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PR in the Sharing Economy

As much as some long established businesses would like to maintain the status quo, the sharing economy is here to stay. But sharing economy companies need to create understanding by enlisting PR strategies to communicate with stakeholders. Many of these stakeholders may be unfamiliar with the sharing economy model

Here are some tips to communicating on the sharing economy model.

Chocolate and vanilla. Like the case made in Christopher Buckley’s Thank You For Smoking, consumer choice is critical to winning license to operate. Consumers want choice. They want to choose a solution that best meets their needs, preferably one that uses technology to enhance their experience. The convenience, the cost savings, the enhanced quality, transparency – these sharing economy attributes win favor from consumers. And once consumers have access to this business model, they rarely want to go back to old, established models. But at a minimum, they want opportunity for choice.

The media and law lag. The news media gets caught up in the play-by-play of the sharing economy. Is it legal? Is it not? The reality is that the law lags behind technology. Sharing economy companies want fair and reasonable regulation. They want to be part of the economy, not locked outside. It is important to raise the issue of law lag as journalists get bogged down into the daily question of whether or not a company has right to operate. More important is the question of how regulators can adapt existing law to regulate sharing economy companies that consumers have already integrated into their lives. Consumers have voted with their pocketbooks in favor of the sharing. It is up to regulators to catch up.

Pro-social data. Sharing economy companies are inherently social, and usually pro-social. They also have a lot of data about how they increase efficiency. It is a major challenge for critics to overcome the data-driven fats that sharing is anything but beneficial for society.

Perpetual crisis. Sharing economy companies generate a lot of attention, and probably more than their fair share of crisis. They key is for sharing economy companies to manage crisis in the same transparent and social manner they were created. This openness and direct communication with the public is part of the sharing economy DNA. Sharing economy companies are well positioned to whether this storm.

Show it off – Demonstrate your sharing economy product or service as much as possible. Or even better, give people a chance to try it for themselves.

Their interest is the best key message – let them know what they can expect from the new economy concept. Highlight the key benefits and let them know what they will miss if they don’t take advantage of the new value as the cherry on top.

Identify key influencer(s) – you need to know who your target audience listening to. Get that person/people to speak for your brand. The key influencer doesn’t need to be expert or celebrity. That person can be typical target consumer.

It’s here and everywhere – ensure your messages are well delivered to the target audience through a multi-channel effort. Consumers are aware and don’t believe everything they see on TV, read from a book or find on internet. You need to reinforce your messages through different channels constantly and consistently so that the audience is haring your message on multiple occasions.

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