purpose driven public relations

Why Purpose-Driven Public Relations Have an Edge 

It’s easy to see why some companies are skeptical of shifting to a “purpose-driven” business model. Doing so requires companies to take a position on important, potentially controversial issues like environmental protection, workers’ rights, racial and gender discrimination, income inequality, and so on.

Is Taking a Stand the New Social Media in Public Relations?

Taking a stand can generate a swift backlash from the community and consumers. For an example, look no further than the reaction from many fans of the National Football League when several players, mostly notably San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, knelt during the national anthem as a protest against police violence.

The NFL is one of the few monolithic institutions left in American life, and the response from its fans would seem to discourage other brands from getting involved in political and social issues. Even President Donald Trump got involved by putting pressure on team owners and league officials. And yet, the NFL’s handling of its players’ police violence protests offers an instructive example of why brands should lean into social causes instead of avoiding them.

After all, what was the ultimate outcome for Kaepernick? The NFL caved on player protests and is allowing social justice messages in the end zones this year. Kaepernick partnered with Nike on their “Dream Crazy” ad, which helped spread his message to a much wider audience. Though the ad was criticized in some quarters, most people responded positively to it. Younger audiences, one of Nike’s key demographics, responded especially well.

Making that ad was a risk for Nike, but it’s a risk that clearly paid off. By being aware of social trends — particularly among some of its core customers — and partnering with someone who had legitimate social justice credentials, Nike scored a public relations coup and rode the wave to increased sales.

Jumping into the realm of social activism is new for Nike, but other brands have engaged in social, political, and environmental causes for many years now. The clothing company Patagonia, for instance, supports many social causes, especially groups focused on the protection and preservation of public lands in the United States. They’ve also imposed a “1% for the Planet” tax on themselves, in which they spend 1 percent of their sales (not just their profits) on environmental activism while encouraging other companies to do the same.

Another brand that’s making headway in terms of changing the way business is done is King Arthur Baking Company. Unlike many larger bakeries, King Arthur is a private company that is owned by its employees and is a benefit corporation. This means that having a positive impact on the world is built into the company’s corporate structure. In an article for the New York Times, Ralph Carlton, one of King Arthur’s chief executives, said “Being accountable to our employee-owners means we have to take them into account. We don’t believe in growth for growth’s sake.” The company’s message is clearly resonating with consumers; according to the Times article, King Arthur’s sales tripled this past spring when many people went into quarantine and started baking their own bread and other goods.

Is a Purpose Driven Public Relations Strategy for Everyone?

These examples and additional research illustrate the gains to be had for brands that embrace social causes. For instance, the research firm Accenture found in 2018 that 63 percent of consumers prefer to support brands that share their values and beliefs. In that same study, Accenture also found that 62 percent of consumers want brands to take a position on social and political causes, and 65 of consumers said their buying decisions are influenced by the values, actions, and words of a company’s leaders.

As we saw with Nike, these trends are even more pronounced among younger audiences and consumers. Other researchers have found that 54 percent of teens age 16-19 boycotted or bought from a brand because of its ethics. Furthermore, 63 percent of teens say they are more likely to buy from brands that back charities or other causes they believe in.

These figures provide more evidence that consumers are eager to buy from brands they perceive as having strong morals and values. However, brand trust is a precious commodity that companies should not take for granted. About 37 percent of teens surveyed in the study mentioned above said they didn’t trust the claims brands make about the causes they support, and 69 percent of teens in the survey said brands overstate how much they support the causes they supposedly champion.

That last point is critical. It’s not enough for companies to say they want to make the world a better place, they have to back it up with their actions and policies. If you tell consumers you’re moving to a purpose-driven business philosophy, you need to give them proof.

Once again, we can look at Nike for an example of this theory in action. Regardless of other criticisms the company has faced in the past, making Kaepernick the centerpiece of a campaign took courage, as he was a pariah in many circles and hadn’t been a star player for several years. But because Kaepernick had sacrificed his career and his reputation for his beliefs, Nike benefitted from his social justice bona rides.

As more consumers push for brands to become more socially and politically engaged, companies that have already adopted a purpose-driven approach or are willing to make a good-faith effort have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. If you can show consumers that your brand shares their values, they’ll flock to your business.

How to Celebrate a Purpose-Driven Public Relations

 

Of course, getting your message in front of consumers is easier said than done. You need a public relations firm that understands the challenges purpose-driven brands face and the benefits they can provide consumers. Fortunately, PR for purpose-driven brands is what we do at Avaans Media, and we can help show the world what makes your company special.

It’s important not to be too bold or too generic when it comes to PR for purpose-driven brands. You need to be specific about what you’re doing and how it’s generating the kind of positive change you’re striving for. We’ll create a campaign that’s tailored to your company’s specific strengths and goals, and we’ll show consumers that you’re serious about achieving those goals.

This kind of campaign is something we already have experience doing. One of our biggest successes came from helping a nonprofit create content to help parents who were non-native English speakers improve their children’s early education outcomes. We listened to what they wanted to achieve and created streamlined, easy-to-understand social media content for parents to share with each other and their children. Furthermore, we helped the nonprofit lobby the state legislature to fund early education programs for pre-kindergarten students.

Our campaign was a tremendous success, generating more than 401,000 impressions over six months among our target audience, with an engagement rate over 50 percent. The state legislature also saw the extensive community support for the program and funded more early education programs, providing an even greater benefit to the community.

