It’s no surprise that in the last few years businesses have begun incorporating social responsibility into their marketing and public relations strategies. Sometimes these efforts work very well (think Colin Kapernick for Nike), and sometimes they fall flat (think Bell Let’s Talk’s lack of authenticity). So how do you create a strategy that will both bolster your business and contribute to the greater good?
Consumers are looking to their brands more than ever to have personalities, and are willing to pay a premium to align themselves with a brand that shares their values. This differs greatly from brands of the 50s and 60s, which were seen as stoic, unrelatable entities. You’re not going to impress everybody with your social strategy. However, if you can figure out who your target audience is, it’s wise to ensure that your mutual social values are reflected in every aspect of your marketing and PR strategies. Check out my top five tips on how to leverage social good for effective PR.
1. Know your values
Businesses are more value-driven than they’ve ever been. While this may sound counter-intuitive to some, it often results in higher profit margins. This is thanks to the value-driven mindset of the millennial generation, made up of individuals that watched their parents struggle through the recession and are just beginning to have more disposable with which income to play. As a brand and as a business leader, it’s important for you to reflect on what your values are. Whether it’s women’s rights or issues of racial inequality, take some time to figure out what is important to you. No matter what it is – even if it seems like it doesn’t directly relate to your business, these values will become a core component of your strategy.
2. Use social to your advantage
Your brand’s voice is most easily recognized through your social channels, so the best way to establish your values to reflect them in your posts. When posting about social justice, your brand’s voice should be used to amplify, rather than overpower the individuals at the forefront of the movements. Instead of simply slapping a hashtag with your brand’s name on it, try interacting with your followers who are driving social change by reposting, responding and including them in your posts. Not only will this build a community around your shared values, but it will also give your brand a more authentic voice among the clutter of social media pandering.
3. Partner with other brands
We’ve seen time and time again that collaboration is more valuable than the competition. Chances are, other brands share your values, and are equally committed to supporting your cause. Joining forces with like-minded brands will connect you to a larger audience of individuals with your values, resulting in a larger impact. A successful partnership will consist of each brand contributing equally, and engaging with their shared audience. Before partnering with a brand, be mindful of their previous social engagement. If the brand’s activity can be interpreted as problematic or missing the mark, it’s best to steer clear of them.
4. Practice what you preach
If you’re just talking about these values and not doing anything, consumers will question what your true motives are. For example, numerous brands during Pride month will cover their products with rainbow flags and tweet their support for the LGBTQ community (also known as rainbow washing), and will be exposed shortly after for their mistreatment of LGBTQ employees. We saw this happen in 2014 with Burger King when they released their “Proud Whopper” in support of the pride parade in San Francisco, but scored only 55 out of 100 on the HRC Corporate Equity Index. Before boasting about your brand’s social values, look inward at your own practices, and make a concrete effort to reflect these values in everything that your company does.
5. Be authentic
Most importantly, your brand’s commitment to social good must come from a place of authenticity. If you don’t have the greater social good at heart, don’t bother jumping on the social justice bandwagon. Being authentic means maintaining an unwavering devotion to your cause. It means avoiding profiting at the expense of your cause. It means showing that you genuinely care about your cause. Ask yourself if you can genuinely commit to these principles – and if the answer is yes, you’re well on your way to doing some good for the world.
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