The concepts of organizational identity, image, and reputation are important in business operations, especially for the strategy that is engaged in by business decision-makers as well as the outward communication that a company extends. There are various understandings of each term both in the working sector and within scholarly research in the academic realm. SEO agencies can help businesses shape all three in their conceptualization and implementation through their online presence.
Largely, no one definition can be decided on in either area which perpetuates misunderstandings and a disconnect between readings, reports, and ultimately how the terms are used by businesses in terms of naming what specifically the communication they are engaging in affects. Establishing another set of definitions is not the intent of this post (although I will offer three simple operational understandings further down), the idea is to put forth a strategy for approaching each term so they can be appropriately differentiated from one another and purposefully applied.
Differentiating the Concepts/Terms
Businesses need to understand, for their own purposes, how their identity differs from their image, and then reputation to be able to study them and establish how their actions impact each. SO, this is paramount for businesses to take the time to establish and is an internal process.
- Most businesses do not work out any differentiation between each [identity, image, and reputation]. Thus, businesses need to establish a differentiation, stick to them, and then act on it.
I would argue that some understandings of the terms are better than others if you want to quantify them and measure the impact of various actions on each. However, if a business simply wants to have a set difference between the concepts to be able to plan their marketing action, then choosing a way to understand each following through with it is the best course of action. On the flip side, not running with any set idea of each is the worst possible move to make.
For a simple preliminary breakdown where research and measurement of each is not as important, identity can simply be understood as the way that a business sees itself in their mission, values, goals, and organizational culture. A business’ image can be understood as that which they extend outward toward their various publics which encompasses their tone, message, and the way that they want to be perceived by their publics and audiences. This represents the elements that the business portrays in their communication. Reputation is then the way that the business is seen by their publics (over time). The ‘over time’ element is problematic for measurement but is helpful in simple differentiation.
For more information regarding business’ identity, image, and reputation and how they impact PR and internet marketing, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ryanwbudd.
“Godfather, be my friend,” a man pleads as he kisses Don Vito’s hand. The former was really asking of a favor. The Godfather knew. It’s VERY LIKELY those on your ‘let’s be pals’ radar know your immediate intentions too. It’s okay; be aware of their awareness and proceed…naturally.
I’ve been pretty successful in making friends throughout my life. I’m actually pretty cool; but, that’s for me to know and others to notice. In social life, I can be a bit lax, allowing things to happen at a gradual pace. I’m a tough sell. I’m not going to ‘be down’ with just anyone. In my professional life, things are a bit different, warranting a mixture of friendly and professional sentiments; but, I’m very similar to other professionals in that regard too. I’m not going to be ‘cool’ with just anyone. If I did want to begin a relationship, I would go about it in the following manner.
The Elephant in the Room
Have you ever engaged someone in conversation, knowing there is an ulterior motive for the union, yet it goes ‘unpublished’ in conversation. It makes for an awkward guessing game of what the other person is thinking. Be honest whenever approaching or PR pitching another professional. Would you like their help? Would you like them to read your blog? Would you like to be considered as a source in an article? All of these ‘selfish’ desires are acceptable; however, don’t ‘beat around the bush.’ Just be direct. Being direct doesn’t guarantee a disarming welcome; but, it does let the other person know you’re a straight shooter, honest, and not wasting their time.
Some time ago, I wanted to guest post on Mike King’s blog. I hit him up in an email; and, though may have been a bit complimentary in the opening, I was succinct in my intentions. I wanted a social media post on ipullrank’s blog; however, it was important to offer something to Mike’s readers too. Why else would he accept if I wasn’t creating some sort of value? Mike posted on the wrong and right way to ask for a guest post.
My mom thinks I’m special; that goes along with the job. I know. Do others? Perhaps, but it’s because I earned their respect. I did; I inspired; I worked; I expressed; I did a number of things to openly demonstrate (out in the practical, wide-open world) I can offer some sort of value. Think of other professionals as active musicians. By adding your presence, does their professional world become more harmonious? If not, they’re likely to want you to ‘sit this number out.’ Maybe you can try-out again when you have something of value to offer.
Value is subjective; but, the need to offer ‘something’ is an objective reality. What can you offer?
