Corporate partnerships, event sponsorships, patron members, and research project clients are sometimes the income staple of industry associations. While these affiliations bode well for the budget, the associated reputational risks sometimes outweigh the financial benefit.
Reputation isn’t based on internal intentions, but rather on perceptions formed by outsiders. These perceptions are guided in part by both factual and anecdotal information, and influenced further by each individual’s convictions and experiences.
As people habitually make decisions based on subjective perceptions rather than objective truth, the reputation of one brand is easily transferred to an affiliated party. This transference of reputation might hold great danger for the lesser-known brand – usually the association.
Few realise the immense reputational influence of affiliations on industry associations. In our experience assisting associations with their PR and reputation management, we’ve identified two major reputation dangers that associations must actively manage:
DANGER 1: The association is siding with wrongdoers
During a recent national crisis an association was accused by mass media of protecting a public sector agency. This accusation was based merely on the membership status of the agency (as listed on the website of the association). Even though there was no truth to substantiate the accusation, the reputation of the association was still called into question.
There are also numerous reports on social media and review sites such as HelloPeter.com that link associations with members accused of less desirable conduct. Most readers of those sites will immediately form a perception of the association as a whole. This perception will not be based on the actions of the association, but simply on the mention of the connection between the accused member and the association.
There is no need for associations to hide the affiliation with members or sponsors that do not have a sterling reputation. It is however of crucial importance that the terms of the relationship be available immediately and in language that clarifies the position of the association. Merely stating the benefits a member or sponsor is entitled to isn’t enough. It needs to be clear that awarding membership or affiliation status does not imply or award any form of endorsement of products, services, or conduct. In addition, contact details for information requests placed on the same page as the membership listing, can be very helpful in providing information to guide perceptions.
DANGER 2: The association is influenced by a specific corporate brand
The active and ongoing participation of a small number of corporate brands might seem like a dream come true for associations that depend on sponsorships as an integral revenue stream. The danger arises when one brand finds it easier to participate more often, and on a larger scale than others.
Seeing a specific corporate logo displayed every year across a variety of material or events produced by an association can create a perception that the association is co-branded, and therefore co-managed.
These assumptions are usually raised when least expected, and – contrary to popular belief – responding with the facts might not make much difference to the assumption. It is more effective to proactively steer clear from fueling assumptions by allowing feedback and insight from various viewpoints to highlight potential areas of risk and guide decisions.
The best longterm strategy to manage this particular danger is to ensure that the team promoting sponsorship has a substantial database to promote to, rather than relying on the recurring involvement of only a few. While repetitive support is the easiest to secure, the reputational risk might end up costing more.
Many successful people have famously hailed reputation as their greatest asset. It is however one of the hardest things for associations to manage as it takes a single minded focus on weighing up financial gains with potential reputational damage. It is for this reason that the reputation management of an association can not be left solely to the marketing department, but needs to be driven by strategic leadership.
Getting started with promoting your business on social media is similar to starting on the journey to a healthy lifestyle.
You might be tempted to follow any number of quick-start plans and silver bullets that promise great results with little to no work. The only way to meaningful change is however through continued focused work and accepting that results might be slower than you hoped.
The good news for those willing to let go of comfortable habits is that once you get started, you’ll find that it’s really not that hard to stick to your resolutions.
Start with what you have
One of the most common mistakes when getting started is to focus too much on research and treatments and quick fixes, and not enough time doing the work needed. Waiting for a special date to start – like New Year or a product launch – and placing your trust in special tools only delays the inevitable. Starting with what you have and know, and learning as you progress is a much better idea.
Create a plan based on what you experience
It is not enough to just “do something” if you want to achieve long term results. While doing something is better than doing nothing, a comprehensive longer term plan will keep your efforts on track.
Start with a simple plan that specifies what you want to achieve, the tools and help you have available, and how often you can spend time on it. Keep in mind that regular, smaller activities have been shown to be more successful and easier to keep up.
Put in what you want to get out
To form new habits you need to take the change seriously. In the beginning you will need to think about it all the time so that nothing to distracts you from your goals. As new habits replace old ones it will become easier to add more challenging goals to your plan. Progress is completely up to you; what you put in will reflect in what you get out.
Choose your support system carefully
It will be a lot easier to achieve your goals if the people that surround you are positive and encouraging. Build a support system that allows you to ask questions and get experienced answers or sensible dialogue. If you decide to get someone dedicated to help you, make sure that the person really wants to help, and is not just doing it because it’s their job.
It’s easy to do something new when your enthusiasm is still high but old habits usually threaten to take over. When this happens, don’t give up. The process of change might be slow in the beginning, but it gets easier and quicker as you continue.
