launch a campaign highlighting your company’s advancement opportunities and employees who have scaled the ranks internally. Then, encourage your employee brand ambassadors to share their stories of advancement and growth within your company.

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your PR

To truly take control of your company’s reputation, you must first understand it. Facebook’s employer branding disconnect reveals the limitations to measuring your brand with reputational surveys alone.

By analyzing multiple data sources, you can deepen your understanding of your brand reputation and determine whether public perceptions of your company are the result of business operations or ineffective PR.

At PublicRelay, our human-augmented AI approach to media analytics enables you to track the topics, concepts, and ideas that shape your reputation. When analyzed against additional data evaluating your reputation, this 360-degree view of your brand will allow you to develop highly refined and impactful campaigns.

Uncover the insights from your employee reviews and start measuring the earned media coverage shaping your brand today!

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The ongoing pandemic and changing social values have redefined brand trust and public expectations of corporate brands. Further, a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer survey found that 70% of consumers feel that trust in a company is more important today than ever before. But what exactly does it mean to today’s customers?

What is Brand Trust?

Brand trust is the degree of faith consumers have in your company to deliver on its promises. In addition to the quality of a company’s products or services, it can also refer to its financial performance or commitment to social causes. More recently, issues related to ESG and CSR have become more significant aspects of consumers’ trust in a brand. This aligns with the 74% of consumers who say that companies’ sizable impact on society and the planet is the main reason it has taken center stage.

Why is Brand Trust Important?

Brand trust is important because customers are more likely to purchase products and services from companies they feel they can rely on.

Trust significantly influences consumer behavior and purchase intent. Edelman’s 2020 survey – which included respondents from 11 countries – found that consumers rated trust as the second most important factor (behind price and affordability) when deciding to buy from a new brand or become a loyal customer.

Despite its importance, Havas’ 2021 Meaningful Brands Report indicates that only 39% of brands are trusted by consumers.

5 Ways to Build Brand Trust

So, what does this mean for PR teams?

Here are five ways your team can create a brand trust strategy that truly resonates with your target audience:

Know Your Audience

Consumers’ values when it comes to trust vary by audience demographics and interests. When studying trust across generations, Morning Consult found that not only are Millennials (1981 – 1995) and Gen Z (1996 – 2012) less trusting of the average brand, but they are also more likely to prioritize ethical concerns when choosing companies to trust. While the two younger generations are more likely to choose brands that align with their personal values, Gen X (1965 – 1980) consumers demonstrate greater long-term loyalty to their chosen brands.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to appealing to audiences, but it’s evident they all expect brands to meet certain standards. An in-depth understanding of your audience is crucial to building trust and maintaining consumer loyalty to your brand.

Define Your Values

Modern consumers favor brands that care about more than just profit. With your audience’s values in mind, consider where your company stands on each aspect of ESG and CSR. Over half of American consumers believe it’s important for companies to take a stand on social, environmental, and political issues. So, rather than steering clear of divisive topics, determine your company’s stance and publicize it. Millennials and Gen Z claim they are most receptive to brands sharing their stances on social media, in particular. Take advantage of your social channels to promote your values and highlight any work your company is doing to improve sustainability, ensure workplace safety, or promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), etc.

Show Authenticity

Research has shown that authenticity contributes to brands’ trustworthiness and perceived value. Use your social media channels to create authentic content and establish a connection with your audience.

According to Forbes, the key to being authentic is to “keep it real.” This means sharing the good and the bad with your audience, being honest and accountable when you fail, and maintaining a consistent, relatable voice across your channels. Your audience wants to feel as though they are hearing from a human being on the other end of your social accounts, not a disembodied corporation.

Ensure Transparency

A commitment to full transparency is fundamental to building and maintaining brand trust, even when your company makes mistakes. You can ensure transparency by being honest about your company’s operations and making information readily accessible to the public. Your consumers want to know that you are accountable to them and aren’t misleading with any of the information you share or withhold.

