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The Public Relations Blog

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Heather M. Hilliard

Heather M. Hilliard

Heather M. Hilliard is a marketing and strategic planning professional with expertise in crisis management communications. Earning two master’s degrees and her international Certified Emergency Manager credential, she has worked during disasters as well as “normal business” to offset impact in preparedness for large- and small-scale events in a variety of industries. She is an adjunct professor for Tulane University. Heather has worked for Axia Public Relations since December 2015.

Read Heather's recent blog posts below.

Recent Posts:

4 tips to perfecting presentations

Why reading from notecards is not in your best interest

Anyone who has made a presentation or spoken in front of a large group knows how nerve-wracking it can be. So, wouldn’t it make sense to prepare notecards before your speech to be certain it goes smoothly? In a word, no.

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Topics: public relations, spokesperson training

Is your company ready for a website crisis?

3 ways Macy’s effectively handled its Black Friday virtual traffic jam

According to data collected by Adobe Digital Insights, Black Friday sales hit a record $3.34 billion in e-commerce. This marked the first time sales surpassed $3 billion. Successful companies know they must provide an optimum online shopping experience for consumers (75 percent of worldwide shoppers will abandon a company’s site if it’s buggy, slow or prone to crashes) and that includes preparing months in advance for the busiest shopping days of the year.

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications, shared media

Crisis management: Learn from Wells Fargo’s mistakes

5 lessons you can use in your own company

When Ben Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he was referring to fire safety. But this adage applies to many situations, including a corporation’s crisis management strategy. Planning makes for the best success, and this includes planning for an accident, an illness or an attack on a company’s principles.

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications

The top 5 mistakes executives make in business

PR tips for handling routine business and crisis errors

“To err is human,” according to Alexander Pope. But accepting that mistakes will happen is one of the biggest challenges top executives identify in their personal improvement plans.

Having a great team in place is the first step in handling mistakes, and public relations professionals provide rapid response to do the heavy lifting during the good times and the bad. Even if you aren’t certain of the cause of a crisis or the potential solution, responding in a professional (and fiscally appropriate) manner maintains your company’s reputation.

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications

5 critical steps to repairing your reputation after a crisis

A crisis can happen to any business and the results can be devastating. Even something seemingly insignificant, like an off-the-cuff remark by a CEO or other top executive, can snowball into a major public relations nightmare. When it happens to your company, what can you do?

Here is a checklist your business can use to ensure you handle the problem in the most effective way.

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Topics: public relations, reputation management, crisis communications

Defining a corporate crisis

Prepare for the worst so you perform at your best

Consumers are irrational. It’s part of the thrill of doing business: seeing if your company can decipher the right combination of wants versus needs and create an optimum strategy for pricing products for maximum profit.

Businesses generally have policies or processes to handle expected variables such as low inventory, staff illnesses or a new product launch. Rarely, however, are companies in the mindset to pre-identify triggers that would help them recognize when events start drifting outside of the realm of normal operations.

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Topics: public relations, reputation management, crisis communications

4 ways to improve your online rankings

The right words paint the best picture

When you want to say exactly the right thing, you spend a lot of time thinking about it.  Selecting the best words is crucial in delivering the appropriate message. Words and phrases take priority in the algorithm that search engines use to pull the best content to the top of results lists, but inappropriate use actually lowers rankings.

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Topics: public relations, online review management, shared media

Bernie Sanders vs. Verizon’s CEO

When your CEO creates a firestorm

An instance of self-induced crisis cleanup began on Wednesday when Verizon workers went on strike over several key issues – which, in itself, wasn’t the crisis.

In the presidential campaign events the next day, both Democratic candidates took to the stage to support various aspects of the Verizon workers’ decision. This is common for politicians; it only became an issue for Verizon when the company’s CEO chose to respond to only one candidate, Bernie Sanders, but remained silent regarding Hillary Clinton’s similar statements on the same day.

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications, shared media

5 rules to keep messaging on track

Don’t dig yourself into a hole during a PR crisis

Not having your customer’s pulse for your brand can hurt your business when the public is expecting a response from you, but so can a knee-jerk reaction. No matter what noise is in the background, responsible corporate statements always need to stay on message, on time and be delivered via the appropriate channels.

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications, shared media

4 steps to changing the public’s perception of your company

Improving your brand’s online reputation

When your company gets negative press, you may hesitate to publish anything online in your defense for fear of fueling the fire. It’s a Catch-22 because if you don’t control your message, everyone else will. If you are ready for your customers to move beyond a recent incident, here is how you can be heard through the firestorm.

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications, online reputation management

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