- Humor (maybe you make them laugh with your take on the industry)
- Research (maybe you’ve crunched a lot of data, elucidating a new trend or previously unseen ‘truth’)
- Exposure (maybe you have a high number of followers and can introduce a personality to a new pool of subscribers and vice versa)
- Guidance (perhaps you have experience in a particular area and can offer insight)
Think about what you can add. It’s a delicate dance of give and take. If you’re not offering anything valuable, there’s no reason for professionals to jump at the chance to ‘make friends.’ Many will question why you thought a union with them was apropos in the first place. Have you researched?
I recently read a great explanation of why doing your homework in a respective vertical is important. You see, it’s not about ‘just getting exposure.’ It’s about finding the right fit; it’s about making the right kind of relationships. I’m a writer. Is making a contact with NASA the right fit though NASA is an incredibly respected entity? Unless NASA wants me to help them with content marketing, the relationship is ill fitting. I’d be better off finding better niches, befitting to my networking wishes.
Check out Chris Dyson’s post on chasing footprints for linkbuilding. Knowing the right paths to venture is crucial. Next, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the personality of interest. That’s how you would normally go about making relations and conversation, right? Consider the alternative:
If you are going to pitch me, at least check out my freakin’ site first. Otherwise, I just hit the “delete” button. Sheesh!
You’ve heard of link building, the reason why many people approach others for immediate connections. Awesome, you’ve made a connection and got a valuable link. The link is good in and out itself; but, I liken the process as getting the opportunity to shake the Dali Lama’s hand but not engaging him in conversation.
The reason it’s so important to research relations above, is because like online marketing, relations take time to build momentum and strength. What’s better, getting one guest post link or cultivating a relationship, resulting in future guest spots, insight and guidance, introduction to other ‘doors’ of opportunity and personalities, etc? Lightning storms are pretty and exciting; but, the excitement is short-lived. I’d rather invest in my time in building lasting weather patterns.
Pro tip: PR (I think of it as peer relations) is not for everyone. Are you stuck in a connection rut? Do you wonder why you and yours are shunned by others? Something is off; you’re doing something wrong.
Do you see relationships merely as a means to an end? If so, PR is not for you. You don’t ‘get it.’ No matter how much work you put in, you’re likely missing an integral piece of the puzzle. PR is a practice for the genuine and forthright. You can roll your eyes all you want at these sentiments. Go ahead and try to prove me wrong. The following video is for those interested in building real relations with peers. All others need not apply.
Which camp does your approach fall under? I can tell (I’m just nice about openly id-ing the former group.) Don’t be foolish. Others, who are PR savvy, can ‘see’ your approach too.
Discussion has arisen in the world of link building of late, for good reason. Google made modifications; the search engine came down on suspicious linking practices. The purpose is to rid the Web of unrighteous rankers and unscrupulous link building practices.
I’ve read a number of posts, urging clients and brands to rethink linking. That’s great; I have experience in public relations, an aspect of link building many good practitioners encourage. I’m no Seth Godin; but, the union of link building and PR has knocked at my intuition’s door for years. Links are like votes. How do you get votes without a little socialization, facilitating exposure and understanding?
Why PR Wasn’t Always Needed
I see you. I understand how some brands got in trouble in the past; and, why some may be approached, to endure lost rankings or penalties in the future. It’s anxiety. Brands are anxious to compete in a competitive vertical.
Brands thought, “Gee, we don’t rank for major keywords right now. Natural progression takes time. How can we be impatient and get rankings now rather than later? Hmm…we can get links from anywhere, just for now…”
Many sought unscrupulous ways to build links for desired keywords. I’m not judging; however, many know the difference from a quality, natural link and one chased purely for rankings. Usually money is the only necessity to get lower-valued links; when you’re not gunning for quality, PR is not a need.
Regardless of your past or present philosophy on link building, understand that getting good-fit links is building to last. Other endeavors may not necessarily lay any lasting foundation at all; on the contrary, as we’re seeing, a short-term ‘fix’ can drastically breakdown future pursuits of success.
Why PR is a Need Now
PR is an inextricable need in organic link building these days. I hope it stays that way. My intuition tells me it will. In short, this is why PR matters when it comes to rethinking linking:
- Quality links come from quality sites. For instance, many news sites are high authority sites. Reporters and editors may randomly come across your URLs; but, don’t rely on chance. Be proactive. Find news sites covering your vertical. The former may do so in a general or niche manner, either way, this is good. What do you have of value to offer them?
- Quality links come from quality personalities. Many individuals write blogs or reference in-vertical material for readers. Do you engage in your vertical? If you don’t, bloggers (like the reporters and editors above) won’t just come across your material. However, if you regularly read blogs, comment, and show a social presence in your vertical, you can build relations and links in the process. What value can you offer bloggers and the community?