Two key steps towards transparency include admitting to your failures and outlining your plans to address them, and responding to online reviews in a way that demonstrates your openness to criticism.

Avoid Empty Promises

Audiences are wary of brands who are hopping on the social values bandwagon without making any operational changes towards an impact. You can show your consumers that your company has put action and money behind those values by measuring and reporting your CSR, ESG, and DEI efforts and impact.

Similarly, avoid claiming that your brand supports any values that align with your audience’s if you can’t back them up with evidence that your company is acting. Your audience will hold you accountable.

Measure Your Impact

In this era of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to build and strengthen consumers’ faith in your company. By taking steps to establish trust with your audience, you can improve consumer loyalty long-term.

But how do you know if your PR strategy is resonating with your audience and moving the needle on brand trust?

With the majority of brand work taking place across social platforms, understanding the conversations happening around broad social topics is essential to inform your strategy. You can then use social media listening to evaluate your social presence.

With our human-augmented AI approach to media analytics, PublicRelay can accurately evaluate text for sentiment, context, and multidimensional concepts across social, traditional, and broadcast media.

Click here to learn how you can start measuring your media coverage today!

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Brand credibility is crucial for a company to establish itself and is a key factor in sustained growth. For that reason, understanding brand credibility and how it can be influenced by earned media coverage is an important aspect of managing a company’s reputation. While it is most effectively built over time, PR teams can take several steps to help expedite the process.

What is Brand Credibility?

Brand credibility is the level of trust consumers have in a brand and their perceptions of its expertise. The Association for Consumer Research further explains it as “the believability of the product information contained in a brand, which requires that consumers perceive that the brand has the ability (i.e., expertise) and willingness (i.e., trustworthiness) to continuously deliver what has been promised.” It is an aspect of a company’s reputation that is most often cultivated over time as the quality of its products or services proves consistent and its brand awareness increases.

Why is Brand Credibility Important?

Brand credibility is important because the ability to garner consumers’ trust is essential to brand health. Trust in a company’s product and message, along with confidence in its ability to deliver a consistent and high-quality product, reflects positively on a company’s reputation and sets it apart from competitors. Customers must be able to rely on the quality of the product or service the brand is providing. A 2019 study of trust and risk perspectives of high-value brands noted that “customers adopt trust as a shortcut to avoid complex decision processes that carry risk.” If a company gives reason for skepticism, a consumer is more likely to forgo it for another brand. Overall, credible brands have more forgiving relationships and personal connections with their consumers.

Ways to Build Your Brand Credibility

Brand credibility can be difficult to build because of the time it takes to develop consistency and social proof. It can take years to prove to consumers that your products or services are reliable and for positive reviews to accumulate. However, a brand’s earned media coverage can increase its visibility and boost public perceptions of the validity of its claims.

Here are four ways you can build brand credibility:

Promote Spokesperson Coverage

Coverage of your company spokespeople and executives in reputable or industry-recognized third-party media outlets can establish the credibility and expertise of your brand. By securing bylines or offering quotes or interviews to relevant trade publications, consumers will see that your brand representatives are regarded as credible and experts in their fields. Even simply having a quote appear in a priority outlet can help build the integrity of your brand and perceived expertise. Further, contributing articles to industry publications or being cited for thought leadership can be an additional boost to your spokespeople’s reputations as experts.

Leverage Your Social Media Channels

Using social media allows for a direct connection between a brand and its consumers and paves the wave for establishing trust with your audience. According to a 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer special report, “four in 10 consumers say they are unlikely to become emotionally attached to a brand unless they are interacting via social media.” Being active and present on social media can show an attentiveness toward customers’ concerns, and allow a brand to boost its perceived authenticity which, in turn, fosters trust.

Build Social Proof

Social proof refers to the tendency of people to look to the opinions of others to guide their actions and beliefs. Social proof is vital to public relations because people’s judgments are shaped by others when they’re uncertain of how to feel about a new product or brand. There are several ways to build social proof that will resonate with your target audience.

