In Professional Development

By Janelle Beaber, FPRA Southwest Florida Chapter Programs Chair

On July 9th, the Southwest Florida FPRA Chapter had the privilege of hearing from Dr. Christine Wright-Isak, a PR specialist who has achieved national recognition as a branding and messaging expert, developing communications for brands such as Colgate, DuPont, KFC, Jell-O, and Dr. Pepper.

Dr. Wright-Isak’s presentation, “The Impact of Digital Communications on Advancing Your Brand,” shared some “big brand” insights that were usable by both small local brands, as well as large professional brands.  She provided specifics on how to implement the brand strategies in a world of digital communications.

Dr. Chris, as she is known by college students, says, “Brands are reputations and media—traditional or new digital—are no more and no less than communications vehicles that should be designed to convey the reputation you intent to live up to.”  She suggests that brand symbols label clusters of meaning which result from consumer experiences, observations of each other, brand actions and word of mouth communication.  Consumers use brands to express their personal lifestyle, as well as “read” brand choices as indicators of other peoples’ social position.

With the importance of branding a product and showcasing the intended attributes of the product, it is extremely important that this information is effectively communicated to the intended audience.  Dr. Chris believes this is done in a variety of ways.  First and foremost, she argues that communicating effectively means using the proper media channel to deliver the message.  The delivery medium says a lot about the brand, and so the medium used should be carefully considered.  In addition, brands should be communicated using multiple media, including TV, radio, print, and video and social sites.

As for the Digital Media component, Dr. Chris insists that you must consider the commitment you are making.  This form of media is time consuming and takes continual engagement with the audience.  It requires resources to monitor and respond quickly, and can’t be a “one-night stand.”

Dr. Chris reviewed statistics on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and suggested that companies take a good look at the benefits of each before committing to them.  For example, 56% of posts on Twitter are ignored, so what makes a company so intriguing that they have something interesting to post every hour?  She suggests that Twitter is mainly a celebrity site, and does not recommend a majority of businesses wasting valuable time and resources to maintain a Twitter account.

To conclude, Dr. Chris reminded the group that the actions a brand takes to participate in the life of the consumer should be constantly evaluated.  Communications are actions too, and the message content and delivery mode says a lot about the brand and what it wants to portray.  When undertaking a social media plan, the business must work hard to engage their audience and develop relationships.  It is these relationships that will ultimately sell the brand, and keep consumers coming back for more!

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