- Quality links go to authority sites. Rank is contingent on worth…to the browser, to the consumer. Other sites, bloggers, and people will draw attention to your URLs if the pages are of quality. Engagement in your respective community and engagement with consumers warrants effective PR. Effective PR doesn’t guarantee you have quality pages; but, it makes it likely you’ll be seen and gain ongoing attention. I’ll say it again; PR is a means to an end of greater exposure, but doesn’t guarantee the end itself. What value do you offer, warranting increased exposure?
Maybe this is the best way I can phrase it. Like rank, PR and link building gain a business more exposure. Getting more exposure is like your brand’s elevator pitch to the public; it helps get them to look your way and hear what you have to say. Are goods, services, and Web properties deserved of quality attention? That’s the first question to ask. Poor quality attracts the same brand of attention. Excellence begets excellent links and attention. Can you be excellent?
Chris Dyson – Optimize Your Link Building with Twitter
John Doherty – Link Branding: A Link Builder’s Marketing Mindset
The Internet has changed many things, the least of which how people get their news and consume information, as well as businesses promote themselves and connect with their audiences. For decades the work of PR has been kept to a handful of broad forms of media – print, TV, radio, and live in-person events. For a while now, the internet has been changing how businesses connect with their audiences in order to extend their message and purposefully engage. In short, more is possible, and the new functions that are emerging leverage the power and reach of the internet. Social media and SEO are two elements of online marketing that essentially change the landscape of PR and enable businesses to do achieve more by doing more.
These developments in the practice of PR directly mirror the evolution of audience behavior and activity, as more people are using social media and search engines to search for information on the web. The reality of today’s society is that people connect with each other on social platforms to share their lives and access the internet daily to satisfy much of their informational needs. For example, they search to find a local doctor, read reviews on that doctor’s practice, find directions there, as well as research a company before buying its products and services. This can be somewhat daunting for those adhering only strictly to traditional PR strategies and tactics, but for those willing to embrace it; new innovative methods provide great benefit and will soon become essential.
SEO Value in PR
One of the main elements that PR done through the Internet brings is the SEO value that in print mentions and backlinks achieve. In traditional media, placements are great but only go so far as the eyes that happen to be watching the particular news clip on the news channel where the client was featured or reading that article in the magazine. Press releases offer the same sort of limitation on visibility. In terms of exposure and visibility alone, material is available and can be seen for much longer periods of time online. The key is the backlink though.
Securing a backlink within the release or in the client mention/quote in an article from a reputable news outlet whose website has significant authority holds great SEO value. “This changes the game for PR, enabling businesses to accomplish dual goals in gaining exposure and getting a message out but also in establishing all-important SEO for a company’s online presence,” states John Borkowski, WebiMax’s PR Manager. “I see the field going more in this direction in the years to come, out of necessity, as it will become increasingly more important for businesses to shift focus to PR practices that leverage where people are spending so much time -on the internet.” This allows SEO agencies that also offer PR services to deliver additional value to their clients by achieving both PR goals while also increasing the ability of their clients’ webpages to rank higher in search engine results pages SERPs for particular search keywords.
For more information regarding SEO, public relations, and how they can be used in conjunction to support one another, reach out to me directly via email at email@example.com and twitter @ryanwbudd.
I watched a great online marketing video last week hosted by a popular CEO. He made excellent points throughout; yet, one message particularly hit home. He voiced that the real problem with startups and young brands was not producing quality services and products; the real issue was marketing, gaining attention, informing people of your offered goods and services.
Traditionally, brands pursued the ‘media’ (mainly news sources) to gain exposure. Before the boom of the Web, PR reps would pen press releases and make attempts to contact various sources, which would possibly run a related story. That was then; things are different for modern-day PR people. Sure, there is a lot more competition in each vertical; yet, it is easier to find and connect with news sources.
Consider implementing the following actions to build PR connections:
Twitter never sleeps. There are people tweeting quips and tips at all hours of day and night, making it difficult to read everything, but easy to pinpoint particular authors. It’s common for people to include author names (sometimes praise) along with and associated URL. I wouldn’t suggest going overboard with compliments; but, if you enjoyed reading a piece, it’s a nice sentiment for a writer to hear.
If you find an author, writing stories relatable to your vertical, endeavor at making a connection. Twitter makes it easy to get ‘to know’ someone a bit, as users tweet about business and personal life too, giving readers an opportunity to ascertain a ‘larger picture’ regarding online personalities.
