Wednesday, June 6, 2018

4 Ways To Build #Trust With Your Customers [Abbott Media Group]

People will do business with those that they trust. Public Relations can help to build that trust.

There are several ways a business can begin to build trust with their customers and future (potential) customers. Among them are Consistency, Courtesy, Care, and Community Involvement.

Being Consistent is critically important to a business' future success. There's a reason why restaurants, pet stores, hotels, and hardware chains, among others, are so popular. Ideally, they offer consistent service and products offered professionally in multiple locations. Customers know they can get the same products and services offered for about the same price, wherever they go. For some, that may seem "boring," but customers actually yearn for boring over the alternative: inconsistent service and the inability to get their favorite products. Public Relations professionals can guide a business to accept and disseminate internal policies and standard graphics and messaging that will help create a consistent experience for customers.

Courtesy is also an important factor in building Trust. If service is offered in a cold manner, or worse, in a rude manner, the bond of Trust between a customer and a business is broken. This is even the case in a long-term relationship. There's no such thing anymore as a small incident of discourteous conduct. Even one incident in which a customer is treated poorly can ruin a company's reputation in this era of instant online reviews. A Public Relations professional can help isolate and identify areas in which internal standards aren't being met, and can, once those are addressed, help repair and rebuild Trust with customers who experienced a lack of courtesy during a business transaction.

Care is shown in a multitude of ways by a business, and customers recognize when it's not there, contributing to a lack of Trust. Products or services offered in a sloppy, slapdash way can instantly signal to the customer that the business doesn't really care about them. Caring isn't a small thing, it's a major thing, and in fact, should be the top concern of any business. If you're not in business to care for the customer, why are you in business at all? Care can be demonstrated by proper training and internal messaging that makes it clear that business owners have high expectations of their employees. PR can deliver those messages in a compelling and clear way that leaves no doubt that Care is required from everyone.

Finally, Community Involvement can be a tremendous trust-building tool. While some effort should be made not to alienate a customer base with involvement with overtly political or controversial causes, showing concern for one's community is more than a gimmick to grab headlines. Instead, it shows that a business is intimately tied to the community in which they do business, and that they care about their customers' well-being, more than just as a source of cash. Public Relations professionals can help identify community activities that reflect well on a business and help show that concern that leads to stronger feelings of trust with their current and future customers.

For more information about building Trust, visit Abbott Media Group at

Monday, May 7, 2018

Boycott Of Cafe That Posted "Anti-Gun" Message Becomes Lesson In Political Rhetoric [Abbott Media Group]

Ellen's Cafe in Dallas, Texas is finding out that words have meaning - and that not using the right words, especially in political discussions, can have severe consequences.

If their recent post is accurate, they profoundly blundered when they posted a message on the bottom of their customer receipts that they wanted to advocate for, "reasonable and effective gun regulations."

Their blunder wasn't posting such a message (they have that right, as all Americans do) But because they didn't understand that there's a certain way one speaks in politics and people want to hear "key words" when discussing "hot button" issues - be it gun rights, abortion, among others. And they apparently didn't know this before wading in.

The language they used, for instance, "reasonable and effective" are viewed as 'code words' by those on the political Right and specifically by NRA members as language the Left employs to advocate for strong new laws against gun ownership.

And that's just what happened in this instance. The message was interpreted as a political call to arms to the cafe's liberal customers.

The NRA's twitter account itself posted a photo of the receipt (at left) urging members to avoid the restaurant, which was located near this year's NRA convention site.

The receipt language went viral, of course, and calls for boycotts of the cafe spread across the internet.

The problem was, the cafe owners say they SUPPORT gun rights and the Second Amendment.

They said, in a May 4 Facebook post, their wording mistake was an honest one.

"The opposite is true. We support the Constitution, including the 2nd Amendment, 100%. And like the NRA, we also support finding solutions to the senseless killings that happen much too frequently. We believe those two things are completely compatible."

The cafe, by all accounts, meant well. The cafe held a sympathetic "round table" interview with Dallas Police officers last October about the July, 2016 shooting that killed two Dallas officers. They don't appear to be "anti-gun" any more than they are "anti-cop."

