It’s not a secret that having a solid reputation instills trust or that a bad reputation travels faster than a good one. How do you get the word out about your credibility? The answer is third-party endorsements. They include customer and user testimonials, expert and celebrity endorsements and all news articles.
Before the internet, small businesses relied on word of mouth to gain trust with the public. While that may have evolved to fit our world today with online reviews, it certainly hasn’t died. The first thing overwhelmed consumers do before purchasing is read customer reviews and recommendations on company websites, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and more. Surveys rank legitimate customer reviews as more persuasive to buyers than advertising or paid celebrity endorsements.
Reviews Validate and Legitimize Your Brand
Ninety-three percent of online review readers seek to determine the quality of a business, and 85 percent say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. People naturally distrust what they aren’t familiar with, and positive reviews—and even positive company responses to negative reviews—instill confidence. Third-party endorsements are the lifeblood of a political campaign with candidates seeking backing from school boards, law enforcement and civil rights groups as well as their own parties.
People today are alert to advertising in all its forms. Third-party endorsements come from sources with nothing to gain and attain the highest level of public relations effectiveness. In fact, almost all such high-credibility endorsements can be solicited without detracting from their value. For example, an Oprah book endorsement often means the best-sellers list and is seen as a powerful third-party authentication.
Building relationships with reporters who cover your market earns street cred too. Being quoted as an expert in a news article is interpreted as an endorsement by the publication and positions you as a credible source.
Highlighting Third-party Endorsements
Adding a tab to your company website with testimonials, reviews and endorsements makes your site active and useful. Testimonials are made even more impactful by interviewing your clients and posting a short video of their success stories.
Professional execution is important. Vagueness, paraphrase and gush are less effective than direct communication. Verifiable information is the currency.
Ineffective testimonials lack names, dates, locations and identities of the reviewers. Fake reviews are destructive to reputation and should be avoided at all cost. Most clients are comfortable being named if given a chance to confirm and approve. The more specific the citation, the more powerful the credibility.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a review.
Your competition probably already has reviews, considering that 74 percent of businesses ask customers to share their experience online. Surprisingly, 68 percent of consumers have left a review after a business asked them to, so make it a policy to ask for these testimonials each time you develop a relationship with a client or have a big win. They help marketing, build reputation and tell you what you’re doing right.
Third-party endorsements are critical to B2B buyers. In fact, 97 percent say that “user-generated content such as peer reviews is more credible than other types of content.” Other third-party endorsements include industry awards, speaking at industry events, being included in research analyst reports, earning news coverage, getting ranked on “best of” lists and customer reviews online through sites such as Google and Yelp as well as active social media platforms. Get employees to tell the world what a great place to work the company is at Glassdoor.com. These sites also further enhance your SEO scores on search engines.
Take some time this summer to make third-party endorsements a part of your marketing efforts.
According to Seth Horowitz, an auditory neuroscientist from Brown University, “Listening is a skill we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distractions and information overload.” In fact, researchers estimate that we only remember 25–50% of what we hear. Successful people hone this important life skill.
In an article for Forbes, Matt Toledo, CEO of Provisors, writes: “Listening is the single most crucial skill in communicating and building your business. Listening increases productivity, boosts confidence and reduces errors. Listening can have numerous benefits, including making you popular, building your personal brand and expanding your relationship network.”
Read the full article: Business Tools: The Art Of Listening (Forbes)
U.S. stocks climbed Wednesday, lifted by gains in shares of retailers despite continued worries about tighter financial conditions and geopolitical tensions.
Rosy retail sales data Tuesday also have supported consumer stocks and expectations for robust growth in the U.S., though the figures also reignited worries about higher interest rates.
Still, some investors think markets can withstand higher rates as long as the Fed sticks with its current gradual pace of tightening.
“I don’t think it’s been at a speed that’s too difficult to deal with,” said Jeff Garden, senior research analyst and portfolio manager at Lido Advisors. “This has been coming for a long time.”
Read the full article: U.S. Stocks Rise, Led by Retailers (Wall Street Journal)
OWC has been named to the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2018 list of the “75 Largest Public Relations Firms in Los Angeles County.”
OWC, celebrating its tenth year in business, has been on the list for each of the previous nine years, and continues to expand its service to the most innovative companies in healthcare, finance and technology.
“The current information war makes this an important time for public relations,” said Tracy Williams, CEO and founder. “We and our clients are on the front lines of explanatory journalism, where facts and rapid response are the keys to successful growth in every marketplace. It’s an honor for our success to be recognized.”
The LABJ list ranks public relations firms throughout Los Angeles according to number of employees and growth based on fee revenue.
See the full release here.
This week, the Connect:ID 2018 conference in Washington, D.C. hosted a session on digital driver’s licenses. It included a presentation from Rob Mikell, director of business development for government solutions at Billerica, Mass.-based IDEMIA—the company charged with supplying Iowa’s digital driver’s license technology. IEEE Spectrum caught up with Mikell after the conference, and asked him to make the case for digital driver’s licenses, also called mobile driver’s licenses.
“[A digital driver’s license is] not a simple photograph of your driver’s license on your cell phone. It’s a digital, secured rendering of your driver’s license that is dynamically connected back to the system of record—that would be your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV),” said Mikell.
Read the full article: Driver’s Licenses Go Digital (IEEE Spectrum)
Steven Ruhl, VP of manufacturing for CURE Pharmaceutical, was featured in a roundtable in the April edition of the American Pharmaceutical Review on “Raw Materials and Functional Excipients.”
