Social Media Can Protect Reputations


There are two reasons for a company or brand to make use of social media.  The first, and most obvious, is to increase interest in their services and products and to build brand recognition and loyalty.  But there is a more important role that social media can take, that of reputation protection.

In the digital age, with so many people connected using mobile devices, the reputation of a brand becomes even more fragile. There is less and less down time — time when consumers and media are out of touch with each other, with the brand, with any person who chooses to complain. It now takes truly moments to destroy a good reputation that may have taken years, or decades, to build.

In the “good ole days” before the internet, companies had the ability to control all messages about their brand.  Today, anyone with a device can share a bad review, post a damaging photo or share a detrimental video that can bring down a reputation in a matter of hours or even minutes.  It’s happened time and time again to brands as big as Dell, Netflix, and United Airlines.

Social media, if used consistently and strategically, can be a key line of defense in the protection and restoration of a damaged reputation.

All brands should take steps before any problem arises.  With any luck, no crisis will occur, but it is always best to be prepared.  This can be accomplished in two simple steps.

  1. establish and maintain appropriate social media channels that provide open communication with customers and the public at large
    2.    create a crisis management plan with clearly defined actions and division of labor and keep it up-to-date as social media channels expand and change

Each industry and, in fact, each company is going to choose different social media channels based on where their customers and potential customers hang out.  Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram, Google+, and dozens of other social media outlets exist, each with slightly different content, audience, and format.  Companies need to choose which are appropriate for their needs and make consistent use of them. They need to build a crisis plan around those channels and regularly review both the channels used and the plan itself. Remember, Pintrest didn’t exist three years ago and MySpace was once the ruler of social media.

In the event that a reputation crisis does happen, the key is to offer a speedy response. This is where having an established social presence and a clear plan of attack is crucial.  Institute the plan, taking into account the nature of the specific crisis.

Here are the main steps involved in addressing a reputation problem using social media:

  1. Acknowledge there is a problem
    2. Take responsibility for errors/failures
    3. Offer a sincere response rather than lip-service
    4. Make amends, including backtracking on position, if appropriate

By following these guidelines and maintaining open, honest communication with customers, most brands will find that they can minimize the damage caused to their reputation and regain the trust and loyalty of their customers. Maybe not overnight, but sooner rather than later.

Because professional reputations aren’t the only ones at risk, here are a few tips for individuals who want to protect their personal reputation:

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Caren Peterson is a web journalist who contributes blog posts on a wide variety of topics including public relations and brand management for celebrities, athletes and other public figures. During her 12 year career she has profiled racing champions, movie stars and politicians.


Sports Teams Need PR Experts


New media means that there are more and more outlets for fans, critics, and newsmakers to get information about sports teams and individual players.  While it may no longer be possible to control the media in the same way, it is still crucial that sports organizations have experienced public relations professionals helping them navigate the media stream.

Best Foot Forward

New media brings new competition to sports.  Small towns that used to have the local high school football team as the only entertainment option on Friday night are now competing with cable sports packages, pay-per-view events, and even live streaming of sports from all around the world.  To get bodies in the seats (and keep ticket and concession sales up), every team needs positive stories in the media about their performance, star players, and championship hopes.

The core of PR has always been the well-written press release and the well-placed article or interview.  A good PR team is going to keep their client’s team in the news in a manner that builds fan excitement and support. They may also work with marketing and advertising to design special events to increase fan participation.

When professional teams are looking for local government support or to take on new financial backers, a good PR campaign can be crucial.  How the team “plays” in the media can be even more important than their win-loss record when it comes to attracting investors or convincing a city council to give them a tax break.

Handling the Negative

Managing the reputation of the team and its individual players can be a more than full time job in an era when any bystander with a smartphone is a “reporter.”  Viral videos of drunken escapades or off-color remarks can be just as devastating to a team’s reputation as a bad interview on a network sports show.

PR experts in the 21st century are well-versed in the pitfalls of social media and know how to catch stories before they go viral.  While they may not be able to stop the spread of information through the myriad internet formats out there, they will know how to contain, respond, and get ahead of the story.  Most importantly, they will be able to advise players and teams on the best way to handle a negative story in order to keep it from getting worse.

