College Reputation Arms Race – And Puppies

College Admissions Arms RaceThe university admissions process is a big topic around my house these days as my daughter is prepping for college entrance exams.  Higher education has never been such a big business, and the college decision grows more complicated as rankings proliferate from well-known media outlets and unknown blogs alike.  Questions are beginning to swirl around our atmosphere of friends, colleagues and family members.  Where can your kid get in?  What universities, if any, are affordable?  What defines a good college reputation these days?  More questions than answers.

One thing I know for sure is that many of the nation’s thousands of colleges and universities are engaged in a reputational arms race.

One of the main battlegrounds is intercollegiate sports, and Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity recently completed a study about it.  (Given my obsessive relationship with college football, it’s no wonder I found this interesting.)  If you follow college sports, you have heard about universities bulking-up their sports programs with the goal of raising the school’s overall profile.  Nike founder Phil Knight famously donates millions to his beloved University of Oregon with one of the indisputable strategies being that better sports teams (and very flashy uniforms) will increase the overall reputation of the university.  Financier T. Boone Pickens has made similar donations to Oklahoma State University, and I’m sure there are many other examples.Read More

Improve Crisis Messaging through Deeper Social Media Analysis

david pr twitter during crisisDespite incredible advances in technology, the development of messaging during a crisis still feels like it is done on the fly.  We look at our key audiences (such as customers, employees or the general public) and then try to put ourselves in their shoes.  What do they want to hear from our company during this crisis?  What do we surmise they are thinking about us?  We put on our mind-reading helmets to attempt to sympathize and empathize because that’s how we were trained.  Researchers at the University of Missouri just completed a study which suggests that there might be a better mousetrap.  And, yes, it has to do with social media and how your reputation is determined online.

Doctoral students Doug Wilbur and Dani Myers analyzed Twitter responses to a crisis and found that seemingly unorganized or semi-organized groups may actually develop organized positions toward a company in crisis.  I know that sounds a bit odd and far-too-academic for my usual blog post, but here comes the example that tells the tale.

Wilbur and Myers looked at the NFL’s concussion issue, and then gauged the impact of last year’s movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith.  They knew the movie would generate reactions from multiple audiences, and they decided to measure and analyze those reactions on Twitter.Read More

Visibility Marketing Book Helps Fix Messaging that “Probably Sucks”

Visibility MarketingHere’s a news flash from well-known speaker and author David Avrin: Your marketing probably sucks. Ouch, right? In his latest book, Visibility Marketing, Avrin pulls no punches after years of consulting with companies about messaging and marketing. He concludes that most companies are using the same, competency-based messages – which may have worked in the past but don’t work now.

What led him to this? I sat down with Avrin to find out, and in between grins and laughter, I learned a ton. According to Avrin, whose book launches this week, the marketplace is populated with great companies that are smart, strong, lean and good at what they do. It’s no longer effective to suggest that your company is simply better than your competitors because 1) it’s probably not true and 2) the marketplace is fed-up with hearing the same trite messages over and over again.Read More

How to Measure Reputation

davidpr.com measure reputation

Harris Reputation Quotient attributes

Measurement in the world of public relations has always been an ethereal concept. Putting a value on media coverage or social media awareness remains a bit of a Holy Grail. How we measure reputation appears just as daunting to me, but it turns out that analysts at the Harris Poll have been studying this since 1999, gauging the reputations of the most visible companies in the U.S. through the eyes of the general public.

I spoke with Sarah Simmons who gave me a great rundown as the firm tracks many companies and compiles data each year for its poll. (Simmons works for Nielsen Holdings which purchased Harris Interactive in 2013.) While the companies at the top of the poll aren’t really a surprise – Amazon, Apple, Google, USAA, The Walt Disney Company (pre-alligator attack), Publix Super Markets, Samsung, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg Company – it’s interesting how the results are determined.Read More

Glassdoor Offers Transparent Reviews of Companies

David PR Group GlassdoorWhile researching my book about online reputation issues, I was fortunate to speak with executives from several of the top online review sites.  (One site wouldn’t talk to me, but that’s another story.)  Glassdoor stands out because it has brought the online review to the workplace.  The folks who founded the site realized that while we may spend a few weeks a year traveling and on vacation, we spend 40-50 hours every week during the rest of the year at work.

