Dear Colleagues:

When shaping your organization's reputation, nothing beats high quality products and services, sound business policies and practices. It takes an entire company to build a credible brand. That includes operations and customer service, along with the marketing to create a reputation as trusting, reliable, responsible and relevant.

Building a foundation of credibility is essential for long-term staying power, weathering unexpected rough patches, differentiating from competitors, encouraging customer other words, ensuring your brand and organization are able to compete.

As you read on, we will discuss several public relations tools that play an important role toward building a reputation of credibility.

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Tell (Success) Stories!

Third party endorsements direct or implied are very valuable. It's not enough to base growth on strong customer relationships. With today's propensity for sharing business information, one of the best ways to "prove" value is with open customer testimonials.

Some companies leverage testimonials of satisfied customers in their marketing materials and advertising as proof of their value propositions, as with Chevy's Real People campaign. While others attract media interest by using actual customer experiences with their products to garner attention like Facebook did when it used emotionally charged videos by Facebook users in its campaign introducing
Facebook Live. Still other companies tap into brand ambassadors to sway audiences, such as Hallmark's campaign which partnered with a number of family-friendly Instagram influencers to share personal moments with the hashtag #Keepsakeit. These testimonials demonstrate value and move brand promises from the realm of imagination to reality.

Case studies are also a powerful tool for telling the story of how you approached a customer's goals, opportunity or problem, the strategic solution you deployed, and the results. Publish it on your website, create one or more slides for your presentation deck, even find opportunities to jointly present a success story with a customer at a conference or in an interview with the news media.

People respond favorably to campaigns that share real-world testimonials like those in Sensodyne's ad that features real dentists stating that they only recommend Sensodyne to their patients or seeing Allure's Best of Beauty seal on a product.

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Real CSR

Lots of research, not to mention experience, indicates that corporate involvement in social causes is a significant credibility driver. It affects customer attraction, repeat purchases, engagement, word of mouth and investor relationships.

Companies are seeing a correlation between citizenship, responsibility and consumer interest. Those customer value propositions tie to the public good, sound business practices, impact on the environment, public health, etc. In the book
Grow, Jim Stengel proves how the brands that define and live out their essential reason for being -- beyond profits and market share -- are the ones experiencing the greatest financial success.

Choosing the right causes matters. It's usually not enough to recycle, reduce salt content or provide family-friendly employee policies. Customers want to see a deep commitment to support your value proposition. Today, they can choose between those making claims with incremental action and those whose brand essence oozes with their relationship to a cause with appropriate practices, policies and marketing platforms.

Check out these articles for great ideas, examples and research to support CSR as key to the credibility toolkit.

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News Coverage Still Matters

While referrals and endorsements are valuable to build reputations virally, something old is still in-style. Earned media from news media brands distributed via online, print, broadcast and digital channels - especially those known for solid reporting and investigative practices -- continue to be important. Reaching out to the many equally reputable, emerging smaller news outlets is a way to reach devoted followers; just be sure to select media outlets that are most relevant to your target audience(s).

As media organizations adapt, many utilize content sources and freelancers to provide editorial coverage. With millions of websites and blogs, the news media is increasingly fragmented and expanded. This means that sources, especially established, reputable news organizations and publications -- both formal and less so -- with respected voices generate visibility and bring 3rd party credibility that contributes to any brand's reputation.

It can be challenging to develop a compelling story to entice reporters and bloggers to write about your company, products or services. So, creativity is needed to develop the newsworthy content that presents our products or their attributes in the context of information about trends, product uses, or marketplace needs.

Customers appreciate the validation that media coverage brings. They derive knowledge, confidence and trust based on interviews, mentions in articles about trends and solutions with which a brand is associated.
Don't Forget Surveys

Our Marketing Coach: Smart Surveys Build Reputations provides an in-depth discussion about the important role that surveys can play to establish a business or executive's thought leadership and build credibility.

A good survey strategically gathers information that is meaningful to customers and demonstrates both your company's expertise in a relevant subject and/or its competence at satisfying customer needs. Further, it can be used as public relations tool for garnering press that might be interested in presenting your findings as a standalone data point or to support another story on a topic related to your survey.

Today, a company can affiliate with a respected research firm or even field its own survey, so long as the methodology meets the litmus test for objectivity and statistical validity.
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Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications. To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact, call 212-399-0026 or visit
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