What Small-Medium Sized Businesses Can Learn From the Less Than Stellar PR Moves of Mega Brands
When you think of PR, a lot of times you may find it synonymous with damage control. This should not be the case. A good PR strategy is an ongoing process that allows you to cultivate an nurture relationships with other entities and brands.
Apple flounders following Jobs’ death.
Photo: Tim Cook's Apple Announcement (by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Public relations have never been Apple’s strong suit.
Make no mistake, Steve Jobs was a brilliant marketer, but marketing and public relations do not necessarily go hand in hand. By pretty much all accounts, Jobs was secretive, arrogant, manipulative, and to put it a bit too nicely, a serious control freak. Following Mr. Jobs’ passing in 2011, it seemed reasonable to believe Apple could become more accessible under the reign of the more approachable (and let’s face it, likeable) Tim Cook.
Well… Or not.
As Apple moves from the Jobs' era to a future that is, for all intents and purposes, unclear in terms of brand identity, Apple would be smart to focus on one thing: PR.
Your image is most important asset and greatest liability.
Steve Jobs was brilliant, or at least arrogant enough to believe that he didn’t have to play nice with the media, competitors, or his own employees. He believed Apple’s image would flourish on its own merit. For a time, he was right. Or perhaps he was simply lucky.
For better or worse, Tim Cook does not possess the same level arrogance, or marketing genius as his predecessor. He is a brilliant CEO, but inevitably, every move he makes will be compared, scrutinized and questioned because at the end of the day, he isn't Steve.
With that in mind, Tim Cook can't (or shouldn't) go through his day ignoring what’s said about Apple within the tech world and in the market. By keeping an ear open, your company can absorb what’s being said and ultimately use that information to influence conversation. How many Mac/iPhone/Apple rumors have we read that imply Apple's next device will do everything from print money, transform in to a jet, and fly us off to a private island? In other words, it's easy to let rumors eclipse what's really around the corner.
A smart company is concerned about its public image. Unlike Apple, it will never let wild speculation of journalists, analysts or bloggers go so far off track that it sets unrealistic expectations.
Paula Deen’s Foreseeable Fallout
Paula Deen was known for three things: big hair, butter, and a big mouth. Unfortunately, the big mouth got her in trouble. By now you know the story. If not, a quick Google search will fill you in.
The bottom line is this: when it comes to damage control, stick to a plan.
Waiting until a crisis happens and then rushing to make an apology, release statements, and generally appease your audience will backfire miserably. By releasing not just one, but two ill-fated, never mind ill-timed, apologies via her YouTube channel as soon as rumblings of trouble surfaced, Paula Deen all but sealed the demise of her brand.
It’s important to take the time to develop a crisis management plan before anything goes wrong. No one likes to think about the worst-case scenario, but when something happens, you’ll be glad you did.
Play nice with the media and/or bloggers.
Getting Steve Jobs to do an interview was next to impossible. Tim Cook? Same deal.
For small-medium sized businesses, it often isn’t a matter of doing wide scale press, however, you would be surprised by the influence of bloggers within your industry. Not only should you be open to potentially seeking them out, forming a good relationship can help with generating a positive look at your company without waiting on word of mouth referrals.
If something negative is being said, your followers on various social media platforms are often going to be your biggest ally in quickly coming to your aid in defense.