PR & Brand Advocates: Who’s Who in Brand Advocacy?

06.14.2017 | AnnMarie Henriksson

In its simplest form, a brand advocate is someone or something that acts in favor of a brand or product and is responsible for spreading positive word-of-mouth messages about the brand to others.

If you stumbled upon this post in a wandering Google search or with little knowledge of PR, let’s just say that the definition of brand advocacy holds strong parallels with the definition of public relations: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Although a company’s brand manager and PR manger have different titles, their day-to-day roles and responsibilities strive to achieve many of the same objectives, one major parallel being the strategic pursuit for third-party validation and acclaim.

PR professionals develop plans and conduct media outreach to engage with third-party journalists, analysts and industry influencers. Very similarly, brand advocates are a company’s third-party target that increases brand exposure and spreads positive coverage about the specific product or announcement at hand.

So are PR professionals brand advocates in disguise?

Not quite. Although the question seems simple, it can be more complex when pulling back the different layers of each profession’s purpose. For example, there are tiers or day-to-day activities of brand advocates that do not apply to the roles of a company’s PR team (i.e., sponsored social media posts, discounted products, trunk shows, etc.). After evaluating these layers more closely, you’ll uncover that brand advocates are more often than not the online influencers or paid-customers-turned-ambassador –or-advocate. Despite the road to their official title as brand advocates, these individuals are our friends.

A helpful Meltwater article shares a comprehensive rundown on how PR impacts and benefits from brand advocacy. The article assesses the typical sales funnel and identifies where PR plays a role in the customer purchase decision. Two that hold high authority include “awareness” and the shift from “consideration to loyalty.”

Awareness. Knowledge or awareness of a product or service is one of the first steps of a purchase decision. If your competitor has an overwhelmingly large amount of positive word-of-mouth support, it can be difficult to stay in the running with little to no public validation. PR efforts help spread your messages and raise awareness of your product to the right audience, even if your competitors are also in the conversation.

Consideration to Loyalty. Reputation management and corporate image are two chief responsibilities of a company’s PR team. As consideration moves to loyalty, a company’s reputation also becomes a determinant in the purchase decision. Take the #DeleteUber incident for example – even loyal Uber riders were upset with the company’s actions and chose to cut ties in order to disassociate from Uber’s corporate image.

Whether you wear the hat of a brand manager or PR professional, exploring and getting to know your company’s brand advocates can help move the needle on targeted marketing campaigns and successful reputation management.

Is your company interested in conducting targeted brand ambassador outreach? We’d love to learn more about your objectives!


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Filed under: Branding, Business to Business, COMMUNIQUÉ PR, Consumer, Positioning, PR trends, Reputation Management, Strategy

One Comment

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your read on defining what is a brand advocate and distinguishing that role from a PR manager. In today’s world the lines definitely get blurred and your article really hit upon something that’s not thought about much. It really resonated with me how you explained how there are many layers to the profession and how much more complicated it gets the more layers you peel back. I also really found the section about “Consideration to Loyalty” really to be something that is such a hot topic today. Similar to the #DeleteUber incident, several airlines today such as United Airlines are facing such a situation where the PR team plays a role in reputation management. Thank you for a fabulous read! – Elizabeth Selmarten, Platform Magazine Editor/Writer

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