At a networking event last week, an industry colleague asked me if I’ve ever Googled myself. She whispered the question to me as if to self-Google were verboten. Fortunately, we were interrupted by a mutual friend and neither of us had to share the answer, which is, of course, Yes! Who hasn’t done that in the name of Research? Seriously, though, there are better questions to ponder and smarter ways to approach reputation management. I’ve put forth six questions that, if you can answer these correctly and/or honestly, will take you to the next level (however you may define a higher level). Here goes:
- What are your brand’s 3 search words? If a customer could only use 3 words to search for your organization what would those words be? This will help crystallize what your brand stands for. If the 3 words are “sucky customer service” then that is helpful, too. But what you want to establish is what 3 search words are the ideal descriptors of your brand and live up to those words.
- What are your own personal search words? This one’s about you, because you matter, too. If your industry colleagues were looking for you on the Web and had to use 3 words to describe you (aside from your name and company), what words would they use? Are you satisfied with these descriptors or could you do better?
- What are the Barcelona Principles? Can you name all seven? PR pros with bona fides are in tune with these principles and how to apply them to their practice. Just like the Ten Commandants, which are also difficult to remember verbatim, the Barcelona Principles are our industry guidelines to keep you on track and to practice your trade with purpose.
- Who are the 10 most influential journalists covering your company? Aside from the media databases that spew out name, title, email and phone, identify the reporters who can have a real impact on your brand’s reputation. If you haven’t spoken to them (by voice, not email and text), it’s time to get in front of them and foster an authentic relationship that will benefit you down the line.
- What’s your brand’s story? Imagine reading a short story about your company to your child at bedtime. (Granted, this won’t win you Parent of the Year.) It’s just five pages and is filled with pictures, too. In this case, you want to keep your child up (not put her to sleep). What story would you tell and what visuals accompany it? Does the story grab her from the start and is there a compelling take-away message? Switch out Brand Story for Campaign Story or Crisis Response Story or Product Launch Story. You get the picture (or pictures).
- Does everyone you work with look a lot like you? Take stock of your surroundings and play a part in ensuring your workplace is diverse. Whether it’s the color of skin, gender differences, the country of origin or the date of birth, a diverse workplace makes for a stronger and more interesting organization. While the PR industry is addressing its own low numbers when it comes to diversity hiring practices, don’t assume someone else is taking care of this important issue.
Questions are easy to ask – answering them is the difficult part. If your colleagues find you staring out the window or in deep thought today, you can tell them that you’re doing research for PR News.
– Diane Schwartz