My career has been in Public Relations and reputation management, having led the internal and external Communications functions for a range of large corporate organisations. You can read a full breakdown of my corporate positions on my LinkedIn page.
After working for several different organisations in both the public and private sector in the UK, I have learnt a lot about how a business can effectively communicate with their audiences, whether that is other businesses, consumers, the community or employees.
In all of these businesses, my focus has been on protecting and improving the brand through PR, publicity and communications.
As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon says, your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. Once you establish a brand, it is essential that a business provides a consistency of service in order to build a positive reputation. Having a good reputation is invaluable – it is what helps you to stand apart from your competitors, it is what entices people to want to come and work for you. It helps to establish trust because people get to know what they can expect…that consistency which grows a following of people that come back again and tell others to follow you.
Recently the media has been full of organisations facing reputation crises, with Uber, Harvey Weinstein, Oxfam and Save the Children to name just a few. The world expects responsibility in a way that it never has before which is why 81% of FTSE 100 companies now employ their own in-house Communications expert. These people are focused on building trust with their audiences, developing the brand and ensuring any business risks to reputation are prepared for and well managed.
Bill Gates famously said that if he was down to his last dollar he would spend it on PR. Why? Because it is more powerful having a third party like the Media say something positive about you than it is saying something yourself. The latter is just advertising or marketing.
The Media has changed a lot over the last two decades from when I used to fax over press releases to the newsdesk in my first job! Nowadays how we consume our media is getting ever more fragmented, we are inundated with messages from the moment we wake up to the moment we finally put down our smartphones and go to sleep. People are getting their news in bite-sized chunks via social media and cutting through the noise is harder to achieve than ever.
This has been the massive shift in the last 5 years, with mass-media marketing gradually being replaced by audience interaction and relevance to their lives. Digital engagement, social media and influencer communications are not going anywhere. To thrive, brands have to work harder than ever on having a good reputation. Communications drives business value in so many ways… building trust through engagement, creating internal cultures, listening to what people want and mitigating crises.
The world is constantly evolving and changing how it communicates but one thing that isn’t going to change anytime soon is the need for good communications. Whilst I am helping businesses to achieve that, I am happy.