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Media Training: Image, Brand and Reputation

  May 23, 2022

Your image, brand and reputation are built up over time and through plenty of hard work.  But with just one bad TV interview or off-message social media post, they can take a big hit.  If negative news about you, your organization or your company is coming fast and furious you may feel totally lost.  You are not alone.  Some high profile examples in the news:

  1. The U.S. Secret Service's reputation took yet another hit last week.  Two of its employees were sent home from South Korea even before President Biden landed in Asia. They were accused of drinking and getting into fights with locals, which would be a violation of the agency's policies.   Just last month, four Secret Service employees were fooled by men impersonating federal agents.  A security breach.  Internal investigations and perhaps criminal investigations will follow.  But how does the agency build back trust?  It's not an easy fix.  The Secret Service can't be an open book but it needs to be as transparent as is feasible to repair its reputation.  They have important work to do and these stories distract from their mission.

  2. The Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial is all about reputation.  He appears to winning the case on social media.  Maybe he has a better PR firm.  She fired  her Crisis Communications team during the trial and hired another.  Still she continues to be the brunt of jokes and ridicule on-line.  There's nothing funny about alleged spousal abuse or accusations of  making false allegations.  Of course the case will be decided in court.  It will be interesting to see how they handle PR after the verdict.  Options: a serious sit-down interview with a big name journalist; a news conference outside of court;  a new social media campaign; or taking a breath instead of doing a victory lap. Given the lurid details coming out of this trial, I think a cooling down period could be the best option.  

  3. Not all our stories are negative!  A UK pub owner took on Goliah, a.k.a. Vogue magazine and won.  The publisher accused the pub, the Star Inn at Vogue, of copyright infringment.  The wise pub landlord responded by giving the  publisher a history lesson.  Turns out the village of Vogue predates the magazine.  After receiving the the landlord's letter, Condé Naste acknowledged its mistake.  Reporters are lapping up the story, in the U.S. and across the pond.  And you can't buy that kind of attention.  

  4. A good news story fell in to Frontier Airlines lap recently.  One of its flight attendants helped deliver a baby onboard when a woman went into early labor.  Thankfully it was a healthy delivery.  The parents chose "Sky" as the baby's middle name.  With all the negative news airlines deal with, Frontier should make the most of this.  Network news picked up the story and it was big on social media as well.

Successful business people don't just wait around and hope for positive media coverage. They may general good will and good press by  getting involved in community causes or charity events.  They champion employees who do their part to help their community.  They aren't shy about letting traditional media know about business breakthroughs or new services.  They produce fresh content for potential clients/customers to consume on social media.  They are creating positive news. 

If you are cleaning up after negative media coverage, whether of your own making or something out of your control, activate your Crisis Communications plan.  Even small businesses should have one. Why?

  • You don't want to waste time covering the basics when a crisis hits.
  • You need to be working on your first public response.
  • Whoever is cleared to speak for the company needs to already be media-trained.
  • If you plan to hold a news conference, have more than one venue earmarked. You don't know if your primary location will be viable when a crisis hits.
  • Your executive teams needs to know your social media guidelines.  Learning on the fly is not a good idea.

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