Inc-5000-Mag-Cover-2012-227x300-1Axia PR Generates $67.5 Million in Earned Media, Helps Increase Revenue by 1,200 Percent

A national mortgage company approached Axia Public Relations with a problem. The company was suffering from a damaged online reputation as well as a perception that it was a bad place to work. At the time, it was estimated that the company was losing $20,000 in new sales per week, if not per day. In order to solve these issues, Axia launched a nationwide proactive public relations campaign that would mend the company’s tainted image. Axia’s plan included an in-depth media relations campaign, an awards recognition program and the implementation of a lasting reputation management program. Within 24 months, the national mortgage company saw results: a 1,200-percent increase in annual revenue, 3,903 articles generated and 20 business awards that celebrated the company and its business practices.

IDEAS

When a national mortgage company first approached Axia Public Relations, it was suffering from a damaged online reputation and the perception that it was a bad place to work. Executives estimated that this was costing the company at least $20,000 per week in new sales, if not per day.

We developed a public relations plan designed to put the company on the map and reposition it as a premier home lender. Our plan included a media relations campaign that would increase the financial services firm’s exposure nationally – and locally in every city where the company had offices – and position its staff as thought leaders in the mortgage industry.

It also included an awards recognition program aimed at highlighting the company’s accomplishments and improving the results of its recruiting efforts.

A third – and urgent – prong of our plan was an aggressive reputation management program.

RELATIONSHIPS

Earned Media

Between August and Dec. 31, 2010, Axia Public Relations helped generate 533 articles related to the company, including 31 broadcast stories. The total value of the earned media coverage during those five months exceeded $8 million.

In the second quarter of 2012, our relationships with media outlets helped generate 1,053 articles with a value of $20,927,000. The total value of the 3,903 articles we generated during the previous two years exceeds $62.5 million.

When Axia began work on the company’s online reputation, a Google search for the company name returned seven negative reviews within the first 20 results. We were immediately able to have three negative pages permanently removed and two others from prominent negative review sites removed for several months.

Axia designed and created a social media campaign to give the company a presence on the most popular social media channels, which, in turn, gave the company an opportunity to respond to its critics in real time and to publicly display its commitment to customer service.

RESULTS

Over the course of the campaign, we generated enough positive media that negative reviews did not appear until page five of Google’s search results. During the past two years, fewer negative reviews have appeared – and those that did seldom made it as high as page three of search results. When they did, we aggressively worked to counter them with positive media coverage that quickly pushed the negative reviews back several pages on Google as well as other search engines.

Our reputation management efforts were supported by Axia’s award recognition program. The client had never earned an award prior to its relationship with us. With Axia’s help, the company has now received more than 20 awards, including recognition as one of the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in Atlanta” from the National Association for Business Resources (NABR), which 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 and helped inspire top mortgage professionals to seek new careers with our fast-growth client.

The client also enjoyed such awards as 904 Magazine’s “Companies with Heart” and Jacksonville Magazine’s “Companies Who Care.” The Jacksonville Business Journal recognized the company’s chief financial officer as one of the “Ultimate CFOs in North Florida.” National Mortgage Professional Magazine also honored the company’s CEO with its prestigious “40 Under 40 Award,” designating him one of the top mortgage professionals in the United States under the age of 40, as voted on by his peers.

The 2012 American Business Awards have named the company as a finalist in the “Company of the Year – Banking and Financial Services” category. The results aren’t in yet, but our client is guaranteed a spot as one of the top three firms in the country.

Most importantly, Inc. magazine, which has an international readership, named the company one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. in its annual Inc. 500|5000 list of private companies.

Axia’s social media campaign took the company from having zero presence on Facebook and Twitter to having approximately 10,000 “likes” on Facebook and nearly 9,000 followers on Twitter.

At a public relations campaign evaluation meeting about four months into its new relationship with Axia, the CEO of the company said its PR was everything Axia had promised and more. He said employees were more enthusiastic about being part of the company and felt now now felt it was something special to be part of. Employees were hearing positive comments from family, friends and neighbors about the media coverage and this had caused them to take greater pride in their work, which had translated into greater sales and productivity.

In addition, the CEO said it had become clear to him that the employees had bought fully into the company’s vision, direction, and growth plans and that the company was enjoying more success attracting and retaining qualified job candidates with fewer no shows for interviews.

Ultimately, the public relations changed public perception about an unknown and obscure company who’s only reputation was a negative one based on online complaints. The company no longer struggled to acquire the best talent and more customers. And that fresh start and newly found momentum allowed the company to accomplish and even accelerate its nationwide growth plans.

During the first two years, Axia Public Relations generated more than $62.5 million worth of earned positive media for the client, representing an ROI of 183x – a dramatic return made more impressive by its revenue growth.

The company’s monthly revenue today equals what its annual revenue was two years ago – a 1,200-percent increase.


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