Interview with Ilissa Miller – iMiller Public Relations

Ilissa MillerWe are very excited to continue our public relations and crisis communications expert interview series with Ilissa Miller, founder and CEO, iMiller Public Relations (iMPR).

Ilissa Miller brings nearly two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and product development to her clients in an effort to help them differentiate their messages and achieve notoriety within an ever-expanding and evolving industry. With a wealth of experience and knowledge in the emerging global telecommunications and technology industries, her extensive expertise and practical skill set have allowed her to implement and spearhead and launch many companies as well as global product and marketing campaigns including that of international private line and networks, IP transit, peering, IPVPN, hosted PBX, cloud computing, Ethernet, managed services, colocation and data center products and solutions. She is a recognized leader in the global telecom and technology space where her knowledge and insights provide strategic guidance that enhance performance resulting in a remarkable reputation for effectiveness and client satisfaction.

In addition to her aforementioned role, since 2013, Mrs. Miller has also served as the President of NEDAS where she functions as the driving force for the association’s annual programs including conferences, training sessions and networking socials. A key ingredient to the Association’s success is the Advisory Council, which was formed in 2013 consisting of industry executives and thought leaders who actively interact with the highly dynamic landscape of the in-building wireless industry.

In 2012, Mrs. Miller was elected to public office as Trustee in the Village of Mamaroneck where she successfully ran for re-election in 2014. As Trustee, she sits on the Village’s Board with legislative and policy decision-makers, governing over 19,000 local residents and serving her community with steadfast dedication.

Prior to founding iMPR, Mrs. Miller was the Managing Partner at a Public Relations firm serving the telecom industry where she spearheaded the company’s growth from 2008-2011. While her current experience works ‘on’ the sector, Miller has extensive hands-on experience working ‘in’ the sector. From 2007-2008, Ilissa was the Director of Marketing Communications and Public Relations for the interconnection company, Telx; a product marketing manager for Australian incumbent carrier, Telstra, where she was responsible for the company’s International Private Line (IPL) and IPVPN/MPLS products; and also served as a channel marketing manager for Telstra where she successfully positioned it’s Asia-Pacific network solutions as a leading partner to various leading US-domestic network operators. From 2000 to 2004, Ilissa worked with Band-X, Inc. the US subsidiary of Band-X the Exchange where she held roles including Director of IP Services and Director of Business Development and Marketing. In this position, Mrs. Miller supported the global marketing efforts of all Band-X’s products including the procurement and exchange of global IPLs, colocation, and voice minutes.

Mrs. Miller holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing and Literature from SUNY Potsdam where she also studied voice performance at Crane School of Music.

What is reputation management? How does it relate to public relations?

Reputation management is the practice of ensuring your brand, messages and the sentiment associated with your brand aligns with the position the company articulates to the market.  This can be monitored and observed through digital tools such as media monitoring, job boards, company reviews, social media and more.  Ensuring your brand is perceived as you want it to be is the core purpose of reputation management, and it requires diligence, proactive communication and monitoring on a regular basis.

What are the biggest PR mistakes you see companies make online? How could these mistakes have been avoided? 

The biggest PR mistakes many companies make online are in their use of words and context.  In an ever-changing world, moving more rapidly by the moment, companies must stay in tune with global and local markets and stay close to what matters most.  When companies are not paying attention, you bet the market will let them know.  This could cause disruptions to day-to-day business goals. By tuning in to current events and key social considerations, companies can avoid common mistakes and be relevant when joining conversations, rather than distracting from them.

How does social media factor into your reputation management strategy?

Social Media is a large factor in monitoring and ensuring a positive reputation for brands.  Reiterating words and context and how important they are, social media channels allow PR firms, like iMiller Public Relations, to monitor conversations, keywords, topics and more to align corporate brands and ensure their messaging stays on point with value-added insights.

What is the first thing a company should do when there is a crisis online?

When a company has an online crisis, the first thing they should do is identify the source.  When you identify the source and validate it (or not), you can then track the reach and implications associated to ward off further challenges.  The source could simply be misinformed, and by contacting them to correct, it could also release a domino effect of a more positive result.

What can employees do to help their company during and after a PR crisis?

Employees play a large part in a company’s PR crisis management.  Employees can support and amplify the company’s position, they can stay quiet and out of the fray or add unwanted attention by joining the conversation without prompt or a known cause.  When companies encounter a crisis situation, they should ensure their entire company is alerted with actionable, helpful information on how they can add value to the brand.

What can senior executives and companies do to better prepare for a PR crisis?

Senior executives and companies can better prepare for a PR crisis by paying close attention to those who have successfully weathered their own crisis, as well as those who have not done as well managing their own crisis. As a PR professional, I’ve learned that nearly every day a new brand crisis erupts online. These are opportunities to think hard about how we would/could/should handle the situation if we were providing sound advice to clients.  These daily observable challenges and internal exercises strengthen your ability to respond effectively.  Every day is an opportunity to learn.

Is reputation management getting easier or harder? Why?

Personally, I believe that reputation management is getting harder. There are so many factors that go into a negative or global crisis situation that companies must be equipped to properly manage.  With the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movements in simultaneous full swing, many emotions and personal positions drive individuals to respond and take action. Any perceived slight could cause major disruptions for a brand. This further reinforces my position that words and context matter – be thoughtful and purposeful with your brand’s message and positioning accordingly.

What has been your biggest PR or crisis communications challenge? How did you handle it?

Every day could be the day that our firm tackles the biggest PR or crisis communications challenge.  We have been witness to and part of a number of challenges from immediate management disruptions through unforeseen exits, to a client’s mention as an employer to an accused murderer, lack of sensitivity to current affairs and not understanding the real issues or concerns to immediate loss of life, loss of clients and more. Each situation must be considered and managed in its singular event, and pinpointing an end goal is the starting point.  As you encounter a crisis, the first question to ask is ‘what is the result we want?’ then you can make your plan on how you will get there.

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