Some organisations find that they always draw criticism, simply because of the space they are operating in.
It raises the question of whether it is even worth doing PR as was discussed here.
But if you have carried out the assessment and decided that it is time to start talking and turning around that negative perception, what sort of techniques can you use?
Accept it’s going to take time
It’s important to realise that if the narrative is against you it’s going to take time to turn it around.
There is also a real possibility that you won’t turn around everyone, let alone 50% of people or even 10% of people.
However, if converting just a few is enough to start making some headway then it may still be worth it.
If you have to explain this to the CEO, management or even to yourself if you are boss, it’s important everyone realises things won’t change overnight. It may take years.
The “public” is no longer one body of people. There is no longer one source of news or conversation. The public is more divided and more segmented than ever with its own news sources and conversational bubbles.
So, start with the subset of society who are on your side or nearest to it. For example, if you are a government tax department, most people will see you as a body that simply takes their hard-earned cash off them. But some will see the benefits of that cash.
Who are they? Start making content targeted at them. Make that content easy to like and support and start getting the ‘like’ count up. Ask how they benefitted from it. Start a conversation with the easiest leads.
Who are the influencers?
Then identify who among this group has some degree of influence. What outreach could you do? What stunts? What experiences could you take them on? As a journalist, we used to go out on police raids and do exciting things with different organisations. Why not get your warm leads to be your “media”?
Of course, you want to research their history carefully but there are other ways of ensuring you get a balanced approach too.
The entertainment industry has been doing this for years. They give showbiz reporters access to parties and celebrities, and then when they say something bad about a film they cut off that access.
Look at all the travel vloggers these days. Providing they give a fair review they continue to get access but if they go too far they get cut.
You’ll have to decide your limit because if you take it too far you’ll reduce the authenticity and may even create a backlash.
Can you get your spokespeople (even you) onto intelligent media?
I’m talking about podcasts in your space but with very well-prepared spokespeople who are ready and trained to deal with the questions that will inevitably come up.
I have done a fair bit of media training over the years and most of the time you can guess the questions.
Once you have your evangelists then start demonstrating how the narrative is wrong. Try to get your evangelists to say it or share their stories which you then share in your feeds.
Getting on the other side of the narrative
And then look out for opportunities to be on the side of the critics.
This was seen a lot during the Elon Musk takeover of Twitter. Companies and organisations started saying “come to us” instead.
Even an organisation under attack can win support by being on the right side of the current trending narrative.
If it takes time, it’s going to be hard to justify, so share positive examples with management to show how this is starting to bare fruit, comment by comment.
Do a survey with carefully selected people about their perception now and then later and ask their reasons why, so you can assess the results
But mostly be clear, this is a campaign for the long term.
Image credit: Photo by Moose Photos