The media, of course, is focusing now on the detestable death threats and anger the errant language provoked, and there really is no excuse for that behavior.

The best lesson that can be learned from this is to use language - in politics, especially - with political sensitivities in mind. Understanding what your audience wants to hear is key to getting your message out to them - whether you're a politician, an interest group, or a cafe owner.

Stephen Abbott is principal of Abbott Media Group, a reputation agency.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

"Stand By You" Budweiser 2018 #SuperBowlAd is a #PR Winner [Abbott Media Group]

Budweiser took the early lead in the "Public Relations Super Bowl" with its ad, "Stand by You," which aired early in the Third Quarter Sunday night.

The ad tells the story, in a simplified manner, of their efforts to provide cans of water to areas in need during natural disasters in Puerto Rico, California, Florida, Houston, and elsewhere.

I say "simplified," because the beer producing company clearly doesn't switch over to making water by pushing a single button in the brewing facility. But switch over they do, and the good they do is undeniable.

The ad is emotional and effective, clearly portraying the company and its dedicated employees in a positive light. And it's bound to be discussed in post-game discussions throughout the country's living rooms, as well as in the media early in the week. Those in areas of the nation they've served during natural disasters will definitely be talking about this.

This is a clear PR Win for the company, with great exposure during this high profile game.

Nicely done, Budweiser. You win the Super Bowl #PR Ad War!

Let #AbbottMediaGroup throw a PR and Reputation "Touchdown" for your company, campaign or organization.

Monday, January 29, 2018

5 Characteristics of #Reputation [Abbott Media Group]

Like any tool, a reputation constantly needs sharpening to be effective. But it can be double-edged instrument that can cut you and severely damage you, if you're not careful, or mishandle it.

Reputation can be a hard concept to wrap one’s head around. So, bolstered by wise words of wisdom, here are five characteristics of reputation of which businesses and individuals need to be cognizant when seeking to change or improve their reputations.

1. A Reputation can’t be built on false promises - "The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear," said the Greek philosopher Socrates. Your advertising materials won't fool anyone if your promises aren't being kept. If our luggage is lost, we will not believe the ad calling the airline "competent." In the same way, your company’s reality-on-the-ground must match the rhetoric your Reputation Agency is putting out about you, in order for your believability to remain intact.

2. Reputation must reflect what you’re doing NOW - Automobile manufacturer Henry Ford said, ‘You can’t build a reputation on what you're going to do.” It’s all well and good that you PLAN to do something great. But if you’re not doing it yet, or (worse) if you don’t follow through, it will hurt you more than if you hadn't promised to do it at all. In short, your reputation is a result of what you've done in the past.

3. A reputation pays off in the long run - “A reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing, for truth, and for rectitude is itself a fortune,” said social reformer Henry Ward Beecher. There’s not really a way to weigh the value of a good reputation, or that of a good one that’s been lost. Your customers, if they’re happy, reach out to dozens of people about your products and services, but also about your attitude and helpfulness, and that of your employees. A reputation pays off in many innumerable ways, most of which you will never know.

4. A reputation can’t be a con job - Author and artist Elbert Hubbard wrote, “Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.” A reputation must be true and reflective of the subject it purports to represent. No one can "create" a glowing reputation for someone who's character is genuinely bad. Again, today’s consumers simply are too smart for such a cynical exercise in deception, and frankly, AMG (along with every other ethical PR professional) will not participate in such a deception. As in other examples here, the perception must match the reality. A con job will simply further tarnish a damaged reputation, and it’s simply not worth it. Issues involving the character and practices of your company must be addressed BEFORE “re-launching” yourself and your name to the public.

5. Your reputation can be ruined by others - George Washington said, "Associate with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." If you’re associated in the mind of the public with a rouge company or an unscrupulous person - even if it’s not YOUR company or employee - your reputation could be hurt by it in the eyes of the public. That may not be fair, but it’s reality. People sometimes don’t distinguish between you and a bad act committed by someone close to you. As Washington said, in that case, it’s better to be seen alone and apart from them, and AMG can help you distance yourself from trouble with a clear reputation management plan.

