The road to prestige: 5 steps towards a better reputation

A funny thing happens when you start asking about the concept of reputation: almost every answer will say, in a way or another, that reputation is everything. It’s not everyday that you see a majority of people agreeing upon something, but reputation seems to carry a different gravitas in our heads.

Of course, reputation is important, particularly for medium and large companies. In a world where a mere rumor can bring down stock prices, reputation multiplies its value. Surprisingly, a staggering number of companies bump into problems at the moment of building (and keeping) their reputations strong. Why does this happen?

To begin with, many companies have been around for decades, and in some cases for centuries. Along the course of history, things change: what yesterday was accepted – or overlooked – might not pass today’s legal or ethical standards. And here lies the reason behind the hardships of maintaining a good reputation: perception tends to change faster than anything else, and not every company can keep up to rapidly shifting scenarios.

Perception, however, isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to reputation: facts are just as important. In disregard of what media and audiences perceive, companies shouldn’t incur in unlawful behavior or foul play. Wrongdoing is nothing but fertile soil for potential PR disasters, and hiding behind ancient (or unnoticed) practices won’t be of much help. But what are the steps toward a good reputation? We’ve compiled a short guide with some important questions and tips:

  1. Who’s your primary audience and what do they care about? Logic above everything else: a company must start building its reputation by reaching out to the audiences that stand right by it. These audiences are often composed by customers, suppliers and external contractors. Being connected to the company in a way or another, they’ll notice the slightest of changes before anyone else does.
  1. Secondary audiences: measuring impact and weight. Secondary audiences are defined by people that might get interested about your company, but aren’t necessarily attached in any ways to it. This group encompasses journalists, competitors and regulatory authorities among others. There aren’t many grey areas when dealing with this type of audiences: if you do bad, you’re bound to get bad press or sanctions that will affect reputation. If you do good, the company’s reputation will be boosted.
  1. Facts so lovely. When our agency receives a reputation project, we often put ourselves in the skin of investigators. It’s simple: in order to deliver results, we must know everything. Bad habits, problems, legal aspects, shameful acts, everything. Minimizing wrong practices or hiding facts is a terrible thing to do: whatever happens (or happened in the past) must be traced, known and actioned upon.
  1. Time to act. Working towards a better reputation is always an exciting thing to do, albeit not always possible. In occasion, damage control is a more urgent need – nobody wants to call attention upon themselves when there’s a skeleton rotting in the closet, right? Nevertheless, companies should always aim for better reputations, and that means they’ll need to move forward in a way or another.

To conclude, it’s good to note that reputation can be compared to a living entity that, from time to time, can detach itself from the company’s reality. In addition – as bigger companies know – it’s practically impossible to keep everyone happy all the time. Hecklers and critics are part of the game, and that’s fine; as long as a company can rely on facts to defend itself from accusations, things will run smoothly on the reputation department.

Marketing for small businesses Vs Marketing for startups: the key differences

Startups and small businesses may look alike, but they’re not the same.

One of the hardest things about marketing is to effectively differentiate between trends and good practices. While most professions deal with their share of trends, in the world of marketing they’ve become ubiquitous: the supposedly latest/hottest never fails to show up on our news feed pretty much every day, leading to a number of curious situations.

For example, when a trend grows strong enough for the word to spread around beyond the marketing forums, we sometimes get specific demands that not always relate to the solution a situation demands. Moreover, when a trend grows strong enough and becomes itself a new reality – in the form of an industry, a culture or both – things can get really confusing. This exactly is what happened with the startup scene and the reality of small businesses, and here comes the first big difference:

  1. Startups deal with much more pressure than small-businesses. Startups, by definition, need to achieve a certain level of demand to exist. They may get by with external funding, but that’s a situation that won’t last forever. On the other hand, many small businesses have been there for a long time and rely on a well-established customer base to survive and thrive. In terms of marketing, startups tend to require higher investments and bolder strategies to reach their goals.  

