How to Create Authentic, Fact-Based, Hype-Free PR

By: Guest | June 5, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Tom Gable.

Strategic PR programs obviously benefit from the power of social media and instant communications to help build image and reputation.

But if not approached with authenticity and supported with facts, organizations can suffer the electronic version of bands of angry villagers carrying torches, and storming the castle to right some wrong and kill the monster.

(But now they can do it globally to instantly trash reputations that aren’t protected by solid walls of reputation built on impenetrable foundations of trust.)

How do you develop a values-based, hype-free program to build long-term image and reputation amidst the cacophony of communications clutter and protect against future attacks? 

Think about all the tools at our disposal: Media relations, community relations, events, trade shows, websites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogging, and more.

Envision what I’ll call the three-dimensional chess model or image-building in 3D.

The concept is to go high, wide, and deep using multiple tools and contact points to connect in new ways; break out of the competitive clutter.

What are your core values? Does the organization have a culture and a personality? Can you establish a solid foundation from your values and then demonstrate proof of principle over time (walk the talk)?

You want throngs of supporters singing songs of praise at every level in every channel.

How do you get there?

It starts with thinking about how you want the organization (or individual) to be known in two to three years. Envision all your target audiences and their sources of information.

What channels do you need to use to ensure they get the right information in a timely, strategic fashion to support your program goals? Where do you build your positions of strength and support? As the plans unfold, can you envision five moves ahead, 10 and 20 or more?

But it needs to be fact-based and authentic. The value of reputation has been proven over time in studies by many brilliant authors in the world of reputation management (Charles Fombrun, Leslie Gaines-Ross, Al Ries, and John Kotter, to name a few).

Fombrun was one of the first to measure the impact of reputation in his classic book, “Reputation – Realizing Value from the Corporate Image.” He followed later with “Fame and Fortune” and has since launched The Reputation Institute. He notes to acquire a reputation that is positive, enduring, and resilient requires managers to invest heavily in building and maintaining good relationships with their company’s constituents: Employees, investors, customers, and communities.

Doing so pays off in the long run because favorable reputations produce tangible benefits: Premium prices for products, lower costs of capital and labor, improved loyalty from employees, greater latitude in decision making, and a cushion of goodwill when crises hit.

A recent study by his Institute noted even companies with weak reputations can gain from telling their side of the story. Anthony Johndrow, managing director of the Institute, said companies need to tell stories that go beyond the products and services their customers use.

Join this conversation and tell your corporate story to create the support needed in tough times. Corporations can create deeper connections than products can alone, essentially deploying who they are as a company to drive business results.

The 3D approach is the answer. It can create extraordinary image momentum and ROI as the game pieces move in an intricate orchestration toward ultimate victory: Building reputations that are solid, enduring, and resilient, able to grow and even withstand the occasional corporate misstep, crisis, and assault.

That’s the essence of authentic, fact-based, hype-free PR.

What do you think?

Tom Gable, APR and PRSA Fellow, is CEO of Gable PR, San Diego. A former financial journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee, he is author of “The PR Client Service Manual” and a frequent contributor to PRSA publications and speaker at national conferences on jargon-free public relations, creativity and strategic reputation management. You can follow him on Twitter @tomgable.

  • PaulSchooss


  • Tom,
    Excellent post and absolutely correct but we’ve been talking about these things forever. How do we make it finally happen?
    I was the salesman in chief for a Hill and Knowlton reputation measurement product in the late ’90s. It was good. It worked. It was too expensive for PR budgets and never went anywhere. Fombrun has done some great thinking on this. There was also a book “The Invisible Advantage” by Low and Kalafut in 02 that really started to quantify the benefit of reputation. A decade later we’re all stil talking about, debating what measurement practices to apply and doing the same old thing – billing people for our time instead of results.
    We need to push for more action and less discussion. As an industry we probably need to be willing to change how we get paid for what we do if we really want to create this kind of change.

  • Hi Tom! It’s fun seeing you  here! 
    This is something we talk about all the time, but @RickRice is right…how do we finally make it happen? We not only need to be willing to change how we get paid for what we do, but also to measure our results to things that matter to a business – revenues, margins, sales cycles. Until then, I’m afraid the good guys will keep doing things right, but nothing will ever change industry-wide.

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