The site has quickly built strong online authority.  A search for nearly any company with the word “jobs” next to it will likely find the company’s Glassdoor listing on the first or second page of search results.  In some instances, the Glassdoor listing hits above the company site.  Amazingly, many major companies have unclaimed profiles on Glassdoor while literally thousands of reviews, interview questions and CEO ratings are being posted.Read More

How You Can Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO

David PR Think Like an EntrepreneurAs I read more business books and meet more authors, I find it interesting that many have started out writing blogs or newsletter articles which, over time, gained steam and led to eventual published works. Author Beverly Jones successfully leveraged her career-advice-filled blog and newsletter, turning it into a great book called Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO. It includes 50 tips on how to stay afloat, bounce back and get ahead at work.Read More

3 Tips to Build Your Reputation on TripAdvisor

tripadvisor DavidPR.comTravel website TripAdvisor aspires to be a complete online travel resource, offering the ability to research destinations, compare prices on accommodations and book that dream vacation. However, its core offering is user-generated content in the form of ratings, reviews and photos – to the tune of about 350 million unique monthly visitors and 320 million reviews and opinions covering more than 6.2 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions.

Owners of some hotels and restaurants love it because it has cost-effectively leveled the playing field between small and large destinations and attractions. An executive told me that he has met owners of hotels and restaurants who have literally wept tears of joy when he met them in person at conferences. At the same time, some business owners feel like reviews on TripAdvisor are not reflective of the actual business. As is the case with all review sites, some folks will be unhappy.

I spoke with Brian Payea, head of industry relations at TripAdvisor, and he outlined key ways that business owners can get the most from the site.Read More

Solving the Yelp Puzzle to Build Your Business

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Founded in 2004, the online review site, Yelp, often confounds business owners. It is, without question, one of the dominant review sites and one that often outperforms company websites on search results. What that means is that a search for a particular restaurant on a search engine, for example, could pull up a Yelp listing ahead of the restaurant’s actual site. Now, if the reviews on Yelp are positive, this may increase the chance of a customer booking. However, if reviews are largely negative, the opposite could be true.

A 2011 Harvard Business School study found that each “star” in a Yelp rating impacted sales by between 5-9 percent. Another study suggested that increasing a star rating from 3.5 to 4 on Yelp would increase a restaurant’s chances of being booked during peak hours by 19 percent.

Some businesses have seen dramatic marketing results from actively working with Yelp and engaging the community.

If handled correctly, Yelp has the potential to help generate business for companies with listings, but the site has some idiosyncrasies that need to be addressed and managed.Read More

Deeper Dive Into Changing Customer Experience: 5 Questions with Brian Solis

Experience vs. DesignLate last year, I met author and customer experience sage Brian Solis.  My blog post about my conversation with him, Is Customer Experience the Next Killer App?,was one of the most widely shared, liked and tweeted blogs that I have ever written.  And since then, you can’t swing a dead cat without hearing a marketer chime-in about improving the customer experience, or CX, as we cool people like to call it.  I had a follow-up call with Brian recently as he transferred from car to plane on one of his many worldwide speaking engagements and workshops discussing CX.  Here are five questions and answers with Brian which will assist any business owner or executive who wants to improve the customer experience in their business. 

John P. David: When did you realize that customer experience is the new brand?  Did it hit you in the shower or was it an evolution? 

Brian Solis: I definitely see it as an evolution.  I have tracked and researched customer relationship trends for many years, and when I looked at the iconic brands, I believed that their successes were bigger than the products and bigger than the brands themselves.  Iconic brands like Apple and Disney offer more.  I have been studying the issue for more than seven years and spent the last three years working on the book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design.

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Yes, you can get a book deal

how to protect or destroy your reputation onlineBack in October, I wrote a post about my efforts to write a book, my take on the publishing industry, and my desire to get a book deal.  The reaction was fascinating and in some cases, very emotional.  First, I learned that there’s a tremendous amount of underlying bitterness about the publishing business from unpublished authors.  Second, many folks believe self-publishing is the way to go because traditional publishing is broken, and self-published authors can get a better share of the profits.  And third, many folks believe it’s impossible for an unknown writer to get a deal.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to get a publishing contract because I did it.  Career Press in New Jersey will publish my book, How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, and it will be available in bookstores, online, and “wherever fine books are sold” by the end of the year or shortly thereafter.

Here’s how I did it

First, literary agents are the primary gatekeepers for the publishing industry.  So, if you want to get a book deal as a non-fiction author, you first need to find an agent.

How do you get an agent?  I didn’t know any, so I asked a few author friends to make introductions to theirs (an idea from my friend Bruce Turkel).  I also researched and cross-referenced my LinkedIn contacts, looking for agents and any of my contacts who knew agents.  I also joined Publishers Marketplace, a website where literary agents congregate and publicize book deals.  From there, I started targeting agents who I thought might be interested in my book.  I tackled it like a marketing campaign.Read More