How to vacuum up PR, BrightLight RankFlux, and why a Dyson car wouldn’t suck

By Jim James,
Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

One admirable company worth mentioning is Dyson. Sir James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson vacuum and all other air-related products, is also the UK’s largest farmer with approximately 25,000 acres of land, which is more acres than the Queen of England has at Sandringham, and he puts it to good use. Dyson’s land is used to create renewable fuels that can power up to 10,000 homes. However, this is nothing compared to his manufacturing business, which has a turnover of about three and a half billion pounds. Evidently, Dyson has done a wonderful job of creating a brand and a complete customer experience in a way other companies may wish to emulate. Dyson has many notable products, such as the Dyson Air Wrap and the V7 vacuum cleaner which is a portable electric vacuum. Customer service is said to be of great quality, as they reply to customer concerns and resolve them promptly. From start to finish, they have premium products with great packaging, an excellent online experience, and exceptional customer service. 

Public relations creates opportunities for happy customers as they share, voice, and review the value of a product. Paul Hourihane, an expert in this area, began his work in direct marketing and has just taken over for CX Academy Ireland. One of his recent webinars proposed the question that once a business has customers, the issue then becomes how to retain them. The CX Academy webinar discussed three benefits concerning customer service. One is retention, because the better the customer experience, the more likely customers are to stick with the same brand. Another benefit is the "churn rate," which is how quickly consumers drop in and out of a service, creating an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell. The next part is loyalty, which comes from customers who not only have an acceptance for a brand but enjoy talking about it with others. This is embodied the development of software companies such as Glassdoor where people can report their job experience under an employer anonymously. For companies looking to form stronger bonds with their staff, MoWork is a platform that uses an employee engagement method to help consumers through gamification and a social media-like platform. This not only enables communication, but encourages dialogue and engagement through rewards programs and employee loyalty programs, which are completely accessible online. 

Ratings and reviews 

On some websites and apps, the number of other people looking at the same product are displayed, often to encourage or somehow pressure you into making a purchase as well. This is often seen on sites for holiday rentals, such as Airbnb and Book It, and on airline websites. Ratings are also one way that app stores encourage the sharing of the customer experience. Definitely, the appearance and the reality of the customer experience are bleeding into PR, making the role of public relations one of mitigation. If there is a crisis, it would find its way into the mainstream media, and the PR agency would try to exact some force on the media to not cover that story. In some cases, as Trump has done with Twitter, it can be used to withdraw advertising. This is no longer possible wherein crisis management has essentially been disabled due to the democratisation of communication through digitisation. If a customer has a poor experience, they can make that experience known immediately through multiple channels social media. So, public relations now has to be able to monitor these negative experiences by sharing positive ones or at least be counteractive in some way. 

The opposite scenario is when a company such as Dyson delivers outstanding customer service that the customer decides to share that experience, allowing the agency to ideally capitalise on that through a repost or retweet. There is even the option of reaching out to that consumer and having that consumer provide a testimonial or become a spokesperson. And so, if customers have a great experience with a product, brands will create a hashtag of that trend.

Consumer statistics that you should know

PR now has access to control what people are amplifying and magnifying, with the possibility to get that into people’s own websites. This blurs the lines between the corporate story and the consumer evaluation story and makes one question how this can be tracked. There are some applications out there, one example of which is BrightLight, which tracks keywords on platforms like Google on a daily basis and monitors movement across 14,000 keywords on search engines. A 2019 survey shows that over 40% of the world’s population is active on social media and spending a staggering one 116 minutes a day online. They found that 90% of consumers use the internet to find a local business, and in the last year, 33% were looking every day. While 82% of consumers read online reviews for these same businesses, 52% of people said they always read the review before buying the product. This averages out to ten reviews before developing trust for a business and 53% would consider using a business with less than four stars. So, if you do not have five stars, you have already lost half the market, but a product being sold does not mean it is the end of the journey. Once you have hired a member of staff, they have a powerful voice. 

Statistics or surveys can also be used to create press coverage, which turns the data back into stories. There are companies that annually create a cost of living index that displays information such as which city may be most affordable to move to, and this is mostly paid for by the Human Resources departments managing the expectations of staff assigned to new locations. The data was hotly received by the media as competition was created amongst these cities and countries to see which were ranking. For instance, Singapore did well. Even though it is a relatively expensive country, it always ranks highly for safety and security as well as for quality of life and education. 

One group that creates surveys and applies their information to content and business creation is JD Power. Looking at JD Power’s rankings, they found that James Dyson was the category winner with a score of 843 for upright vacuums. With the JD Power research, brand research shows that higher satisfaction leads to higher recommendations. Whether you like it or not, people are researching your company or product online well before they even get to your website. Ultimately, the goal is to have satisfied customers, especially those that score about 100 and will certainly repurchase the brand. If someone were to score about 100 on the satisfaction rating of your product, they will be more likely to repurchase the brand as opposed to the average value of approximately 30-31%. Simply put, if you can please your customers and your staff to that level that James Dyson has done, then you’re going to have them coming back to recommend your brand. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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