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Changing minds and opinions about who you are and your brand through communication strategy

Sometimes brands go through moments of crisis that damage their reputation and surround them with an atmosphere of negative opinions. And we all know that a bad opinion tends to have more impact than several positive ones, often making it difficult for a brand to recover from hard times. But the good news is that rebuilding your reputation is not impossible and there are ways to change the perception about your brand through communications.

Our approach to changing opinions, and ultimately behaviors, is driven by research, consensus building and proven communication strategies and techniques. We have seen examples where the creativity driven and untested approach hit real headwinds, and we prefer strategies that are more focused on information. This methodology can be spilt into five phases:

  1. Research and Planning– The first stage is a complete review of existing research, reports, projects, and promotional materials so we can get an idea of where we are starting. We also use a variety of methodologies to collect perceptions such as online surveys, street interviews, or focus-groups where early findings and concepts can be shared to achieve buy-in.

  1. Building awareness – This next step is to come up with the tactics. Some are straightforward – a clear, usable logo, and a blog to serve as the anchor of a campaign. Social media will provide the channels for ads and pushing out the stories we want to tell about the brand. Printed materials that can easily be shared and a campaign that uses the web, media and word of mouth to get the good news out are additional awareness-building tools to develop.

  1. Developing a latent readiness – Once the information is out there, people will begin to form opinions based on our narrative. Different people will reach different opinions based on their personalities, values, and beliefs. Those with a higher degree of latent readiness will turn to opinion leaders – people they know and trust – to validate their ideas and get ready to act, on their opinion. This is how we go beyond informing to motivating behavior. This is where we use brand to influence minds. In this phase, we will target important third party opinion leaders to help us move those who are latently ready to embrace a different perspective.

  1. Intermediate behaviors – These are the 'little steps' that people take when they are moving to real behavioral change. These are not the ultimate behavioral goal, but they are an important step in the decision making process. Keeping track of these intermediate behaviors will help to determine how well a message has been received by your target markets and how many people are on the verge of taking our desired action.

  1. Behavior change -- After intermediate behaviors, we will see behavior change. This is the goal of our plan. Behavior changes are measurable outputs of public relations and the ultimate success of the plan.

The ultimate product is a complete, research-based plan for defining and rolling out your brand. It will include priority audiences, key messages, behavioral goals strategies and tactics and evaluation measures.

We know that for this effort to succeed, we need to help train community members to be brand ambassadors and arm them with the key messages. That won’t be hard; as for any brand to succeed it needs to be 100% authentic.

In a nutshell, to replace negative impressions with positive ones, we use high-ROI tools such as blogging, social media, print and a proven communications theory to reach out to the key market with a call to action.

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