Contact Abbott Media Group if we can help create compelling messages that build your reputation!

By Stephen Abbott, Principal Abbott Media Group, which creates inspiring, engaging messages that build reputations. On twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

How Your Good #Reputation "Adds Up" To Business Success #AbbottMediaGroup

By Stephen Abbott, principal of Abbott Media Group

Public Relations remains a mysterious and nebulous concept for many, though it's actually not a mystery at all. It's an art and a science, applied to business and personal situations to address and solve problems that, if they're left to fester, can have a deleterious effect on one's reputation. That, in turn, can lead to reduced respect, reduced influence in one’s profession and, perhaps most crucially, reduced sales of one's products and/or services.

I've used the acronym "Add Up" to illustrate the process AMG uses on clients' behalf.

Analyze the situation. Jumping in without even rudimentary analysis of the situation is like jumping into a lake one has never seen before – foolish, and possibly dangerous. A situation analysis in PR usually includes discussions with all of the relevant publics involved. A "public" can be management, owners, employees, customers and other stakeholders involved in some way with an organization, company or community. This helps the PR professional learn all the facts on the ground that could be leading to problems that may be contributing to a decline in reputation.

Determine problems. Being able to name a problem is a first step towards solving it. This is true in one's personal life and of course it's true in business as well. Once the situation is fully analyzed, PR professionals can then research the problems as they truly exist and begin to understand what PR tools and tactics will need to be addressed, which is the next step ...

Diagnose the situation. Doctors use their analysis of a patient's health to determine a diagnosis. In the same way, PR professionals can use the analysis and problems that arose in the early stages of the process to come up with a diagnosis, allowing them to move forward to the next stages.

Understand publics. Without an understanding of the publics who will be affected by the messages to be used to address problems and issues, we can't be as effective as we otherwise would. Some PR practitioners don't get this, and end up "shouting from the rooftops" to get their message out, thus possibly squandering all the previous effort in researching and diagnosing problems. Instead, a clear, targeted message is planned and prepared to go out to clearly identified targets. This is absolutely essential for the success of any PR campaign.

Present the campaign to the relevant publics. All of the research, analysis and planning leads up to a campaign that is presented to predetermined target groups, i.e., those who will most benefit from and be positively influenced by messages that will enhance the client’s reputation and standing in the community, their ability to continue to grow or expand, or other goals that can be measured over time.

This final "implementation phase" utilizes tools and tactics of the PR professional that best meet the needs of the campaign at hand. This expertise, along with the ability to comprehend and work through the previous steps, is why it's best to hire a PR professional to enhance, change and manage your reputation.

Public Relations, and the enhancement of reputation it can bring, "Adds Up" to the continued success of your business, organization or personal fulfillment. 

In sum, the accomplishment of your business goals is in a very real way connected to maintaining good relations with those whom your business interacts with daily, as well as creating inroads with those who will become clients and customers in the future.

Contact Abbott Media Group to learn more about how your reputation can benefit from Public Relations in 2018.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

No, "Any Publicity" Isn't Always "Good Publicity" [Abbott Media Group]

It was an infamous and widely circulated interview. Speaking in January, 2007, Paula Abdul, speaking live to a FOX affiliate about her hit show American Idol, appeared drunk.

She responded to the co-anchor's comment about some bad publicity by saying, "Any publicity is good publicity. You gotta learn to eat it up and embrace it."

She actually wasn't talking about herself. However...

The show was quickly posted on YouTube and within hours, millions of people around the nation and the world have seen her slurring words, swaying and gesturing wildly, and making odd faces.

Later that night, Paula Abdul canceled all her upcoming appearances, as friends and her spokesperson/publicist made excuses for her behavior.