“Regulatory and quality expectations of excipients will continue to increase,” said Ruhl, “which has put more pressure on excipient and raw material companies to invest in characterizing functionality and building robust processes to consistently address company needs. This has led to a greater focus on understanding critical material attributes and ranges by both suppliers and customers earlier in the development process.”
Read the full article: Raw Materials and Functional Excipients (American Pharmaceutical Review)
OWC has been retained by two healthcare clients to its growing roster. CURE Pharmaceutical (OTC: CURR) is an innovative drug delivery company, and Saban Community Clinic is a federally-qualified health center providing low-cost, integrated health care to the Los Angeles community.
“Healthcare is one of the fastest growing markets in the country, and we are fortunate to work with two innovators,” said Tracy Williams, OWC founder and CEO. “CURE Pharmaceutical and Saban Community Clinic are two organizations that are changing patient’s lives and improving the delivery healthcare to those in need.”
Read the full announcement: Olmstead Williams Communications Adds Two Healthcare Leaders to Client Portfolio (iReach)
TaskUs, which provides next-generation customer support solutions for technology companies and has a big operation in San Antonio, announced this morning that it has named Jarrod Johnson as Chief Customer Officer.
Johnson was previously SVP of Sales at TaskUs and will be based in the company’s Dallas offices. Johnson also had served at ACS and IBM. TaskUs–which has a very significant employee base in the Philippines–also has an on-shore facility in San Antonio, Texas.
Read the full article: TaskUs Grows Executive Team In Dallas (Texas Tech Pulse)
OWC has added two technology clients to its growing roster. Cubic Motion is the global leader in real-time computer vision and facial animation technology, and Linius Technologies Limited (ASX: LNU) provides content intelligence and the next evolution of video streaming technology.
“Innovation means different things to different industries. To us, it means that a business is doing things smarter and differentiating itself in the market,” said Tracy Williams, OWC founder and CEO. “Cubic Motion and Linius are two organizations that are disrupting industries with breakthrough technology that is ahead of its time.”
Read the full announcement: Two Global Technology Leaders Expand Olmstead Williams Communications Client Portfolio (iReach)
There’s no question that over the last decade Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has grown from a flip-flop wearing startup bro into a full-blown tech tycoon and astute businessman to be reckoned with. There is, however, a debate on how well he’s handled the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle. While Zuckerberg’s initial absence and radio-silence approach is ill-advised during a crisis, it’s clear he spent his time out of the spotlight when the fiasco first broke getting some much-needed media training. There were several ways he handled the congressional hearing surprisingly well, and a few where he faltered. Here’s what we can learn from the latest PR disaster taking the world by storm:
Be transparent … quickly and of your own volition.
Before attending the congressional hearing, Zuckerberg was relatively absent from the conversation, allowing a news vacuum to open and anyone with a theory to fill the void. Don’t let others create fake news to explain your story. Get in front of controversy by being as transparent as possible, disclosing all the facts as quickly as possible and making yourself available for questions from the media. Answering “no comment” is an unacceptable response. Get the facts out and get them out fast.
Control the narrative, not the reporters.
Don’t threaten to sue The New York Times and the Guardian for publishing the facts. This is a sure-fire way to turn your most important potential allies against you. Covering the news is a reporter’s job, but the way they frame a story is a choice – and your interactions with them influence that choice. Are you making their job easier or more difficult? Are you dodging their questions or creating an open line of communication?
Guide the interview and stick to your messages.
One thing Zuckerberg did particularly well during the hearing was control the interview. He stuck to his talking points and stayed on message employing a few strategic tactics, like:
- Building a bridge. If a reporter starts to wander into areas you don’t want to talk about, answer the reporter’s inquiry briefly, then build a bridge back to your key points. When Zuckerberg was pushed on certain sensitive topics, such as defining what Facebook is, he took control of the conversation by bridging to a topic he felt was relevant and supported his messaging.
- Rephrasing tricky questions. It’s important not to let anyone put words in your mouth, but don’t argue. To avoid getting stuck in a semantics war, restructure loaded questions to guide back to your talking points and where you feel comfortable with phrases like “I think what you’re asking is …” A great example of this is when Zuckerberg addressed regulation questions with a question of his own: “I think the real question, as the internet becomes more important in people’s lives, is what is the right regulation? Not whether there should be or not.”
- Flagging key points. Emphasize that the statement you are about to make is one the reporter should remember. Zuckerberg did a great job of illustrating this tactic when responding to Sen. Leahy’s question on Facebook’s role in violence in Myanmar saying “Yes, we’re working on this and there are three specific things we are doing…” He then proceeded to list the three actionable tactics, along with the reasons behind them, succinctly in only 36 seconds.
This is another area where Zuckerberg shined. He arrived calm and collected with soundbite messages prepared and his key objectives defined. He even brought a now-notorious binder of notes to help him answer tough questions about hot-button issues should he get stuck. Preparation goes a long way to helping you feel more in control and at ease.
It’s important to humanize your brand by being sincere and apologetic. Apologizing doesn’t have to be synonymous with admitting fault; it’s about expressing concern that the crisis occurred. Express concern for any victims and their families. If a mistake was made, apologize. There’s a common saying: “People buy people, not products.” It means that people choose to do business with people they feel connected to, like and, above all, trust. Zuckerberg has spent 14 years as the face of Facebook, yet when the news broke, he was missing from the conversation and so was his public apology.
While crises are inevitable, we can choose how we respond when they do happen. Let Zuckerberg’s reaction to the recent troubles Facebook is facing be a lesson to you. Remember: don’t delay, apologize, be transparent and be accountable.