For instance, positive reviews from past customers serve to confirm the quality and reliability of your products or services for prospective customers. Likewise, testimonials from existing clients or relevant influencers are useful for building trust among a shared target audience. Recent research has even found that celebrity trust in a company can significantly impact brand credibility.

Evaluate Your Strategy

Brand credibility takes time to develop, and some tactics may work better than others. Monitoring the impact of your spokesperson coverage, social proof, and influencer strategies on the portrayal of your company in earned media coverage can indicate whether your PR outputs are resonating with your target audience.

Build a media measurement program that tracks the metrics and industry topics that matter most to your reputation for data to guide your messaging and approach. By tracking your company’s earned media coverage, you can evaluate the impact of your campaigns on your brand credibility and learn from your competitors to inform your communications strategy.

Measuring Brand Credibility

Brand credibility is an essential facet of brand health. It cements a company and its representatives as reputable, allowing it greater longevity. Being mindful of the factors that contribute to perceptions of trust and expertise is crucial for PR teams looking to build or improve credibility.

With our unique human-AI hybrid approach to media measurement, PublicRelay can help your team benchmark your brand against competitors and gauge your impact in obtaining high brand credibility. Start measuring your earned media coverage now!

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Environmental, social, and governance concerns are becoming increasingly pressing and attracting the attention of both corporations and consumers. According to PwC, consumers and employees now expect businesses to invest in “making sustainable improvements to the environment and society, not just comply with regulations.” In fact, they found that overwhelming majorities (over 75%) of both consumers and employees are more likely to buy from or work for companies that share their values across the various dimensions of ESG.

As the importance of ESG grows, it plays an even more significant role in companies’ brand reputations. For this reason, it’s vital to strengthen your ESG communications strategy to shape and manage your company narrative.

What is ESG?

ESG (Environmental, Social, and [Corporate] Governance) is a framework for assessing a company’s sustainability and conscientiousness across three categories of interest for “socially responsible investors,” according to the Corporate Finance Institute. While it has been a prominent topic in the world of investing for a while, companies are becoming more concerned with their overall ESG practices and initiatives as a brand. These issues broadly fall under the blanket term “business ethics” – a company’s morals and values, which they may express through their policies, statements, and actions. While social responsibility may not seem as vital or urgent as financial performance to the success of a business, it can make or break a company’s reputation. Most reputation management crises can be classified under one or more of the three dimensions.

Why is ESG Important?

ESG is important because it helps guide companies’ business approaches by considering the values of the next generation of consumers. According to FirstInsight, Generation Z consumers, in particular, are making even more purchase decisions based on sustainable retail practices. SmallBusiness also points out that companies with a strong ethical identity tend to maintain a higher degree of stakeholder satisfaction, in turn leading to greater financial results. Furthermore, ESG best practices help to maintain a good reputation in the public eye, making consumers more likely to purchase from and remain loyal to a company.

ESG Framework

Each of ESG’s three components includes a set of criteria that businesses can be evaluated by:


Environmental criteria involve a company’s attitude and actions on climate change issues. The use of renewable energy sources, waste management programs, and environmental protection fall under this category.

For example, there has been increasing pressure on corporations to lower their consumption of single-use plastics. The Plastic Waste Makers Index recently found that twenty companies are the source of more than half of all single-use plastic thrown away globally. Environmental initiatives like the one undertaken by Coca-Cola – which aims to have its packaging comprised of 50% recycled material by 2030 – signal to consumers that a company is taking ownership of its eco-footprint and takes ESG concerns seriously.

Not only can environmentally-conscious practices help businesses save money – complying with environmental regulations avoids costly tariffs – but going green can also boost sales with 78% of people more likely to purchase a product that is clearly labeled as environmentally friendly. Overall, businesses can maximize profits and improve their brand identity by appealing to modern, environmentally conscious consumers.