The startup ecosystem is an exciting thing see. First of all, it grew immense during the past decade, exceeding everyone’s expectations beyond imagination. A massive number of ideas came out of it: thousands became trends, and an important number of those proved themselves strong enough to outgrow that label. Marketing itself has seen the sprawling benefits of the startup culture, with thousands of new businesses investing in communication strategies, PR campaigns and growing tactics. The new scenario also uncovered new problems that required new solutions:

  1. Startups are PR-intensive. A large number of startups work in advanced, complex and lesser-known fields. In this scenario, communication comes up as a top priority: if a startup fails to be clear about what it does and who it does it for, it simply fails. Small businesses, on the other hand, often aim at more stable scenarios and in terms of communication, give more room to creativity.  

Given the similarities that exist between startups and small businesses, we started getting weird requests from both sides. Things is, startups and small businesses may look alike, but they’re not the same. Ultimately, there are differences that make them very different entities. So where does this leave us?

  1. Startups are where good practices come to die. You’ve seen it before. The startup with the cool kids wearing custom t-shirts and trying to push its message all over the place. This is actually a good practice if you’re a player in the catering business, but if you’re into the tailor-made embedding software biz, it’s a total waste of time and money. Startups try to be unique, and that’s a good thing; however, if you want to be unique, expect unique communication problems as well.

In short, small businesses usually relate to what works. A marketer will know how to kickstart a good marketing campaign for a small business – basically because we’ve been there before. Startups require a different approach – one that sustains and proves that any given startup is actually different from everyone else.

Reasons why your brand needs more than one story

The rule is to never put your eggs in one basket.

As strategists, we tend to calculate risks on a daily basis. In order to mitigate risk without losing thrust and creativity, we’ve found out that a simple rule can do a lot for both our jobs and the brands we represent. The rule is to never put your eggs in one basket. This might be one of the oldest tricks in the bag of a financial advisor, but what does it have to do with branding?

Working in marketing and PR isn’t a mathematically precise endeavor where 2+2 always makes 4. Despite all the measuring tools, tracking apps and data crunching software there’s always room for a surprise element to come up and while unexpected results are by all means rare, they do exist. When a surprise comes up as a good one champagne is poured, but if things go wrong…well, nobody really wants that.

Generally speaking, brands today rely on (mostly) two things: values and stories. As we’ve shown before, values act as cornerstones for a brand. Stories, on the other hand, are the reflections of the brand’s values. They can take up many different forms in relation to a number of variables – and as long as they stay in line with the core values, that’s OK. The curious thing about this, however, is the number of brands that tend to rely on one story at a time. While we can’t fully explain the reasons behind this kind of strategies, we can provide reasons to explain why having more than one story at a time is good for a brand.

  1. Diversity is a very real thing. Both individuals and groups can be defined not by one, but by a countless number of stories. For example, a person can’t be defined solely for the job position it holds. That very same person can be a loving mother, a Star Wars fan and an ultra-competitive gamer, all at the same time. The same principle works for brands, and it’s something people can actually relate to. It’s up to us and the brands we work with to define which stories are worth to be shared and why.
  1. The potential of authenticity. In order to keep a brand close to its audience, we need to make it authentic and real. To illustrate what ‘good’ authenticity means let’s take a look at the case of GoPro. They impulse their audiences to capture and share their worlds, transforming the thousands of user stories into GoPro’s stories.  
  1. The power of surprise. Get inspired by your brand’s values and be a provider of good surprises. The brands that dedicate resources to providing this kind of experiences to its audiences (think Facebook’s ‘Friends Video’ tool) usually get good responses.  

To summarize, a brand that surprises with diverse stories in an authentic way is nothing but a healthy brand – and will likely be perceived that way by its audiences.  

Lead the way: 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas

Today we’re introducing 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas. It’s time to start getting those eyeballs!

Brands today are fighting a new kind of battle. To be precise, the battle itself isn’t entirely new: what has radically changed is the arena where the battle takes place. The constant expansion and evolution of the internet’s many ecosystems (each one with their own boundaries, trends, do’s and don’ts) are nothing but a challenging panorama for modern-day brands. We’re in the middle of an increasingly bigger scenario – rich, diverse and seemingly infinite, but also more complex than anything we’ve seen before.

Like every battle ever fought on an arena, there’s a prize to be won here. For brands, the ultimate prize is nothing else than the customers’ attention. Of course, every brand has its own set of goals, but none of these will become real unless the company succeeds at grabbing people’s attention. Once there, things tend to go smoother. Today we’re introducing 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas. It’s time to start getting those eyeballs!

