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Brands, Public Relations

Be Human! A Lesson for Brands

Some Valuable Take-Aways from the Communications Conference I Attended Today

You hear over and over again in public relations and branding discussions that it is essential to “be human.”  Consumers want to be able to interact with a brand.  Messaging is most successful when it resonates with its audience.

This is all true! But how can we take that idea and put it into practice? How can brands be more human?

  • Language: Everything from the way you craft a message in a press release to the word choices you make in a Tweet influence how shareable that content is. Shareable content has more reach and we all love that!  It is important to recognize words and phrases that are overused, though, in order to cut through the excess of content that’s out there. For example, there are those words that are entirely too overused in press releases: Top 25 Most Over Used Words in Press Releases (according to PR News). You know what I am talking about… “award-winning” and “innovative” and “entrepreneurial.” It doesn’t mean much if everyone claims to be these things. These words lose their meaning and their power; reporters have filters set up to avoid emails with these words and phrases such as “for immediate release.”  So how to break through? Be real. Be genuine. Offer something new and refreshing. Language can be the starting point for expressing what makes your brand unique.
  • Social Media: It can be an invaluable tool for brands to engage with their audiences, respond to crisis and alleviate misconceptions. That being said, companies should not hide behind their Twitter accounts. The same is true of public relations professionals. Social media is not a substitute for human relationships. The Comcast PR Veteran explains the multi-layered media approach.
  • Evoke emotion: Depending on your company or brand, this may seem to be easier said than done. But in every news story you should be looking for an element that resonates with your audience. There needs to be something inspiring, something of value to them. This is what drives people to respond to and share content online. I love this example: Bringing smiles to autistic kids.  By pairing two unlikely missions, this company helped to raise awareness about autism while also progressing its financial goals. Anyone with a heart is going to have positive feelings about a brand that associates itself with positive messages and a good cause such as autism awareness.

These are just a few of the things that were running through my head while I was at the communications conference today. This is hardly a complete list.

Some of it was pulled from the speaker’s comments, but most of it is just my own common sense. Of course people want to interact with a brand that is more human, more real. Take the recent Red Cross slip up. In case you missed it, an intern accidentally tweeted from the Red Cross account about getting slizzard. Woops! But most importantly the Red Cross handled it wonderfully, making a lighthearted joke and moving forward. They showed that… We are only human, we make mistakes!

Talk about a relate-able message.

What do you think? What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear!

Say hello on Twitter: @AESmith03 

About Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amanda is currently the V.P. of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Council executive board. She is also involved with PRSSA and Hill Communications, a student-run public relations firm.


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