Example: Yesterday, I read a story featuring Topps’ mobile applications. Topps is a traditional brand trying to make an impact in a new digital market. My boss, Ken Wisnefski, has knowledge of the baseball card industry and online marketing, potentially providing advice regarding Topps online pursuits. If I was the PR person, I could attempt to connect with the story’s author.
Facebook has been ‘around’ for some time now; but, businesspeople have really just began engaging the platform in the last couple of years, especially after introducing brand pages. Recently, Facebook has introduced timelines.
News sources are ready to make online impacts, much like traditional sources did in providing news for decades. Take a gander at some popular news sources in the industry; they are trying very hard to integrate into the digital age; the brands are using social media platforms like Facebook. Take a look at the timelines of a few. Can you see patterns in stories covered? What stories are receiving the most engagement by readers and social media followers? Those are likely to be stories pursued in the near future; or, you can at least gain a ‘feel’ for what kinds of stories are ‘hot’ and ‘trending’ at the moment.
Example: Let’s take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook timeline. I see from the timeline, the WSJ posted a video about good-guy CEOs. I could attempt to engage the author through the WSJ page; but, it’s not as personal; I’m likely to pursue an author via their own social profile. However, here I see the story has gotten a lot of shares, people are interested. Could I use this information to pen a ‘hot’ story for my own online property? Yes. Could I proactively ‘interview’ my CEO and pitch a possible follow-up to the story’s author? I could do that too. The timeline gives me a lot more information than PR people had years ago before the boom of the Web.
What do you think about using social media platform, Twitter? What are the advantages? What are brand expectations? What’s the end? What means are employed in getting there? Are you gaining a lot of followers? Are consumers impressed by the number of followers? Is it about engagement or branding games?
However, being diligently observant, patrolling tweeting streams for weeks and months, I’ve noticed some maneuvers, which are not facilitating great brand-consumer relations. Are you leveraging tweeting and mistreating? I hope not.
The Back-Turned Un-follow
Brands have freedom leveraging Twitter accounts. Follow and un-follow at will. Sometimes the un-follow makes sense; a follower may turn into a troll, with negative intentions. They can be un-followed, blocked, or reported.
However, some brands follow others for the sole purpose of improving onlooker perception. Surely, if your brand has a lot of followers, it must be highly authoritative, right? We see the same genuine dynamic take place in the SERPs, correct? That was sarcastic.
Just as brands ‘game’ rankings, some attempt to game the number of followers, liberally following others, hoping the ‘golden rule’ is returned, only to ironically drop followers to increase the contrast between those following and followed.
Tweet at will; you’re entitled. However, think about this. What’s more powerful, a number of followers or how your brand engages followers, people, (possible) consumers?
‘Thanks for the Follow’ Spam
When someone thanks me, I assume they’re expressing genuine gratitude. I hardly get a real-life friend approach me with a handshake, thank me for my friendship, and then parlay the scenario into asking me to be a part of some pyramid scheme. I’m not making any blind assumptions about your brand; but, if you really want to express gratitude then offer something other than an advertisement for your services.
Warning: shameful use of cute dog to prove point ahead
Would your brand truly like to thank followers? Rather than establish automated, spam-like, ‘thanks for the follow’ messages, offer your best blog post, a free white paper, a list of great resources, etc. It could even be as simple as link to a funny video, post, quote, or infograph. Have you seen what PointBlankSEO does when you sign up to his RSS? It’s unique, making one feel appreciated.
The High-Brow No Reply
So your brand has stepped into the social media ring of Twitter. Note the use of ‘social’ in the description. Have you snubbed followers with a high-browed, stone-faced reply? Please allow me to place such maneuvers in a real-life setting. It’s kind of akin to entering a conversation, consisting of a number of people (like being in a social sphere, if you will). Imagine you’re engaged in a social media platform, asking someone a question or making a comment, and having them…say nothing back as if you are some ‘ghost twitterer.’ Do you do that in real life? It must be lonely in your world.
I understand people use Twitter for all sorts of selfish reasons; yet, ensure your brand is being social when using social media accounts. I referenced treating followers well in my gentleman branding post yesterday. Make time for followers; kindness is a timeless fashion.
Would you like to learn more about social media usage? Read more of our WebiMax or SEOservices blog or read more about available social media services. Finding the right search engine optimization service is hugely important. Read how to find a great SEO service via our free white paper.