PR & Brand Building

Having broached PR in my last post, I wanted to take up a related theme, with a brand perspective.

Many of us would have witnessed press briefings either as part of the company, media or at least on TV. If yes, then it is possible that you would have seen a backdrop which is just a grid of the brand name. That is just one small part of the larger brand building exercise that PR as an activity contributes to.

Every moment of truth is a brand moment of truth. We are touched by some brand or the other every moment of our lives. Even while we are asleep! And every moment at least one consumer is making up his mind for or against a brand. PR as a function creates many such moments and care should be exercised in managing perception about the brand during the event.

PR – part of the name suggests the importance that the function carries. Relationships! Today the function of PR is not to just handle journalists, but to create and maintain the image of the product / offering / person (celebrities) or simply put BRAND, with multiple stakeholders.

To build and maintain the image / relationship PR uses varied tools like press briefings, releases, pre-produced articles, events, meetings, interviews and many more.

One of the key activities taken up by PR consultancies in tandem with the advertising consultancy is the key message workshop. The brand stands for certain values and those values have to be brought out as words and articulated as sentences to ensure that every spokesperson gives out the same kind of message while interacting with external entities including journalists.

Typically carried out as a workshop over at least a day with the participants being the spokespeople and senior leadership of an organization, the messaging workshop can prove to be an important tool in projecting a particular image about the brand. These workshops are conducted by experienced professionals who are trained to conduct such events. The outcome of this workshop is a set of answers for some key questions with respect to the brand and also aligning the thinking of all the spokespeople (including senior leadership) with respect to what the brand stands for. This will be a document which would help in decide the course of the brand for the future.

Since every moment of truth is important, most organizations train their spokespeople on handling media. Media training helps the spokesperson in gauging and measuring the responses before actually sharing the same. Because a printed word would carries a lot of significance for every growing brand.

An important tool that can be employed in brand building is to exhibit thought leadership. By regularly being published on macro (or micro) topics and getting noticed as a voice to turn to for any conversation helps in building a favourable brand. However, it is important to be a good thinker to embark on this ship, because not talking intelligent may just backfire. Suhel Seth is considered a thought leader (whether you agree with him or not) and he has built himself as a brand over a long period by being seen and making himself available for such events / seminars and programmes. By being a thought leader, a favourable brand is built which helps in gaining foot in the door for the organization.

Another out of the ordinary example for being a leader among person brands is John Abraham. Today, he is not just a celebrity by virtue of being a film star, but he also consults on marketing campaigns and product development for Yamaha – a brand he endorses. It is surprising that organizations are open to deals like this, however it is important to consider that John is a ‘biker’ and was an advertising professional thus carries certain skills which are unique for him as a film star. Also, it made good sense to go out with it to media thereby building a good brand image for both the John and Yamaha.

One can engage PR as a key tool in building a brand with the media who we can consider as a key stakeholder in influencing the consumer. Thus by engaging media positively and building a long term relationship with the publications and the journalists, it is possible to derive favorable positioning.

There are occasions when the positioning statement taken by a brand with the consumer being different from the positioning statement taken by a brand with the media. I will try to explain this using a case in tomorrow’s post.

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