A good sports PR team is going to have individual experts with ties to local media, experience in writing effective press releases and articles, and the ability to handle relations with fans, players, media, investors, and the community.


H&R Block Answers Turbo Tax


As the 2013 tax season began, tax preparation companies H&R Block and TurboTax take their heated feud over social media. TurboTax, made by Intuit, offers desktop and online software while H&R Block has tax offices in addition to online software programs.

The feud started when TurboTax launched a series of commercials meant to criticize tax return storefront services like those offered by H&R Block. The ads showed customers shocked to find out that their storefront tax preparers were just part-timers and worked as a store attendant and a plumber. The ads implied that it’s possible the person you’ll be dealing with when you use H&R Block’s services is not a real tax expert.

In an effort to stop the ads, H&R Block filed a lawsuit but it was rejected by a federal district court judge.

H&R Block’s CEO said Intuit was demeaning hardworking blue-collar citizens who are holding down different jobs. The company answered back with its own commercials where employees share their extensive experience in finance. They also took the feud to twitter with a social media campaign called #IAMHRBLOCK which featured employees holding up signs to describe other tax-related work they’ve been involved in.

How will this battle turn out for the two rivals? Certainly, there is a lot of business involved. The tax preparation business generated annual revenue of more than $7 billion last year. Inuit with its Turbo Tax software is one of the major competitors in this industry with 50 million users in 2010. Last year, the company earned more than $3 billion and remains a serious competitor to the likes of H&R Block and other professional tax preparers.

On the other hand, despite the availability of sophisticated tax software, the process of filing income tax returns remains complicated. There will always be people who would rather speak face to face with a tax preparer. For those watching the battle closely, the choice between H&R Block and TurboTax is actually an easy one since both systems are great products and easy to use.

Their software products are similar in almost all areas and the pricing is practically the same. While H&R Block have offices where someone can personally help with tax preparation, not everyone needs this. So, it all depends on your personal needs and preferences. Do take the time to make your own personal comparison of all their features so you can choose which one will suit you better.

Lionel Reese is an accountant and blogger who is an expert in tax accounting and insurance fraud.? He regularly contributes to finance and accounting blogs.


Customer Management is the Key to Reputation


You’ve heard the phrases and sayings; “the customer is always right,” and “good customer service is key.” Some sales jobs make that their mantra, almost saying it robotically as if to remind themselves every single day that it is true and must be followed. And they are right, of course, but it’s not quite that simple.

Great customer service is built up to do two major things, above all else: (1) provide your current customers with wonderful service and feedback on products they have already purchase, and (2) allow a venue for potential future customers to see your reputation, see how you handle and manage customers, and be impressed enough to be convinced to buy your products because of your service. It comes down to trust.

For this second option, it is critical that companies handle customer service complaints as though each specific one were the most important issue of the day, because, in a way, it is the most important problem faced today. Scorned customers have more ways than ever to go online or to the friend circles on social networks or in real life, and complain about your business and bad-mouth your products.

With the advent of Facebook and Twitter, an unhappy customer is one 15-second tweet away from telling his entire world exactly how much he dislikes your products. Sure, one or two of those may not spoil the bunch, but poor customer service leading to 20 bad tweets and a bad reputation? Now we’ve got a problem.

Customer service is critical to build and maintain a solid reputation in your business among potential and current customers. In fact, great customer service can not only avoid the bad tweets discussed above, but it can also make your business stand out; when you provide exceptional service to a client, he or she can effectively become an evangelizer for your business, telling their friends without prompting how much they enjoy your products and services. Free advertising from a satisfied customer!

Customer service is also aided in this endeavor by customer management processes and technological innovations that make it easier to not only connect with customers, but follow up to ensure satisfaction and completeness. Customer management software and databases are readily available for all businesses to remind owners about follow-ups, maintenance, and other customer needs, so they can anticipate what a customer wants before the customer even realizes it themselves. That is true customer service; being attentive, approachable, and free.

The technology is out there, in many different forms, for customer service relationships to grow and build. Use it in your business, whether through customer management software like the one found here, social media, or other old-fashioned tools, and watch your business reputation go through the roof. In turn, sales will of course follow through.