Social criteria refer to a company’s relationships with its various stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and local communities. For instance, employer brand has been highlighted as a significant aspect of company reputation, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence showed that companies that were respectful, understanding, and flexible towards employees during this time were more likely to have favorable ESG rankings among consumers.

Social criteria also consider businesses’ role in social issues, with 60% of the U.S. population saying that how a brand responds to racial justice protests would influence whether they buy or boycott the brand in the future. Further, consumers want to see companies take a stance on prominent social issues and back up their views with concrete actions. For example, during the Black Lives Matter movement, the public paid close attention to which corporations were coming out in support of people of color. Not only that, but a study by YPulse found the younger generation of consumers expected brands to follow up on any social media statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement with donations or by changing their business practices.


Corporate governance criteria describe how a corporation is managed from the top-down. In other words, how key decision-makers respond to crises while protecting the rights of their stakeholders.

Governance encompasses financial and accounting transparency, as well as workplace practices. For instance, the MeToo movement shown a light on companies’ corporate governance, with many forced to examine whether they had enforced policies and practices that ensured a safe working environment for women.

Neglecting or failing to follow healthy corporate governance standards can be detrimental to business and can have lasting ramifications not only for a company’s financial performance but also for its brand reputation.

How to Improve Your ESG Communications Strategy

Given how impactful implementing an ESG strategy can be on business performance, it will continue to play an important role in public relations for years to come.

PR teams must effectively communicate their company’s ESG goals and the actions they’re taking to achieve them. By setting and publicizing targets, businesses allow their employees and the public to hold them accountable to their goals, garnering more trust in the process.

Here are a few ways to improve your ESG communications strategy:

Know Your Audience

Understanding the values of your audience is a vital step in strengthening your ESG strategy. By examining survey and polling data, you can assess which elements of ESG are most important to your target audience. This will make it easier to cater your ESG communications approach to each demographic. Market research allows you to prioritize coverage of the issues your target audience cares about most, whether that’s your company’s contribution to the racial justice movement or efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. You should also evaluate the best way to reach each demographic. For instance, regularly updating social media platforms may be a great tool to engage younger consumers in your socially responsible accomplishments. Likewise, a monthly newsletter in the inboxes of employees can be a fantastic way to keep them involved.

Define Your Narrative

Understanding your purpose as a company and what you can contribute to society is inextricably linked to ESG performance. Set clear and achievable goals and ensure that you have internal buy-in. In doing so, you are setting the standard for a united ESG strategy with the support of your stakeholders. The next step is to communicate those goals to relevant stakeholders through a cohesive narrative. A memorable ESG mission statement is a simple but effective way to get a message across. A perfect example is Starbucks’s sustainability initiative, Shared Planet, which they describe as a “commitment to do business in ways that are good for people and the planet.”

Promote your company’s ESG goals by sharing success stories, converting ESG data and outcomes into infographics, publishing employee testimonials, and writing press releases. Develop strategies for getting your company’s ESG experts cited on key topics and share relevant content with publications to increase your company’s visibility. Decide what your key messages are and make sure they are being heard.

Evaluate Your Strategy

As you continue to spread your chosen ESG narrative, it’s essential to track earned media coverage and note which communications efforts are most effective. Incorporating media monitoring and analytics will put the efficacy of your ESG communications strategy to the test. By understanding key message penetration and sentiment around your ESG initiatives, you can adjust your communications strategy accordingly. You can also glean insights from your industry and competitors’ earned media coverage. By gauging what is or isn’t working for them and your shared audience, you can carve out your unique brand voice. Measuring different forms of engagement, such as social sharing, can also be a very useful tool in determining the success of your strategy. After all, what use is a fantastic press release showcasing your ESG initiatives if nobody reads it? Media monitoring can gauge whether the right messages are reaching the right people.

