Purpose-driven public relations means the brand proactively builds incorporates values that impact social, cultural, and environmental issues. A true purpose-driven company makes corporate choices within its purpose framework, even when it means purpose over profits.

Truthfully, public relations aren’t purpose-driven, a brand is purpose-driven. Public relations is simply a lever a purpose-driven brand can use to improve the world around them. Building a purpose-driven brand is an inside-out job. They aren’t PR campaigns or PR ideas; they are a cultural way of thinking that’s internalized by everyone in the company.

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The Importance of Internalizing Purpose

There are lots of ways a brand can support its customers, community, and the globe meaningfully. Cause partnerships, and donation campaigns, are all relevant PR campaigns, but they aren’t purpose-driven. Purpose-driven companies take the long view on purpose and impact.

Internalization distinguishes purpose-driven brands. When everyone from the Board, to the CEO to the janitor walks the talk of purpose, then a brand has authentically implemented a purpose-driven brand. This also means when employees face choices, they incorporate the purpose into their decision-making. This can include employee hiring, employee programs, purchasing, and product decisions. It also means employees feel safe in making a purpose-informed choice because they know they’re acting within the company’s ethos; their choice is supported and even celebrated.

 

Should Purpose-Driven Initiatives Even Have a PR Component?

The deciding factor on this issue is the “why,” behind the initiative. Every day, businesses from Fortune 500 all the way to emerging industries are making decisions that have a social impact, and most of the time, these decisions don’t get the credit they deserve. But it’s not one decision, or one campaign, or one person who makes purpose – it’s people moving in unison making decisions that impact millions.

For example, let’s take eggs. When you go to the grocery, you face a lot of buying choices. Cage-free eggs, organic eggs, local eggs, inexpensive eggs. Many of these egg producers are balancing product, purpose, and price. Even though the organic or cage-free eggs are more expensive, it’s likely the margins on those eggs are considerably less than the mass-produced eggs. It’s also very likely that the producers of the cage-free or organic eggs are making other choices that cost more – maybe they buy the more expensive food, maybe they supplement their electricity with solar power. These are all purpose-driven decisions that are really important, but they won’t make news. What may make the news is the impact or the multiple steps they take for their purpose might make news. The people behind these choices may have interesting stories to tell. There will be PR opportunities, but they require real storytelling. Therefore, it’s important to have experienced purpose-driven PR agencies who can tell ethos and purpose stories.

Brands should have PR at the table when incorporating purpose-driven ethos, but PR should be part of the purpose, not the purpose of the purpose.

 

Are Purpose-Driven Brands Born or Made?

Both and neither. Some brands are founded in purpose, we can all name a few. Other brands grow into purpose. Both are as legitimate as their ability to stick to their ethos. It’s important for both types of purpose-driven brands to be authentic. Just because a brand is founded in purpose doesn’t mean it won’t lose its way. And just because a brand develops purpose doesn’t entirely absolve them from past actions. All brands should be very careful with their initiatives because consumers are getting fantastic at sniffing out disingenuous missions. These disingenuous missions create consumer distrust and may even run afoul of today’s cancel culture. A brand is better off doing nothing than taking on duplicitous or insincere purpose-driven initiatives.

 

If your company is considering a purpose-driven plan, please download our guide and call us. We can help you and your team navigate the exciting opportunities – and avoid the pitfalls – for purpose-driven brands.

What is a Purpose-driven strategy? It’s the natural evolution of four converging cultural changes, the first is when social, cultural, and environmental issues became more visible and urgent, followed by consumers who expect brands to connect with nonprofits or social impact, driven by a lack of confidence in government to solve big problems, and finally, institutional investors evaluating environmental, social governance (ESG). Purpose puts a movement and impact first. Purpose-driven companies understand when society, the environment, and our collective well-being are doing well—businesses do better too.

Purpose-Driven Strategies have Three Key Pillars:

Employee and Systemic Engagement, Externally Virtuous, Meaty Measurable. 

These pillars of purpose require a company to be engaged in a systemic way, are independent of sales, and the impact should be both audacious and measurable. While purpose-driven strategies may give way to recruiting advantages, brand valuation, and competitive advantages, those are not the driving outcomes behind purpose. Purpose-driven PR is not the driving motivation behind purpose-driven implementations. The defining commitment of purpose is when it takes precedence over profitswhen internal culture is SO strong, so empowered, that decisions at all levels are made with a purpose in mind.

These Purpose Driven Strategy distinctions are important—because consumers—AND Investors are savvier than ever: They see through cause marketing campaigns with little authenticity. They’re alert to saying one thing, but doing another -greenwashing is so common it had a name.  Distrust in governments continued to decrease, while expectations of businesses continued to increase.

Purpose-driven strategies differ from the historical ways brands engaged with movements and nonprofits.

