PR and Reputation Management

By: Sarah Copeland

Throughout this past semester, many of my classes have brought in guest speakers that talked about reputation management. After about the third speaker, I got the message: reputation is incredibly important. But whose reputation? Well, the reputation of just about anything and everything.

If a company does not have a good reputation then its business will be damaged. Anything from the quality of a product to the quality of a service is judged by the public. No matter where you work, your company or your brand needs reputation management.

A successful company is a familiar and popular company with loyal customers. Have you ever heard of top-of-mind awareness? Top-of-mind awareness is like asking what smartphone is the best and having someone respond with iPhone. It may not be true but it’s what most people would say because everyone knows about Apple products and its reputation.

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So how do you control a company, a product or a brand’s reputation? Recently, my PR courses have been working on communication plans to enhance the success of certain clients. The main issue with both these clients has been awareness. Not enough people care about what our clients do and that is a problem. Our challenge? Raise the brand familiarity and positive reputation among customers through PR methods.

The public relations aspect of reputation is important during the campaign. Key messages are created and an end goal is established all in the effort to reach internal and external audiences. The goal? Enhancing the awareness and understanding of a brand to increase its credibility and top-of-mind awareness.

There are two main broad-reach platforms that can be used in PR campaigns to help build and maintain reputation. They are media and social media. Social media is now customer service central. Why call a customer service line when social media is available to post all your disgruntled feelings about a product? Ever notice how fast companies respond when you post something negative about their services? It’s uber-fast or at least it should be.

Social media is a hotspot for companies to build their reputation. They can increase engagement with their customers and also manage disappointed customers at the same time. All they have to do is post a helpful comment to a disgruntled customer to help fix the problem. If they do it well then they have one more loyal customer to spread positive WOM about that company.

Next time a product lets you down, go to social media and complain and see how long it takes the company to reply to try and fix the problem. It’s all about reputation management in order to maintain loyal customers and a positive top-of-mind awareness.





Leibowitz, C. (2014, June 02). Branding & Public Relations Go Hand-in-Hand – Branding & PR. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from

Mikacova, L., & Gavlakova, P. (2014, January 24). The Role of Public Relations in Branding. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from

Pearce, C. (2011, May 11). Why PR is good for branding. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from

Walkden, L. (2013, June 19). Brand Reputation Management: Your Seven-Point Game Plan. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from




One BIG Crisis

By: Sarah Copeland

Last night I watched The Martian for the first time. It was a very interesting movie but the whole time I kept thinking: Dang that PR team must have been working REALLY hard. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, and without me spoiling anything, all you really need to know is that there was a really bad storm on Mars and during the evacuation NASA basically left an astronaut stranded on a desolate planet. That accident is hard to explain to the public because that is one BIG “whoops”.

martian pic 1Image Source

So NASA basically had to do two things. First, they had to find a way to rescue their abandoned astronaut. Second, they had to handle the press asking a range of question about NASA procedures and missions. Originally NASA and the media thought that the astronaut was dead and therefore NASA was dealing with giving a statement about how awful it was to lose a member of their team but it is a well-known risk of space travel. It became a worse situation when they found out he was alive.

So why was this a crisis? Well, when you accidentally leave an astronaut on another planet with limit resources and no plans to go back to the planet for another four years, you have a big problem. The first best practice of PR I saw was when they found out he was alive. NASA did not try and hide the fact they mistakenly announced the death of their astronaut. Instead, NASA released the information within 24 hours along with a statement. Then they worked on a rescue mission. This shows basic crisis communication stages of identifying a crisis and working out ways to fix the crisis while staying transparent.

I know this is more of a sci-fi film but I honestly think it would be great for PR students who are especially interested in crisis communication. There are plenty of instances where the NASA director didn’t use his best judgement and had to take the fall when it came to informing the public of failures. This movie didn’t always show the backlash from the public but you definitely saw the difficulties NASA went through when deciding how to handle their crisis.

Of course, there are ranges of difficulty when it comes to handling crises. This one just so happened to be massive and in the form of an interesting movie. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use a good movie to talk about PR.


Bernstein, J. (2015). The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications | Bernstein Crisis Management. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from

Clawson Freeo, S. K. (n.d.). Crisis Communication Plan. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from

The Martian – Zone 6. (2016). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from

What is crisis communications? – SHIFT Communications PR Agency – Boston | New York | San Francisco | Austin. (2013, April 02). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from