Together, these factors can make or break your reputation
with potential customers and your elected officials.
For these things to work in your favor, you need to be
actively working on how you interact with the public.
No matter what your business is, no matter how directly
you interact with the public, what you say and how you
say it will affect your reputation. This can be especially
challenging for smaller, independent businesses; building
your brand takes time and energy that could otherwise be
spent building your business itself.
With two-thirds of American households owning pets,
the media knows that stories about our animal companions
are a reliable draw. And stories that “confirm” people’s
predisposition to distrust corporate interests are always
going to resonate with audiences. When these stories are
published, we at PIJAC work to correct misrepresentations
and to clarify misunderstandings that portray the entire pet
care community in a negative light. But your individual
reputation can take a hit as well, and you need to be ready.
That’s where transparency comes in. To the extent
possible, share what you do and how you do it. Walk
customers through your processes and help them
understand what you’re offering. Provide multiple channels
for engagement and do your best to respond.
When it comes to interacting with elected officials,
consider going a step further. Invite them to visit your
facility and see things for themselves if you’re able. Meet
with them and share information that helps to show a
more complete picture of your business—beyond first
impressions and possible misperceptions.
And above all else, authenticity is a must. When you
talk about your commitment to animal care, you need to
be able to back it up. If you’ve invited someone for a tour,
don’t expect to simply provide a packaged presentation
and have it accepted at face value; be prepared to answer
their questions and go into additional detail as needed.
If your business permits enough transparency for a
“peek behind the curtain,” then people can see how your
words translate to your actions. If it doesn’t, your engaged
communications efforts can give context and color to
what you say. Marketing and communications that feel
“packaged’ or overly produced are quickly rejected by
today’s pet owners and can actually work against a brand.
As you head into a new year, please reach out to
PIJAC to learn more about how we can all work to build
our reputations and that of the responsible pet care
community together. Our ability to do what we love
depends on it. PB
Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint
Advisory Council (PIJAC).
for small retailers.
• Solve problems and boost sales.
• Exceed high expectations.
• Impress with expertise.
• Win over pet parents.
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