A national mortgage company approached Axia Public Relations with an online reputation management problem. The company was suffering from a damaged reputation and the negative perception that it was a substandard company and a bad place to work. At the time, it was estimated that the company was losing $20,000 in new sales per week – perhaps each day. In order to solve these issues, Axia launched a nationwide, proactive public relations campaign that would mend the company’s tarnished image. Axia’s plan included an in-depth media relations campaign, an awards recognition program and the implementation of a lasting online reputation management program.
Within 24 months, the national mortgage company saw big results: a 1,200-percent increase in annual revenue; 3,903 articles generated; 20 business awards that celebrated the company and its business practices; and a complete reversal in public perception from negative to positive.
More importantly, the company enjoyed completely clean returns on the first six pages of search engine page rankings.
When Axia began work on the firm’s online reputation, a Google search for the company's brand name (branded keyword) returned seven negative reviews within the first 20 results.
Axia developed a PR plan to put the company on the map and reposition it as a premier home lender. The PR plan included a media relations campaign that would increase the company’s exposure nationally and locally in every city where the company had offices, as well as position its staff as thought-leaders in the mortgage industry.
Axia's plan also included AwardAbility, our awards recognition program, aimed at highlighting the company’s accomplishments and improving the results of its recruiting efforts.
A third – and the most important – priority of our plan was an aggressive reputation management program.
As a national public relations firm, Axia utilized its relationships with reporters nationally and on a local level throughout the country as the national mortgage firm added retail storefront locations to its footprint. Axia also enabled its Avalon hyperlocal system to secure additional local PR coverage for the client by sharing new hires and charity news briefs with the local media.
After the initial hire, from August to December, Axia Public Relations helped generate 533 articles related to the company, including 31 broadcast stories. The total measured value of the earned media coverage during those five months exceeded $8 million, according to NASDAQ Media Intelligence.
In the second quarter of the following year, our relationships with national media outlets led to 1,053 more articles – at a value of $20.9 million – including outlets like American Banker, Insurance Business Review, Money Magazine, National Mortgage Banker and TV news stories. We also secured local media placement in various cities where the company had branch offices, including appearances in the Dallas Business Journal, Florida Times-Union, Florida Trend and Savannah Morning News.
Over the course of the two-year PR campaign, the total value of the 3,903 articles we generated for our client exceeded $62.5 million. In fact, we generated so much positive media that negative reviews about our client did not appear until Page 6 of Google’s search results.
When Axia began work on the firm’s online reputation, a Google search for the company's name returned seven negative reviews within the first two results pages. We immediately got three negative pages permanently deleted. In two months, we removed two pages from Complaints Board. RipOffReport complaints were removed for several months and, when they eventually showed back up, appeared as deep as Page 6.
In the subsequent years, fewer negative reviews have appeared, and those that do seldom make it as high as Page 3 in search results. If they do, we aggressively work to counter them with more positive media coverage and branded keyword optimization that quickly pushes the negative reviews back several pages on Google and other search engines.
Axia's awards recognition program supported our efforts. Prior to its relationship with us, the client had never earned an award in its eight-year history. With Axia’s help, the company earned more than 20 awards in 24 months, including “Companies with Heart,” “Companies Who Care” and recognition as one of the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” from the National Association for Business Resources. Upon bestowing that award, the NABR referred to our client as “a superior workplace based on excellence in its innovative strategies as well as industry leadership.”
Several other awards also recognized the company as a great place to work. The awards helped inspire top mortgage professionals to seek new careers with our fast-growing client.
Bona fide thought-leaders
Several awards the company won helped spotlight its executives as industry thought-leaders. For example, The Jacksonville Business Journal recognized the company’s chief financial officer as one of the “Ultimate CFOs in North Florida.” National Mortgage Professional Magazine honored the firm's CEO with its prestigious “40 Under 40 Award,” designating him as one of the top mortgage professionals in the United States under the age of 40, as voted on by his peers.
The American Business Awards named the company as a finalist in the “Company of the Year – Banking and Financial Services” category. Our client received the bronze award in the banking and financial services category.
Most importantly, Inc. Magazine, which has an international readership of more than 740,000, named the company one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. in its annual Inc. 500|5000 list of private companies.The CEO and members of the team were interviewed as experts and thought-leaders in the industry for contributions in magazines (including National Mortgage Professional Magazine and Money magazine), newspapers, TV and online publications regarding mortgage, insurance and tax-related items.
Social media: From no voice to real-time responsiveness
Axia also designed and created a social media campaign to give the company a presence on the most popular social media channels. Axia’s social media campaign took the company from absolutely no presence on Facebook and Twitter to netting approximately 10,000 likes on Facebook and nearly 9,000 followers on Twitter in only 12 months. Social media channels enable the firm to respond to critics in real time and to publicly display its commitment to customer service, which has improved public perception of the company.
At a public relations campaign evaluation meeting four months into its relationship with Axia, the CEO of the company said the PR support it was receiving was "everything promised and more."
He relayed that employees reported positive comments from family, friends and neighbors about the media coverage, and that this had caused them to take greater pride in their work. He identified all of this as contributing to greater sales and productivity.
In addition, the CEO said it had become clear to him that his employees now fully bought into the company’s vision, direction and growth plans. In addition, the firm is now enjoying more success attracting and retaining top qualified job candidates, as opposed to previously, when it couldn't attract qualified talent and experienced mostly no-shows for employment interviews.