Together with your overall goal, set smaller short term goals, and celebrate those goals once you’ve achieved them. These small celebrations will for a long way in motivating you and those around to keep up the good work.
Don’t let go of your vision just because of a few (or a lot) of apparent failures. Remember that any progress towards your goals is building a solid foundation for a successful future.
If you’ve read anything about content marketing over the past two years, you would’ve noticed that the role and conversion success of video have increased exponentially.
A few of the most important statistics:
Producing a video for your business used to be an expensive affair involving numerous experts. These days, with digital developments and changed customer expectations, having a few relatively inexpensive tools can quickly set you on your way to joining the video revolution.
In exploring how to create videos that meet the expectations of our clients, and myself, I’ve learned that while the equipment isn’t as expensive anymore, there are still a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
When recording a face-to-camera message, make sure the interviewee has received and rehearsed the script well before the interview. Don’t rely on a teleprompter, cue cards or a rushed rehearsal on the day. A teleprompter or cue cards can help them remember the message, but viewers always notice when the message seems unfamiliar to the person delivering it on camera. Reading from a document with only a few glances at the recording equipment is of course a huge no-no.
Before you get started, explain the recording process to the interviewee. Warn them against habitual movements or expressions that could be distracting to viewers. Wringing hands, bouncing legs, saying “um” before every answer, or even sniffing, are a few examples. If the interviewee does fall into these habitual traps during the recording, allow them to finish their answer, then remind them of the habit, and redo the question and answer. It might be uncomfortable to point it out, but leaving it in the recording will result in viewers getting distracted, rather than focusing on the core message.
The interviewer has to brief spokesperson on how long final clip will be. This will help the interviewer to decide which pieces of information to relay, and which to leave out for the purpose of including the strongest message in the final clip.
Recording time will generally be much longer than clip, as the interviewee needs a chance to place information in context, and the interviewer needs to obtain enough information to be able to create a concise but fully representative story. Allow up to 60 minutes recording time for a final clip of 5 minutes.
If the interviewee is traveling to the recording space, he/she must add 30-40 minutes to their regular traveling time to allow for contigencies, finding the recording space, freshening up, getting their heart rate and breath back to normal, and having audio set up and tested.
The interviewer must guide the interviewee to give short, concise sound bytes summarising his/her point(s), rather than long statements including superfluous information. Interviewees tend to focus on formulating the best answer from the vast amount of knowledge they have. Interviewers should ensure that the most pertinent information can be included in short clips that can be used in a variety of video formats specified by the various social media platforms.
Have a glass of water available for the interviewee. Being on camera is stressful for most people, and they might experience an unusually dry mouth as a result.
Do not rely on overhead fixtures to provide lighting for the recording. Not only will it cast unflattering shadows on the interviewee’s face, but overhead lights rarely provide the amount of light needed for high quality video. If you don't have standalone video lights, find a large window (without blinds, curtains or burglar bars in front of it) and place the interviewee diagonally in front of it. Natural daylight filtered through a window is some of the best lighting for video.
In the setup used for TV interviews the camera and interviewee is positioned facing each other, with the interviewer seated to the side of camera. The interviewee doesn't look at the camera, but rather at the interviewer. For more direct messages, facing the camera is absolutely fine, but avoid the “boring talking head” syndrome.
Don’t stop and restart the camera after errors. Shoot continuously and edit the recording afterwards. If the interviewing pair needs to redo a bit, just let them pause for a view seconds before starting again; this will give the video editor enough room to edit out the flubs.
Record 5 second pauses between questions and answers, rather than having the interviewee answer the moment the question has been asked. During these pauses the interviewee needs to remain absolutely quiet and as still as possible. This will help the video editing process go a lot quicker and smoother.
Remind the interviewee to stay calm and speak slowly.
Avoid recording distracting background noises by warning everyone in the vicinity of the recording space that you are busy with a recording. Even through a closed door regular day-to-day activities like conversations in a hallway or cupboard doors closing can get picked up by microphones. Typing on a keyboard during an interview can also be picked up by microphones and create sound disturbances in the recording. If you need to take notes, try to do so the old fashioned way … with pen and paper.
Switch cellphones to airplane mode to ensure there are no electronic sound disturbances from either ringtones or signals on any wireless audio equipment.
Don't allow unnecessary people in the recording space as they might be a visual distraction to the person speaking.
If you’re interested in starting to create videos for your business, this blog post by The Visual Cube has an overview of the types of businesses that benefit the most from video marketing, and things to keep in mind when you get started.
If you need help with creating a short, sharp message to get your key points across, chat to us to see how we can help.