If you make quality products at good prices, you will have a successful business. If you can include top-notch customer service with a smile, well, you’ll have the reputation as the best small business in town!


6 Major Corporate PR Mistakes


As long as corporations have been marketing products and selling consumer goods, there has been a need for public relations to interact with their customers and steer brand discussions. And just as long as public relations have existed, there’s been mistakes made in communicating with customers. Here are just a few of the more recent public relations snafus corporations have made:

Netflix… or Qwikster

In 2011, Netflix forced a new pricing structure on their customers and decided to separate their DVD offerings from their streaming, calling the new DVD-only service Qwikster. The only problem? Customers didn’t want Qwikster and took to blogs and social media to voice their outrage at both changes, damaging what had long been a popular brand. Tarnished by being out of touch with their customers, Netflix had to quickly relent back to their initial product offerings.

GoDaddy Messes Up On SOPA

GoDaddy has long enjoyed their position as one of the brand leaders in domain registrations and Internet websites, but they found themselves in hot water when they supported the controversial SOPA bill in Congress last year. GoDaddy’s tech-savvy customers began to re-register domains with other registrars, forcing GoDaddy to quickly withdraw their support of SOPA and re-align themselves with their customers’ interests.

Susan G. Komen Struggles

Susan G. Komen stopped funding Planned Parenthood, ostensibly due to their director’s feelings about abortion and using funds to perform abortions. They didn’t factor in the backlash, though, and many of their long-time supporters were irate. Their backpedal further angered other constituents, proving the need for companies and organizations to avoid highly politicized topics for fear of offending everyone.

McDonald’s Doesn’t Get Twitter

McDonald’s promoted a hashtag #McDStories on Twitter, interested in hearing great stories about their brand. Twitter users quickly flooded the hashtag with negative comments and stories, taking it over from its initial purpose and angering McDonald’s with their snarky attitudes. McDonald’s quickly pulled back, failing to understand that social media conversations can’t be controlled in the same way as traditional public relations campaigns.

Domino’s Goes Viral For All The Wrong Reasons

Two Domino’s Pizza employees posted a YouTube video of them spitting on a customer’s pizza, prompting customers from around the country to stop using Domino’s and putting pressure on the CEO to make it right. He handled the issue well, making a public apology that was put up in New York’s Times Square, and openly displayed customer’s comments whether good or bad.

Anti-Gay Chik-fil-A

Finally, Chik-fil-A came under heat earlier this year when their founder openly supported initiatives against gay marriage around the country. Millions objected, and Chik-fil-A found themselves in the middle of a very negative firestorm against their brand and business, forcing them to recant and clarify the support was of the founder alone, and not the company itself.

Public relations mistakes happen, and for major corporations, they are inevitable. There are ways to handle them, though, and it all involves transparency and authenticity in dealing with customers and stakeholders. Companies that are truthful and forthright with their customers can overcome public relations mistakes quickly and in a relatively easy fashion.


New Career Paths and Your Car


One of the things that the recent years of economic difficulties and recession has activated for many people is a change of careers. This came as a major trauma and crisis for many people who were enjoying healthy, enchanted lifestyles as the result of the solid career path chosen. Unfortunately, the recent trouble has turned almost all of the commonly accepted stable careers on their head. People from all fields, walks of life, educational backgrounds and economic statuses have been laid off, let go and otherwise dismissed from their fruitful position and expected careers. While this has been traumatic and came as a major shock to many people, it has also inspired an entirely new generation of innovation and independent career potentials. And for many people, this has been as simple as buying new Falken tires and turning their truck into their income.

It is commonly said and believed that necessity is the mother of invention. This has certainly been the case in recent years of economic struggle. The need to put food on our table and a roof over our head has lead many people to completely abandon their previous career field and many times invent a path of their own. Eking out a living is live and well and while long-term stability has traditionally been one of the enticing factors for many fields, freedom, independence and originality are quickly becoming priorities. Interestingly, going into business for yourself has been a common dream for many people, who just never had the time, resources or perhaps courage to make it happen. Well, once again with a cliche, desperate times call for desperate measures, and this has literally forced people into making the decision to work for themselves, freelance or open their own business.