Build a Better Strategy

A strong ESG communications strategy is essential to PR teams’ ability to manage their company reputation. With an in-depth analysis of your company’s earned media coverage, your team can craft campaigns in line with your stakeholder’s values as they evolve. Understanding how your company and your key competitors are performing on the various dimensions of ESG will provide you with a clear path towards achieving your communications goals. The ability to accurately discern sentiment, context, and nuance has never been more relevant, which is why PublicRelay’s human-AI hybrid approach to media monitoring is even better for analyzing ESG topics than a purely automated tool. Click here to learn more now!

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Communications teams have the incredible responsibility of managing their company reputation across all forms of media. What may appear to be a simple task spans a seemingly infinite number of online outlets, print publications, and social sites with constantly changing discussions. Not only that, but conversations around your brand can quickly become cacophonous and make it difficult to decipher how your brand is represented.

What is Reputation Management?

Reputation management is the act of influencing or controlling public perceptions of a company. With the increasing shift towards digital media, the practice requires consideration of traditional, online, broadcast, and social media.

Managing your reputation is both active and reactive and is shaped by three types of coverage: earned, paid, and owned media. Paid media relates to advertising, earned media encompasses traditional media coverage and social discussions, and owned media refers to content published by your organization, like your company website, blog, and social media.

Why is Reputation Management Important?

Reputation management is important because it can help your company build trust and brand loyalty in an era when consumers are more informed, demanding, and skeptical than ever. As younger generations amass more buying power, monitoring your brand can also help ensure your company stays relevant in a highly competitive market. For instance, Gen Z favors authenticity, fun, and tech when they consider brands – do you know how your company is performing in those areas?

The factors influencing how a brand is perceived expand far beyond the scope of typical business operations: they now encompass social and environmental responsibility, corporate governance, and community relations. PR teams are even developing practices around CEO activism to maintain a reputation that connects with today’s consumers. Investing in reputation management can help your company make sure it is represented favorably by the media and that its portrayal stays relevant.

Steps to Build a Reputation Management Strategy

Building a reputation management strategy begins with identifying your reputational drivers: the key aspects that construct your brand’s identity. After determining the topics that drive your brand’s coverage, implement a data-based media strategy to track your key messages and develop strategies to correct divergences from your desired brand. Monitoring competitor coverage can also help your team to predict trends and develop internal strategies for crisis response.

Identify Your Reputational Drivers

Start by identifying the key factors that drive your company’s reputation, also known as reputational drivers. At PublicRelay, we have developed a framework of seven essential reputation drivers that can be applied or adapted to any company: products and services, business strategy, workplace, leadership, corporate social responsibility, financial performance, and government relations.

Reputational drivers work together to help paint a cohesive picture of the public perception of your brand and should be tailored to represent your company and industry. Maybe your company has reworked its communications themes for 2021, and emphasis on diversity is crucial. After all, a growing number of consumers are changing their consumption habits to frequent more diverse businesses. Using the reputational drivers “workplace” and “corporate social responsibility” you can track sub-categories such as “diversity” and “DEI initiatives” to accurately assess your performance on specific facets of your reputational goals.

Your team may not yet know the full breadth of the drivers that comprise your corporate reputation. Tracking key industry competitors or launching a whitespace program to monitor PR strategies and discussions in your sector are excellent, in-depth starting points to understand the reputational drivers of both close competitors and larger organizations.

Monitor Your Coverage Using Real-Time Data Analytics

One of the most effective methods for ensuring that your messaging and earned media are consistent with your reputational goals is using real-time analytics. Tracking the volume, tone, and sharing of media output that mentions your company can help you determine how often your key messages are discussed, the sentiment surrounding them, and how readers engage with your coverage.

Using real-time analytics also allows you to pivot and adapt your brand messaging in response to public interests, political activity, and global events. For example, environmental, social, and governance topics have exploded over the last 12 months, with global standard-setters announcing new ways to comprehensively measure and track businesses’ ESG initiatives.