  1. Share your brand’s knowledge (and please, make it interesting). The reason why sharing works great is that people usually listens to what experts say. Recently, the Scottish brewery BrewDog became news for sharing its recipes for free, online. They received massive attention by sharing their knowledge in the right moment. The same principle works for (almost) every brand that does their thing out there.
  1. Talk about what you know. Similar to sharing, but not quite the same. A brand’s knowledge often goes beyond the products and services they’re selling / promoting. A good example lies within the companies that excel at outdoors clothing and gear. People expect them to know about waterproof fabrics and stuff like that – which is about right, but not the whole picture. Companies like the North Face are nature experts, and talk about what they know from an informed perspective. In other words: the best way to start the conversation is by starting with the brand’s stronger arguments.
  1. Experiences over giveaways. Giveaways generate a lot of ‘false leads’. In other words, people caring for an instant at best. On the other hand, giveaways can be integrated into larger experiences that aren’t exclusively focused on the gift. Regular giveaways feel meaningless, while experiences are remembered in disregard of winning the gift or not.
  1. Be part of your community. This doesn’t mean mingling with the neighbors or going for drinks with the competition. In a broader sense, a community is a group of people (or organizations) that share something in common. The key is to identify the common ground that exists between the brand and a community. Affinity can be a lot of things: from design patterns and music to beer preferences and humanitarian causes. Being an active part of a community not only is rewarding, but also a great way to build bridges between the brand and the members of such community.
  1. Maintain your communication channels active – and keep’em real. Two final notes here. First, seize what Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and so many other platforms) give. Secondly, be real. Speak a language that your customers can relate to, don’t over promise and be sincere about what your brand does, is and thinks. A brand that maintains open and active channels while speaking the same language of their customers will always be closer to them than every other competitor who doesn’t do this.

A million screens await: why creativity is a PR campaign’s #1 asset

There’s always two sides to every story, and digital PR is no exception. Today, we’re going to talk about a major PR channel: videos. Nowadays, video channels are more popular than ever before, and platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo are being added as another layer of marketing for companies.

In terms of PR, the bright side of the video-sharing platforms is made of the many benefits that these offer: put together, they hold a +2 billion people audience per month. Also, they offer tools that make performance easy to follow up and give many customization options to campaign managers. All good things. On the other side, there’s no such thing as easy victories: in these platforms, content is uploaded at astonishing rates, competition is merciless and attention spans are limited.

Given that the potential audience for a PR campaign can be counted on the billions, a challenge-abundant scenario should not appear as totally absurd. The key, however, lies within choices. When planning a PR campaign, there’s nothing more important than learning to pick the right battles.

Poorly chosen battles aren’t really news. Day after day we get to see multi-million video productions fail against homemade videos, grandiloquent causes forgotten due to weak messages. While it’s great to count on some extra money when developing a campaign, money itself won’t come in the rescue. Above all the millions, way past an excellent media plan and beyond every possible celebrity backup, the most important thing in a PR campaign remains to be creativity.

Creativity is the main ingredient for a successful PR campaign. The benefits of creativity go beyond the message itself. For example, the famous ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ relied on a creative concept that reduced production costs to nearly zero: people were making and sharing their own videos. It was, at the same time, one of the most successful and cheap PR campaigns ever.

Creativity is virtually limitless, except for one thing: every creative effort must be aligned with the brand’s values – otherwise, it wouldn’t make much sense. The Ice Bucket Challenge showed how a campaign can be aligned with a charitable cause and the core values of an organization.

On the other hand, if everything goes well and success is attained, the campaign will be scrutinized by the public. This means that at least a portion of the audience will connect the dots that separate what the campaign says from what the brand does and says (and what has done and said in the past), looking for contradictions. There aren’t many brands that want to be found between a rock and a hard place, and the only way to avoid such situation is to remain faithful to the values.

To conclude, it’s good to clarify that while creativity is the most important aspect of a campaign, it’s far from being foolproof. It will not guarantee low production costs or rapid viralization. However, creativity will provide alternatives and options that, given the ultra competitive context, can make the difference that a brand desires. That alone is worth the creative effort.