It doesn't help that the story they told (below) contradicts Abdul's publicist's contention that she doesn't take medication.
Abdul Cancels AppearancesSinger-turned-"American Idol" judge Paula Abdul called off all her interviews Friday after clips of an earlier TV appearance appeared to show her drunk. 
The video - in which Abdul slurs and bizarrely gesticulates - emerged on YouTube on Thursday, prompting speculation alcohol or medication were to blame. 
She subsequently abandoned media engagements scheduled for Friday. 
However, Abdul's spokesman Jeff Ballard insists tiredness and a minor throat infection, not inebriation, were the causes of the cancellations and earlier odd behavior. 
He says, "She was exhausted. This was at the end of three days of press (interviews and appearances), and she has had cameras following her around for a reality TV show too.
"She was sitting in a room with just a camera and a mic on, and the controllers dropped the sound twice, which is why she rolled her eyes. 
"She never drinks. I have known Paula Abdul since she was 13, and I have never seen her drink ever in my life. And no, she is not on any kind of medication. She was a little tired."
In fact, in 2005 Abdul had revealed that she suffers from a neurological disorder that causes chronic pain and requires a weekly injection of an anti-inflammatory drug. It's best for PR people not to lie.

What can be learned from this? Getting "any publicity" isn't necessarily good publicity. Sometimes, far from it!

Careers can be lost or severely damaged instantly with bad behavior or bizarre statements - Sen. George Allen ("Makaka"), Mel Gibson (THAT word), Michael Richards (the same word), even Howard Dean ("Yeeeehah!")

If you've said something stupid. Call me. Or better yet - call BEFORE you say something stupid.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

4 Ways To "Fix" Our Broken Network Newscasts [Abbott Media Group]

Network news - news programs shown on the original Big Three networks and other, newer, upstarts - is broken. Below are four examples, and what I believe they need to do to fix their news programs to better serve the American people:

More International Focus - A "world news" program that focuses solely on domestic news is not worthy of the name. And international celebrities getting into trouble or the latest plane crash overseas doesn't count as "news." Americans who are insular and insulated from the news of the world are suddenly surprised by trends both friendly and ferocious when they hit without warning. When that happens, that's a failure of the "world news" programs we watch. Network newscasts must rededicate themselves to covering the entire world.

More International Politics - Political trends are also vital to our full and complete awareness as voters and as citizens. It may not, at first glance, seem important that a new anti-American party is rising in the polls in a nation traditionally friendly to the USA, or that a certain governor was elected in a prefecture in Japan. But if that nation  turns hostile, or if that governor is more hostile to Americans remaining in a military base there than his predecessor, then that indeed is a problem that will have regional and international repercussions. Network newscasts should commit to covering international politics, because it's relevant.

The Weather Is NOT "news" - It's snowy in the winter in the Northern half of the United States. It's a fact. It's not, however, news. It's exciting to show cars skidding off the road, rivers frozen and, in other climes, wet summers, minor hurricanes and tornadoes. But aside from an in-depth analyses of how slowly the aid got there after the storm, or how we are adapting to changing weather patterns, it's not "news." Network newscasts should stop wasting time covering routine and expected weather, and blowing storms out of all proportion.

Fewer YouTube Videos - What's truly shocking about today's American nightly "newscast" is the inclusion of actual YouTube videos. ABC News includes these (and the aforementioned "kids play on teams" videos) in its "Index" segment near the end of the program. It literally shows YouTube videos of animals doing funny things, near-miss car accidents and other hilarity, which we can see with better justification on shows like "America's Funniest Videos" or its cable show equivalents. The YouTubization (tm) of Network news must end. 

"If it bleeds, it leads" was the old saying about the nightly news and the local paper. National Network newscasts shouldn't fear though. There is plenty of blood in the political turmoil around the world to quench their viewers' hearts. Demonstrations, corruption, trade deals, hard-fought elections, coups and uprisings, and much of it with consequences for American voters and consumers.

That's one of the reasons why I founded "World Politics News," a news aggregation service that points American readers to the news they're missing on the nightly network newscasts.

American news organizations owe it to us to bring us the world, and to show us accurately and fairly what's happening THERE before it happens HERE. And if they begin to do this again, the nightly "World News" programs will once again be true to their names.

Stephen Abbott
Abbott Media Group