However, be wary of fully automated real-time data analysis solutions – AI and Machine Learning can only accomplish so much when analyzing articles for sentiment, significance, and social context. Alternatively, if humans analyze your data, you can access a richness of reputation analysis that allows for a more useful data set. For example, how can AI determine how ethical your brand appears in earned media? According to McKinsey, ethics are a key aspect influencing decision-making for Gen Z, and human analysis will ensure your coverage is accurately evaluated for such nuanced social issues.   

Develop Data-Based Strategies for Crises That Threaten Reputation

Tracking your company messages and those of your peers can also help shape your approach to crisis communications. When negative publicity threatens your brand’s reputation, you can use data from the experiences of competitors faced with similar crises in the past to inform your response. Whether the move is to remain quiet as coverage passes or issue a carefully worded statement, competitive tracking can give you the foresight to deftly maneuver potential challenges.

Identify the Threats Worth Addressing

Negative articles about your brand will inevitably be published from time to time, but not all bad press is worth addressing. Coverage that threatens your desired brand may be worthy of a response if published by a high-reach outlet or if it garners significant social sharing, as both factors could snowball into additional negative coverage or even result in a communications crisis. Social engagement is especially important, as sharing spreads articles across websites, amplifying their reach exponentially.

Predictive analytics can help your team to see around the corner when it comes to topics with high potential virality, allowing you to know before an article goes viral if it constitutes a potential threat to your brand reputation.  This mechanism can also help you anticipate positive coverage, enabling your team to capitalize on sharing trends.

Start Managing Your Reputation Today

Reputation management is one of the greatest responsibilities of PR and communications teams. While paid and owned media are internally controlled, earned media relies on both a proactive and reactive management strategy best implemented with reputational driver analysis as they appear in the media. With real-time data analysis, your communications team can track how your brand messages are portrayed across earned media, how social users engage your campaigns, and how peer messages appear in the press. A comparative analysis can also allow your company a representative insight into the market, identifying how your reputation stands against peers and what you can learn from their mistakes.

PublicRelay can help your team reactively and proactively track topics that might throw a wrench in your brand management plans. Our new predictive momentum score allows our clients to see the likelihood of an article will going viral on social media. To know if a topic is trending enough to warrant a crisis management-level response, we also offer predictive alerts to notify your team hours in advance of an article that might go viral so you can begin strategizing. To learn more about how PublicRelay can help to manage your brand, click here.

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Media monitoring is the process by which a company keeps track of its media coverage. This practice benefits PR and communications teams in many ways. Most notably, a good monitoring program allows a company to more effectively manage its reputation, one of the greatest assets of any business.

Tracking media coverage has become an increasingly essential part of companies’ PR strategies. With the introduction of social and digital media, coupled with media content that is readily available to people on smart devices, a successful monitoring program is crucial to staying on top of your company’s public image.

Why is Media Monitoring Important?

Media monitoring is important because it helps you stay up-to-date on the latest trends in your industry and provides your PR team with the opportunity to proactively manage your brand. Having a strong monitoring system in place allows your team to listen to and take note of what is going on in your industry and how your business is perceived on a day-to-day basis.

If you want to increase your brand awareness and demonstrate your team’s impact, media monitoring will support your PR team with these goals.

The Best Metrics for Media Monitoring

Many metrics can be used when monitoring media. Selecting the correct metrics when establishing your monitoring program will provide your team with the data necessary to inform your strategy and reach your communications objectives.

Several essential metrics that can provide your PR team with an overarching view of your company’s and your competitors’ media coverage are:

  • Volume and tone of company mentions
  • Key message penetration
  • Top authors and outlets
  • Competitor and industry coverage
  • Social media coverage and engagement
  • Sentiment of coverage
  • Potential impressions

Why Media Monitoring Should Be a Part of Your PR Strategy

Here are a few of the ways media monitoring can support your PR team:

Manage Corporate Reputation

By following the topic and tone of and engagement with your company’s media coverage, you are better prepared to build or adjust your communications strategy accordingly.

With the ability to track what is said about your business, your PR team can quickly react to negative coverage and respond to such stories or mentions constructively, therefore mitigating potential PR crises. It also allows your PR team to identify opportunities to capitalize on positive coverage or trending topics in your industry.

