Candidly Speaking with Adam Brooks

August 18, 2020

Generating and maintaining positive brand publicity takes strategy, know-how and (often) a lot of patience. Senior Advisor Adam Brooks shares how Candor helps clients protect their good names.

When it comes to helping clients generate positive publicity, Senior Advisor Adam Brooks has been around the block a time or two. As a former journalist, Adam speaks the language — he knows how to attract media attention, how to increase trust amongst audiences and how to craft professional, relatable messaging.

The first step in building a great brand reputation is knowing what to say. The Candor team chatted with Adam about handling negative sentiment, the importance of focused communications and why “PR practitioners as spin doctors” is a myth.

Candor: What should brands be aware of when trying to create positive publicity?

Adam: It’s important to consider what matters to potential audiences, not necessarily what matters internally at a business. For example, companies often want to share news releases about internal changes — it’s a big deal to them, but unless they can connect it to why it matters to stakeholders or the public, then the news will fall flat. When leveraging the news media to amplify messages, it’s vital to provide context and content which is actually newsworthy.

Candor: We’ve all heard the saying, “All publicity is good publicity.” Is this true?

Adam: Truly negative publicity — something which might make people actively avoid a business/organization or have a plausible reason for viewing it in a poor light — obviously tends to create more harm than good. But a little controversary can often be a good thing. My mind immediately goes to last year when IHOP temporarily changed its name to IHOb to generate buzz around its new burger line-up. There were a lot of negative reactions, but there were also more people talking about IHOP’s burgers than ever before. Looking back, it’s clear the goal of the campaign was to simply get people talking about the brand. It certainly worked.

Candor: What steps can brands take to combat negative publicity?

Adam: First, always be communicating. This will help create a positive impression and a bank of trust with audiences. When things do go wrong, be honest and transparent. Apologize appropriately and provide as much information as possible to show the problem is actively being addressed.

Also, never say, “No comment.” A negative story might come out about a brand, but it’s important for the brand to share its perspective. Speaking allows companies to share input. If they don’t participate in the process, their side won’t be included.

Candor: What would you say to people who think PR practitioners are “spin doctors”?

Adam: Take a crisis client we recently helped. They knew their brand best, and they intuitively knew the right things to say, but they didn’t know how to best present their message to the media. They were incredibly close to the situation and instinctually wanted to react to every little criticism. We advised them to only focus on the positive parts. That’s not spin — that’s emphasizing the core message and ignoring extraneous criticisms. They were very happy with that strategy, and it proved successful.

Addressing every negative comment only works to amplify negative messages. This is generally not the best course of action.

Candor: In what other ways does Candor help clients protect their good names?

Adam: We proactively communicate positive stories, help brands think through consequences of statements and provide an objective view to allow companies to see the bigger picture. We also offer media training to walk clients through the basics of handling crises, how to speak in front of a camera, etc. Brand reputation management is complex, but our practitioners provide “been there before” counsel to companies navigating uncharted territory.

Need help generating positive publicity? Interested in setting up a media training session? Contact us to chat about how Candor can assist you best.

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