Our organization has the tools and talent to bring this kind of success to your purpose-driven brand. To learn more, visit our contact page to schedule a call with one of our offices. You can also find us locally in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Phoenix, Denver, and San Diego.

building trust with PR

Building Trust with PR in a Volatile Environment

 

Building trust with PR is what tomorrow’s leading companies are doing today. Trust is a truly earned currency. There’s no fast tracking it and it’s easier to gain than it is to get back, so trust is a cherished and worthy asset for any company with ambitions. It’s essential for companies to build trust with key constituencies, whether those be consumers, investors, or other community stakeholders. After all, it’s virtually impossible to succeed if your audience can’t trust your company. And yet, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to win over skeptical consumers and communities.

Many factors have contributed to this volatile, and sometimes outright hostile, business environment. We’re all more engaged with the news and the world than ever before, which means we are more aware of what goes on “behind the curtain” at major companies.

Social media platforms are unethically harvesting and profiting from their users’ data. Major corporations are coming under the microscope for how they treat their employees. Income inequality has become a hot-button political issue. The environment is being irreparably damaged by companies exploiting it for a profit with little thought to how it will affect us and future generations.

Faced with innumerable examples of corporate greed and misconduct, it’s no wonder that the public’s trust in the business community has crashed. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer found that only 56 percent of people trust the business community to do the right thing. When nearly half of the marketplace harbors fundamental misgivings about businesses’ willingness to behave ethically, companies that want to earn consumers’ trust have their work cut out for them.

The world of business is hardly alone in coming under greater scrutiny from the public. Many people have grown increasingly distrustful of government entities, nonprofits, the news media, and other institutions. In the minds of a skeptical public, these organizations are in business for themselves, not their community or the world at large. That same 2019 report from Edelman found that only 57 percent of the public trusts NGOs to do the right thing, and the figure is even lower for the news media at 47 percent. A 2019 study from the Pew Research Center found that only 14 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing “most of the time.”

 

How to Use PR to Earn the Trust of Your Consumers, Investors & Stakeholders

So, what can companies do to earn the trust of an increasingly skeptical public? The study suggests the right way to do it. The lone bright spot for companies is that while much of the public doesn’t trust the business community as a whole, they tend to trust their own employers. The 2019 Edelman report found that 75 percent of people generally trust their employer to do what’s right. This data suggests that when people get a chance to know a company better, they can be convinced to give that company the benefit of the doubt.

Edelman’s research found that 58 percent of employees count on their employers to be reliable sources of information about social and political issues. Furthermore, 67 percent of employees expect their employers to join them in taking a stand on issues they care about. Employees also have high expectations of CEOs and other executives, with 71 percent believing their CEO should respond to social and political challenges. The general public agrees, with 76 percent saying that CEOs should directly address societal issues instead of waiting for governments to respond.

These data points offer a roadmap for brands looking to increase trust with their customers. Consumers are looking for businesses to drop their old ways of doing things and embrace the challenge of change. Brands that rise to meet this challenge can tap into the zeitgeist and build a better, healthier relationship with their customers.

One of the most effective tools to building trust with the public is a well-crafted public relations campaign. Why PR for trust building instead of advertising or marketing? It all comes back to the trust factor. Advertising and marketing are what you say about yourself, while PR is what other people say about you. Many people either ignore the content they see in ads or reject it out of hand because they don’t trust it. They believe that advertisers aren’t truthful or that companies exaggerate the claims in their marketing materials.

By contrast, PR is all about crafting a message for your company. There’s a risk here, as you don’t control the entire story yourself, but the potential benefits are worth the trade-offs. Because so many consumers don’t trust what they see or hear in ads, they look to third parties like news media, blogs, and other sources to verify those claims. A well-placed story in the right publication will do more for your credibility than any ad spend ever could. Furthermore, external links from reputable publications are a key factor in search engine results, meaning good PR can also make it easier for people to find your company.

 

Need Help With Your Trust Building PR Campaign?

Creating effective, striking PR campaigns for purpose-driven brands is what we do at Avaans Media, and we’d love to bring our expertise to your company. We have the media contacts, talent, and creative vision to craft the perfect PR campaign for companies of all sizes and in all manner of industries.

Our past clients have included consumer packaged goods manufacturers, nonprofits, and tech startups. We’ve even led a global campaign focused on boosting tourism for an entire country. In each case, we made sure to highlight the organizations’ values and strengths, and in each case, we achieved resounding success.

When you partner with Avaans Media, you’re getting a PR agency that knows how to showcase what makes purpose-driven brands special. We’ve been helping companies build trust since 2008. If you’re ready to see what we can do for you, visit our contact page to set up a phone call with one of our offices. You can also find our team locally in Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and New York.

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The latest Advertising Trust report from Neilsen reveals some surprises, but least surprising is the fact that “Recommendations from people I know” is the single most powerful driver to product and brand trust AND more importantly, action taking. It’s true that trust and action are often hand in hand, and we can’t discount the value of trust, but its also hard to measure. However, what creates trust and what creates action can be different. For example, consumers report that humorous ads resonate most with them. We know that humor is a powerful tool, especially in social media. It might be more powerful than cats, dare I say . However, humor is rarely what makes people take ACTION.

The action taking piece is the one I’m always most interested in looking at more closely. And its really no surprise that word of mouth leads the pack. Ads on social networks have a lower trust score than they do action score. That’s actually true for several advertising types. With respect to social media, there are two key take aways:
1) Use social to build trust and be very aware of what motivations exist for taking action.
2) The power of your tribe: when they share what you’ve got, its a more credible source. So be very aware of what and why people share on social.

Now, the challenge with a report like this is that these results are all self-reported. The challenge with self-reporting is that people don’t always really know why they do what they do. I know, YOU always know why you do what you do. Or do you? Your motivations may not always be clear even to you.

Just remember, what type of message you use impacts trust and action. Decide what you’re trying to establish in every single post. Be purposeful in your social media practice and you’ll find that you can actually be more human.

PS: If you’d like to download the Neilsen Report for yourself: click here