1. The biggest reputational risk now is connection to russia
Russia is toxic now.In Ukraine we have not only an army and military front, but also communications, PR, economic and other fronts fighting for the same goals. Part of them are engaged in pressuring companies to leave the Russian market. It is important to understand that it's not a one-man organized group rather a shared vision unity of multiple communities willing to spend time, money and efforts to extend the pressure and to tell the truth they see with their own eyes.
Second risk is to stay silent in this situation. During the last few years we’ve all seen a number of reputation researches showing the importance of a clear company’s voice on major political and social issues. They showed a growing demand from the audience to see and hear clear statements from CEOs and managers instead of meaningless corporate releases with no strong voice. And still we see how a lot of companies try to sit tight and wait for the better times. It will not work.Yes, it’s frightening to speak loudly on what you really think and to accept failures but it benefits strategically.
3. Investment risk
The war in Ukraine changes the existing business ecosystem in Europe dramatically. It might sound strange, though Ukraine has already implemented its worst-case scenario, while other countries especially in the Eastern and Central Europe have not. It means we will see the changes in money and investment flows and higher investment risks for those countries.It is important because any changes mean uncertainty, and uncertainty means risks and acceleration of the decision making process that inevitably leads to more failures and sudden success. And most importantly it means communications again are on the front line of this explaining what’s going on. There is nothing new in this, we know how to do this — be prepared, act fast, prove results and finally earn a place at a decision making table. The main challenge remains the same — to fight for customers attention and time not money with relevant narratives. It becomes harder now as the main narrative nowadays is the war. And a PR specialist has to become even more accurate and fierce to get through it with business needs and keeping the reputational foundations. To be so PR needs a clear understanding of the business goals and strategy. It seems obvious but still we often observe the lack of it. So, here is the general rule — business goals are always about the money. It can be sales growth, market share growth, new markets, etc. Communication goals always support business goals.
To succeed with goals we need a clear understanding of the action plan and number of metrics on the way. There are 2 main types of metrics: of success and of progress. For communications the success metrics could be awareness and trust rates. They are measured by sociological surveys each 3/6/12 months. The problem with it is that surveys can be expensive and the results will not show significant difference if measured each week. Still we need to understand the success of our action plan on the go.And for this we can use so-called progress metrics. They can be from mainstream and social media coverage, that reflects the growth or decline of awareness rates.The simplest and most widespread metrics that reflect awareness are: volume of coverage (number of mentions, reach, engagement) and share of voice (general, compared to benchmark, competition, among existing narratives, etc.). Metrics for trust rates are positive engagement in social media, number of positive mentions in media, share of positive/detailed feedback and reviews, metrics of owned media. The main idea behind it is that as the main challenge is the fight for customers’ time and attention, volume and quality of mainstream and social media coverage shows how much of this time and attention we as a business actually have and can get.
If we switch to performance goals, it is important to understand that neither PR nor marketing can be responsible for sales itself. PR can inform and generate leads, but someone should sell the product, ensure its availability and price. In Sales terms PR can be responsible for the following parts of sales channels: organic, direct, backlinks, SEO, partially content and email-marketing, leafs nurturing, resells and upsells. But in order to make it happen and to be able to manage this a business needs to have a CRM, established Sales Funnel and processes and other attribution channels not only PR. Still for corporate communications mostly the goal is building the company’s reputation. Reputation itself can’t be a KPI or a metric as it is a highly complex concept that needs to be sliced into specific measurable objectives implemented successfully. In general, reputation can be measured as a trust rate. It evolves when I as a customer see the promises made by a company are delivered during my customer journey. Ideally, if they are delivered in a much better way than expected. The concept of customer journey was rebuilt by McKinsey more than 10 years ago when they presented the new approach [picture]. It states that this journey has two circles and the second one starts at the moment of purchase, though before it was the end point.
Picture source: McKinsey
After we make a purchase we often start to google how to use the product, we contact support and leave reviews and either will recommend it to others or buy again or not. This is a hugely underestimated area of communications for PR specialists and a place to improve trust rates.Now in Ukraine we see how important is the reputation of companies, people and governmental organizations. When the regular sales promotion almost stopped the only thing we operate on now is reputation built during years before.
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