Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing communication between an organization and the public, including customers, stakeholders, and the media. PR plays an important role in building and maintaining a positive brand image, which is the overall perception that consumers have of a brand. A good brand image can help a company stand out in a crowded marketplace, attract new customers, and retain existing ones. On the other hand, a negative brand image can lead to a loss of trust, decreased sales, and damage to the company's reputation.
The importance of PR for brand image management cannot be overstated. PR professionals help companies communicate their values, mission, and purpose to the public, which in turn helps to shape how consumers perceive the brand. By building relationships with the media, developing and executing strategic communication plans, partnering with influencers, managing crises, and effectively managing social media, companies can improve their brand image and stand out in a crowded marketplace. In this blog post, we'll explore the relationship between PR and good brand image, and discuss how companies can use PR to improve their brand image.
The Role of PR in Brand Image Management
The role of PR in brand image management is multi-faceted, encompassing a range of strategies and tactics that help companies shape their public perception.
Building Relationships with the Media
Building relationships with the media is a crucial component of PR for brand image management. A positive relationship with journalists and media outlets can result in increased positive coverage for a company, which in turn can boost its reputation and brand image. To build these relationships, PR professionals may employ a number of strategies, such as personalized outreach to journalists, providing exclusive access to company events or executives, and sharing compelling and relevant story angles. For example, luxury fashion brand Chanel has maintained a positive brand image by building relationships with fashion editors and influencers, who are often seen wearing Chanel clothing and accessories. These relationships have helped Chanel to secure positive media coverage in influential fashion publications, and have helped to reinforce the brand's reputation for sophistication and elegance. Similarly, technology giant Apple has also built strong relationships with the media by controlling the release of information and creating buzz around product launches. This strategy has resulted in extensive media coverage and fan excitement around new products, and has helped to reinforce Apple's reputation for innovation and quality. By working closely with journalists and media outlets, companies like Chanel and Apple can build a positive brand image and improve their visibility among key audiences.
Developing and Executing Strategic Communication Plans
Developing and executing strategic communication plans is another key aspect of PR for brand image management. Strategic communication plans help companies to identify their target audiences, craft compelling messaging, and plan how to reach those audiences through various communication channels. A well-executed strategic communication plan can help to build a positive brand image and reinforce key brand attributes among target audiences. Elements of a successful strategic communication plan may include a clear understanding of the company's mission and values, identification of key stakeholders and their communication preferences, development of key messages and storytelling techniques, and a plan for how to distribute those messages across various channels. For example, Coca-Cola has successfully used a strategic communication plan to promote its brand as fun, youthful, and family-friendly. The company has developed clear messaging around its brand attributes and has executed that messaging across various communication channels, such as social media, TV advertising campaigns, and even sponsoring global events like the FIFA World Cup. Similarly, Dove has used strategic communication planning to promote its brand as inclusive, empowering, and focused on real beauty. The company has developed messaging and campaigns that appeal to its target audience of women, including its famous "Real Beauty" campaign, which aimed to build self confidence in women and young children. Dove executed those campaigns across various channels and built a strong brand image. By developing and executing successful strategic communication plans, companies can build a strong and positive brand image that resonates with key audiences.
Using the Right Brand Ambassadors
Using the Right Brand Ambassadors is another key tool for PR professionals in brand image management. By partnering with trusted and loved influencers or celebrities to be their brand’s ambassadors, companies can leverage their existing fan base and reach new audiences who identify with those ambassadors. The importance of using the right brand ambassador for brand image management lies in its ability to generate positive sentiment, build trust, and increase brand awareness. Consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that are endorsed by their favorite influencers or celebrities, as they view them as trustworthy sources. To create successful campaigns, brands must carefully select brand ambassadors who align with their brand values and target audiences, and work with those ambassadors to develop engaging content that resonates with their followers. For example, Pepsi has collaborated with famous footballers like Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Paul Pogba in its advertising campaigns and made them the face of their brand. These footballers are well-known and well-loved by their fans, and their endorsement of the Pepsi brand has helped to build a positive and aspirational and youthful brand image that is always with you in your favorite activities. By partnering with trusted and loved influencers or celebrities, companies can build a strong and positive brand image that resonates with key audiences.
Crisis management is another critical function of PR in brand image management. No matter how well a company is managed, it can still face unexpected situations that can potentially harm its brand image. In such cases, quick and effective crisis management is essential to limit damage to the brand and restore consumer trust. For example, Johnson & Johnson faced a major crisis in 1982 when seven people tragically died after taking Tylenol capsules that had been tampered with. In response, the company launched an unprecedented massive recall of all Tylenol products, which cost millions of dollars. The company also dedicated its PR efforts to ensure the safety of their consumers by issuing national alerts to not use Tylenol and dedicating a 1-800 hotline to respond to customer inquiries. The company's swift and transparent response helped build trust with consumers and ultimately strengthened the Tylenol brand. By being honest and taking responsibility for the crisis, Johnson & Johnson was able to demonstrate that it was committed to consumer safety, which helped rebuild the brand's reputation. Effective crisis management requires a proactive approach, clear communication, and a willingness to take responsibility for mistakes. By having a well-prepared crisis management plan that takes into consideration the PR activities as well as the company’s operations, companies can effectively manage any unforeseen events that may arise and minimize damage to their brand image.
Social Media Management
Social media management is a crucial component of PR in brand image management. Social media platforms provide a direct line of communication with customers, and companies must utilize this to build strong relationships with their followers. PR professionals need to develop a social media strategy that effectively reflects the company's values and overall brand image. This includes creating engaging content, consistently responding to customer feedback, and addressing any issues that may arise. One example of a brand that has leveraged social media to improve their brand image is Wendy's. The fast-food chain's social media account is know for its clever and humorous responses to customer feedback. This helped Wendy's in repositioning its brand as a brand that is approachable and fun, with a unique personality. By engaging with their followers in an entertaining and memorable way, Wendy's was able to strengthen its relationship with customers and generate positive PR. Social media management plays a critical role in PR, allowing companies to connect with their target audience in a personal and effective manner.
Overall, the role of PR in brand image management is to help companies shape their public perception through a range of strategies and tactics that build trust, credibility, and positive associations with their brand. PR professionals help companies communicate their values, mission, and purpose to the public, which in turn helps to shape how consumers perceive the brand. By building relationships with the media, developing and executing strategic communication plans, partnering with influencers, managing crises, and effectively managing social media, companies can improve their brand image and stand out in a crowded marketplace. Successful PR campaigns are essential for companies to build a strong and positive brand image that resonates with key audiences. By understanding the importance of PR in brand image management and utilizing the right strategies, companies can effectively manage their public perception and achieve their business goals.