4 questions to evaluate your brand’s online presence

Nowadays, every brand – big or small – needs a consistent online presence. An articulated, strategically planned, cost-effective presence is the ideal scenario, but not always the case. Reasons why a carefully developed online presence is necessary are multiple and fairly obvious:

  • Increasing the brand’s value
  • Boost revenue
  • Improve brand-audiences communication
  • Get valuable data from interactions

On the bright side, it’s good to notice that most brands make – or have made – significant efforts to build their online presences, though the results tend to be more diverse than successful. While there’s no common ground for evaluating pure success, we’ve made a small questionnaire to help shine a light on a brand’s online presence status – assuming they have one, of course. Here it goes:


  1. What do you know about your audiences? How did they start following you? Did you get them through paid campaigns or because of your awesomeness? Can you define your audiences using real data? Knowing who you’re dealing with makes things a lot easier for everyone, trust us.
  1. What are the interactions like? How do your audiences react to what you post? What percentage of your follower base interacts with your posts? Do they communicate with you? What are they saying? What are you saying? Reaping the benefits of great interactions requires both a strategy and an eye for detail to cover spontaneous situations. While the first can be defined beforehand, the second must be trained.
  1. Is there a strategy? Are you following a plan or just going where the wind blows? How is it working? What would you change?
  1. Is data driving your decisions? Information – in the form of hard data – should drive at least a portion of the things you do. A/B testing is a relatively inexpensive way to gather useful data about your online actions – from eyeballs to conversions, it shows what works and what doesn’t. Also, following up on the brand’s multiple actions – i.e. emailing campaigns, content uploads, responses – is a valid way to improve the quality of its online presence.

The questions above are useful to get an initial picture of the brand’s online presence. In addition, keeping track of related variables is a good habit and it will save both time and money in the future. Remember: asking the right questions is the first step towards the the right path.

Better safe than sorry: research is your campaign’s parachute

When it comes to developing new digital strategies, the dot-com bubble should always act as a guiding light.


Before the explosion of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s, people were über-optimistic about the internet. The sky was the limit, and everyone involved felt invincible. Plainly speaking, during the second half of the ‘90s, websites became hot. Eventually, this statement proved itself right: websites were actually hot, but the hype surrounding them proved to be much hotter. As a result of distorted expectations, distorted investments were made and when collection day finally arrived, reality landed a hard punch on the digital business’ face. While some digital brands survived (and eventually thrived), thousands went straight down the drain.

Things are different now. Unlike 1997, people nowadays know a lot more about the internet. Developers, investors and users have come to terms with the ever-growing, fast-changing digital realm, and arguably understand that while things evolve fast, ‘maturity’ is a slippery, unpractical concept to rely on. Of course, blind bets over so-called ‘unicorn companies’ do happen here and there, but knowledge and data carry more weight now than they did 20 years ago. In this era of constant novelty, hype must be backed by real data. That’s why research is a must when it comes to plan a digital campaign, product launch or strategy.

When it comes to developing new digital strategies, the dot-com bubble should always act as a guiding light. It still works as a perfect example of how the ‘hype driver’ can hurt a company and the relationship with consumers. While the scale is different, we often come across examples of hype-driven ideas – for example, brands telling us that they want to develop a strategy that involves Snapchat, because ‘millions (internet) users are into it’. Thing is, Snapchat – or Facebook, Instagram and whatever you can think of – doesn’t work in a vacuum. Moreover, platforms like this live for an opposite concept: they are networks, all functioning under different sets of rules and offering different possibilities in multiple scenarios at the same time. What’s good for a brand might be terrible for another, and what proved right yesterday might be over now. Deciding to get into something for the sake of hype and popularity is nothing but repeating late ‘90s mistakes. And this is when research comes up as a valuable player.

We’re not stating that research would’ve prevented the bubble, nor that it will inoculate brands against future mistakes. But it will definitely reduce the risks associated to the (many) novelty items and moves that are now available (and growing). That’s the main reason why brands should at least give it a go before making up their minds over something. For us, it’s an obligation to be skeptic, to analyze the options that will lead to a great solution. We can’t afford to bandwagon whatever’s hot this week. As history shows, it’s not good for business.