Various freelance positions and independent contract work have been newly established, and there are numerous people who are now making their living exclusively through this. There are some standard contract oriented companies that continue to exist though there are new and exciting possibilities occurring daily. One of the options for to put your custom rims to use is to become a courier. Or you can be a little more creative and establish a traveling notary service. If you already have a skill that isn’t geographic or building contextually dependent, such as being a nail tech, massage therapist or pet groomer, you can easily transition into a portable service provider and travel to your customers. You could be a traveling psychic, tarot card reader or even a clinical therapist and travel to your customers and clients. This reduces the need for office space and provides additional services to your consumer . Regardless of your particular interests, background or skills, it is possible to turn your hobby or semi professional talent into income. And these are just a few innovative ways people are making a living these days, and really enjoying what they do.


Disney, DUI and Reputation Management


Many celebrities get into trouble with the law.  It seems like there is a constant parade of young, and not so young stars getting their mugshots taken and then appearing in all the entertainment news reports.  This creates headaches for the star’s PR handlers.

Recently 20 year old Mitchell Mussa a star of the Hannah Montana series alongside Miley Cyrus was arrested in California on suspicion of DUI.  He failed to stop when initially pulled over.  He had a field sobriety test along with a breathalyzer.  Now this was a massive headache for the Disney Channel as he was underage and his blood alcohol level was over 0.08% the legal limit.  So he was according to the law – drunk.

His bail was set at $5,000 – but was released as he had no outstanding warrants.  If convicted he could face 6 months of jail time along with a hefty fine.

Disney has had quite a few of its celebrities fighting drink and drugs recently so one would think their PR department is getting use to dealing with this.  This is a good opportunity for the PR people to communicate clearly with the fans so that they understand what is happening.  Its also an opportunity for Musso to do some damage control and perhaps help out his fans by telling them of his experience and what he went through.  This will result in positive feedback for the actor and help him put this experience behind him.  Many actors have faced drinking and DUI challenges in the past and went on to restore their careers.

Disney will be doing their reputation good if they are seen to support their young stars when they are in trouble.  They can still put down his actions and point out that the result could have been loss of life.  Perhaps they can put together a special on underage drinking or DUI?

Information provided by Essex County DUI Attorney helping drivers with legal issues


The Importance of Customer Service in Any Field


Providing excellent customer service is an extremely important aspect of any business. And this is true whether you deal directly with your consumer, or whether or not you’re providing a product or actual service. There are many fields that overlook this essential aspect of their social relationship commitment, and this can hurt not only their overall reputation but in today’s extremely competitive market, it can also end up making or breaking you. And what could be more frustrating than after having invested thousands of dollars and an equal number of hours and energy into your life dream only to realize it’s all gone up in smoke due to lousy customer service from your staff. And worse yet, the route of this problem typically stems from poor management and inefficient leadership.

Most small business owners end up investing a lot of their personal savings as well as taking out a personal loan to start and maintain their business. The last thing anyone wants to deal with on account of poor business practices is personal ruin in the form of un-payable debt, ravaged credit status or even bankruptcy . And these are all possibilities when starting a business, you don’t want to increase your chances of experiencing them but neglecting the importance of quality customer service. Meanwhile, there are some industries, such as social service oriented suppliers that overlook this factor altogether.

So what does excellent customer service mean? At the very basic level it is a simple thank you and smile when attending to your customer. However, the extent of this practice goes so far as to apply it to co-workers and others you encounter on a daily basis. If you’re helping someone, on the phone or in person, and regardless of whether it is a with a product or service consider always respect their questions, needs and concerns. And if they have a question you can’t answer, the response should never be a tepid, “I don’t know,” but rather, “I will certainly find out for you.” These are just some of the basic principles to consider, though a quality customer service structure should be applied to the overall business philosophy.

It is no secret that consumers have multiple choices for almost all products and services and most of them will return to the establishment or agency that treats them with respect, knows their name and recognizes their needs. And even if you don’t feel you’re in a customer service industry, you most definitively are. This is true for medical offices as well as plumbers , electricians, pest control companies and all others. People pay for the products and services, that is definite, but they will give their dollars to the agency that treats them well, which is also assured. And it is much better to invest in customer service training for your staff, than to have to use them to bail you out of a financial disaster that arises due to a preventable lack of consumer interest. It’s your business, your future, your dream and your life, don’t overlook this essential aspect of how you practice it.