Track Your Key Messages

Key message penetration is an excellent indicator of your brand awareness and the effectiveness of your messaging campaigns. With a media monitoring program that can detect keywords, concepts, and topics related to your campaigns, you can assess the extent to which your key messages have been picked up by the media. You can also determine the sentiment of that coverage, how many people were potentially exposed to it, and the level of social engagement it has received. This level of depth and insight will allow you to evaluate your existing strategy and inform future campaigns.

Know Your Industry and Competition

Beyond your company’s coverage, the coverage of your competitors and industry holds many insights.

Competitive intelligence is a simple way to stay on top of the latest industry developments and trends and to determine your company’s share of voice within your industry. Share of voice gives your team the chance to see how your company is faring directly against your competition. Monitoring your competitors also allows you to identify the topics driving their positive and negative coverage, and that which generates the most social engagement.

Measure the Effectiveness of Your Communications

Media monitoring is a great tool that allows your team to measure and improve the effectiveness of your communications. The insights gained can help you to determine whether you understand your target audience, you are reaching your target audience, and if you’re getting the type of engagement that you are striving for.

With a monitoring tool or service in place, the data is collected automatically, allowing you to perform an ongoing evaluation of your approach. Quality data from monitoring your media can reliably inform decision-making and accurately measure the impact of your communications.

How Does Media Monitoring Work?

Planning and correctly implementing a monitoring program is vital to ensuring the tool’s success for your PR team. If your team doesn’t do the appropriate planning, it’s likely your monitoring program won’t deliver the full extent of its value. A successful planning process will ensure that the program your team develops provides advantages from the beginning.

There are three core steps necessary to make the most of your program:  

Set Objectives

The first stage of planning your monitoring strategy is setting your objectives. What do you want to learn from your media coverage? Knowing this will help you to figure out the type of metrics you need to measure. As a starting point, monitor your company coverage fully, as this will provide a base-level knowledge of your brand. It will also allow your team to measure the impact of your communications over time and compare coverage to previous periods.

Establish Reputational Drivers

Perhaps the most important step is determining the drivers of your corporate reputation. Reputational drivers are the factors that contribute to the overall public perception of a company. Defining and capturing these brand elements will help your team to understand and manage your corporate reputation.

At PublicRelay, we use a framework of essential drivers to guide the planning of your monitoring program. Several core drivers that can apply to most businesses include workplace, leadership, financial performance, and government relations. These drivers, which are mutually exclusive and capture every facet of your company, offer a clearer picture of what is shaping public perceptions of your company.

Gather and Interpret the Data

After collecting initial media data, you can gather and interpret your metrics. The interpretation of the data is what aids you in understanding your business, your competitors, and your industry. As your team interprets the collected data, you can now make changes to your campaigns as needed. With this information, your team can see what works, where you can improve, and which of your key messages are captured by the media. 

With sufficient planning and accurate data collection, your team can draw actionable insights and improve your PR and communications strategies.

Elevate Your Media Monitoring Program

Media monitoring is essential to helping your PR team understand how well your current strategies are working and how your team can continue to plot a path towards future success. To take your strategy to the next level, consider incorporating media analytics into your communications process.

At PublicRelay, we offer clients accurate and in-depth analyses of their media coverage. With our media monitoring solution, we can help you to build a foundation of nuanced, high-quality data to assess the effectiveness of your messaging campaigns. Demonstrate the success of your communications strategy and start tracking your earned media now!

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While PR teams used to rely on press releases and media outlets to connect with their target audiences, social media’s integration into people’s daily lives has made the public more accessible than ever before.

Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication notes that “as both PR and social media are used to build and maintain trust in the company and their products, it is only natural that the two must be in sync.” Unsurprisingly, social platforms have become valuable tools that are essential to communications teams’ ability to increase brand awareness and perceived authenticity with their target audience.

Why is Social Media Important for Public Relations?