Choosing the right type of Advertising for your Business


As a business owner you may be wondering if you need to advertise. Or, what type and how much advertising might be optimal for you. Choosing the right type of Advertising for your Business can be a confusing and overwhelming process, but if done correctly it can be a key factor in your business’ success or failure. Whether owners realize it or not, all businesses use some sort of advertising, because even word of mouth is a form of advertising. If it gets your name out there then it is advertising. The whole point is to give your business exposure in hopes of bringing in new leads for business. So, what type of advertising should you be using?

When choosing the right type of advertising agency for your business, you need to look at the size of your business, how large a territory you are capable of servicing, what kind of advertising budget you can afford, and the demographics of your target customer. These details are important factors in the type and size of advertising that is best for your company.

The most common and sometimes completely unrecognized source of free advertising that every business has to some extent is “Word of Mouth”. Negative word of mouth can be just as harmful as positive word of mouth can be beneficial. Provide good customer service and customers will say good things about you.

Other types of advertising are mailings, billboards, radio advertising, television commercials, magazine and newspaper advertisements, contests, phone book ads and the internet. Those are only a few advertising options. Let’s not forget the sandwich sign people standing in the malls and on the corners in their costumes attracting attention. Use your imagination and come up with your own inventive advertising solutions.

If you are a smaller one person owner operator business that only services your local community, you should focus more on your actual market, instead of broad multi-region ads, opting for local mailers, a phone book ad or even the sandwich sign guy, and not spend the money on TV and radio ads, or vast internet advertisement. If you are a larger company that needs to get your information out coast to coast or worldwide, TV, Radio or the Internet might be your best bet. When choosing the right type of advertising for your business, choose the one that best focuses on your needs while giving you the most bang for your buck.


Reputation, Marriage, and Vegas Law


For many years now, the phrase “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” has moved along from an advertising slogan to allure tourists to a cliche for situation comedies in Hollywood. There have been more than enough celebrities who have found their way into this famed desert city, married, then unmarried, to attest there is actually little truth to the phrase. If not careful with your own reputation, even here, you might find yourself in need of a Las Vegas lawyer.

In the case of quick marriages, most people are aware of Britney Spears’ fast and furious arrangement to tie the knot to Jason Allen Alexander (admittedly fewer people may recall the groom) at the Little White Wedding Chapel on the Strip, just about a half mile past the Stratosphere Hotel.

Not only does what happen here not stay in Vegas, this little chapel offers the opportunity for those not invited to your wedding to watch it on Internet through the chapel’s webcam!

As one of Vegas’ most famous sites, it has drawn in celebrities left and right, from Hollywood legends such as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the 1950s, Judy Garland and Mark Herron, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow in the 1960s, to more recent celebrities such as British Journalist Charlie Brooker and British television presenter Konnie Huq in 2010.

The chapel with its own Drive-Thru Tunnel of Vows began in 1951, and has since married close to 800,000 couples, which keeps its staff of around ten ministers busy. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were 133,000 U.S. marriages in February of 2006, and 269 of those were held on a single day at the Little White Wedding Chapel -Valentine’s Day. There’s no quick way to determine how many of these weddings lasted; however, a glance at Nevada statistics, approximately 120,000 people get married each year there, and about 12,000 are divorced each year.

Of course, there’s a reason Nevada has one of the highest rates of marriage in the United States: It’s easy to do.

In Nevada, people older than 16 may get married (however, if the parties are 16 and 17 years old, they still need permission from their parents); the Nevada law doesn’t require a blood test nor a waiting period for a license, and the fee is relatively cheap. It’s possible to get a marriage license in about ten minutes and to have a wedding ceremony in about 15 minutes. The offices for marriage licenses have longer hours than most states, too (some as long as 8 a.m. to Midnight, Monday through Sunday, and that includes holidays).

Combining marriage with gambling and entertainment can create some interesting situations, such as the Britney Spears wedding; with any luck, though, most marriages will add to your reputation instead of diminish it, and you won’t have to be searching for books on Vegas Law in order to seek an equally quick divorce or annulment.