Social media is an important tool for PR because it allows you to reach audiences that previously may have been difficult to interact with. With social media, the world is quite literally at your fingertips. Among this population, industry influencers are an indispensable resource that can help your team communicate key messages and lend weight to them, whether via reach or credibility. In addition, social measurement tools can help you assess the impact of your campaigns and fine-tune your strategy.

How to Use Social Media to Support Your PR Strategy

To effectively use social media to support your PR strategy, you must define your goals. Start broad by first determining your overarching objective. Then develop questions such as:

  • What niche do you occupy in your industry?
  • How can you distinguish yourself from your peers and competitors?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Which platforms does your target audience engage with most?
  • What kinds of content does your target audience interact with most?

Delving into these questions and defining clear answers will help you to build a solid foundation to work from. The answers to these questions provide a guideline that you can use to ensure you are working towards your overarching goals as you explore the minutiae of how to do so.

Understand Your Target Audience

While having a large target audience may seem beneficial, it’s more effective to have a narrow and specific description of your target audience. Creating a buyer persona – a detailed profile of your ideal consumer – is one way to do this. Referring to a buyer persona helps to map out the platforms and content that will be most effective in attracting your desired audience. The best way to collect this information is with reliable data and social media analytics. As Business News Daily suggests, “use data to learn about and target your customers based on characteristics such as location, language, and interests.”

Having a focused understanding of your target audience prevents the potential pitfall of spreading your resources too thin or having juxtaposed messaging intending to appeal to various groups of people. The latter of which can appear inconsistent to audiences and confuse your brand messages.

Engage with Influencers

Before the rise of social media, communications teams would have to call media outlets to pitch a story. Now, social media influencers have become a driving force in transmitting messages to target audiences, with research showing that 63% of consumers trust influencers over a brand’s in-house advertisers. In addition to the benefit of effectively reaching audiences that would otherwise be difficult to reach, they also lend authority to messages. Third-party influencers add to message credibility because they are often deemed as subject matter experts by the media.  

Engage with Journalists

Regularly engaging with influencers, especially journalists, can help create genuine relationships that will continue to aid you over time. As Michelle Mekky of Mekky Media Relations explains, Twitter is an excellent tool to use for reaching out to journalists because they “are online for the sole purpose of interacting with the public.”

When identifying journalists, dig into specifics that will help you increase your chances of a beneficial partnership. Decide which outlets fit best with your brand and the journalists from those outlets who regularly write about topics relevant to your industry. You can also scan their Twitter feeds for an indication of the types of stories they engage with to gauge whether you are on the right path.

With this information, you can cater to their interests when reaching out. If your goals and interests appear to align, write a concise message to grab their attention. As Twitter consists of short, fast-paced Tweets, it’s best to comply with those expectations even when messaging someone.

Create a Brand Guideline

Consistency when building brand awareness is the key to establishing familiarity with your audience. Posting social content on a regular schedule and communicating in ways that encapsulate your brand are crucial steps for increasing that brand awareness. Create a brand guideline to help define your brand and establish a point of reference to ensure you have a consistent tone of voice across your social media activity, the nuances of which may differ depending on which platform you are posting. Remember that consistency is what ultimately reinforces your brand. 

Fine-Tuning Your Strategy

Social media is an ever-changing landscape, and you can expect trial-and-error as you find your footing. Knowing what doesn’t work can be just as helpful as knowing what does, and so it’s important to be objectively aware of every failure and success. Using reliable data is essential to assess the impact of your strategy and can help you achieve objectivity. 

At PublicRelay, we can help PR teams assess the impact of their strategy for improving brand sentiment and awareness. With our unique human-AI hybrid approach, we analyze your social, traditional, and broadcast media coverage and provide you with actionable insights to inform your PR strategy. In addition to pinpointing key industry influencers and highlighting the discussions circling your brand, PublicRelay can provide you with both a bird’s-eye-view and an up-close examination of the details. Click here to learn more. 

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