The Difference Between Purpose Driven Strategies and Philanthropy

The difference between purpose-driven strategies and philanthropy is based on the level of engagement the company commits to. Traditionally philanthropy was a broad term used to describe when a business contributed to a cause – anything from a social nonprofit to fundinga building or a program at a college. This type of giving required very little else from the company outside of the donation. Companies often used philanthropy to attract other monied investors or achive other strategic goals, but on the surface, having a philanthropic donation very often align with a marketing campaign or a PR campaign. Philanthropy also usually had very little to do with employees and customer activism or interests.

The Difference Between Purpose Driven Strategies and Corporate Giving

That gave way to CORPORATE GIVING –programs. The United Way is an outstanding example of corporate giving, this is when an organization encourages its employees to unite behind a single cause to create a greater donation scale. At this stage, companies get more involved as multiple departments such as PR, or HR to create systems and messaging around corporate giving. Companies whose employees give a lot receive recognition in the community. Corporate giving gave employees the opportunity to easily give to an organization; some corporate giving programs allow employees to choose a cause that was important to them, but in the most traditional sense, the executive team partnered with a nonprofit to create a corporate giving program.

The Difference Between Purpose Driven Strategies and Cause Marketing

CAUSE MARKETING are initiatives that tied sales to a corporate donation  – started in 1983 when Amex donated a penny to restoring the Statue of Liberty every time someone used their card—cardholders grew 45% and card usage increased by 28%. By 2013, 76% of consumers thought it was OK for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time. Before we knew it, there was a cause marketing campaign everywhere we looked, from pink ribbons to yogurt lids. Enterprises like Hersheys even had internal positions that combined marketing & corporate social responsibility.

If you’re interested in implementing purpose-driven strategies at your company, check out our free guide to implementing purpose. 

Cannabis PR is changing as fast as the cannabis industry is changing. Our 3 tips for cannabis brands to make news and engage journalists include incorporating larger consumer and cultural trends.

In order to secure earned media today, cannabis brands need to think competitively and creatively. In order to secure press coverage, tomorrow’s biggest cannabis brands need to think about larger cultural trends and what’s affecting society, the industry, and the media all at once. What’s more, out of chaos comes opportunity. Uncertainty makes consumers ask big personal questions – and this can be an opportune time to key into changing priorities. People questioning their priorities in light of the pandemic are a heterogeneous group, they don’t belong to any one demographic or generation.

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Purpose vs. Activism in Cannabis

For consumers in a state of change, Accenture found that buying motivations have shifted. Trust & Reputation ranked over Ease and Convenience and product Origin. 66% said they now expect brands to take more responsibility in motivating them to live by their values and to make them feel more relevant in the world, according to the same Accenture report.

Cannabis has a long history with activism; it’s part of the culture. As the cannabis industry has grown, so have the causes. As a cannabis PR firm, we will never discourage our clients from activism or supporting causes.

If your customers are within the cannabis industry, you’re a B2B cannabis company, then there are some really interesting and important causes, including sobriety, equity, and racial justice to engage in to support the growth, maturity, and reputation of the cannabis industry. Some activist movements within cannabis have failed to catch fire outside the cannabis industry. While many of these initiatives are extremely worthy, few of them have caught on with the broader consumer base. And that’s OK because there are long-term advantages for the industry, but they may or may not be media-worthy.

However, if you’re looking to secure press with your brand activism, or you’re looking to engage your customer through purpose, then it’s time to think creatively about the campaigns. Look deeply at the activist causes you invest in, because consumers today expect brands to engage based on corporate values, which means the brand has to live it’s purpose, not just promote its purpose.

Cannabis consumers today are hardly a niche. Consumer cannabis brands need to think globally and be able to act consistently in order to activate on purpose. Consider these 3 tips to maximize earned media in 2022.

 

Products vs. Experience

A large post-pandemic trend continues to be consumers, particularly younger consumers, craving experiences over products. Cannabis brands should be looking at newsworthy activations that include experiences. While there are limitations for cannabis brands, this is a time to be creative in the ways you engage the press for launches and activations. Simply launching a cannabis product these days isn’t newsworthy. Attaching a celebrity is less newsworthy today than it was 2 years ago, especially as celebrities launch their own cannabis brands. In order for the press to pick up on it, there needs to be a newsworthy story.

Also, be thinking about what markets have the most journalists and editors. Creating an activation in Kansas might make local news in Kansas, but it’s unlikely to inspire NY or CA journalists. Another option is to do activations within other events, be they cannabis trade shows or cannabis-friendly consumer events or even outstanding activations around big events that get covered in the press. It’s really time to be creative.

 

Collab Outside of Cannabis

How can your brand collab with brands outside of cannabis?

There is still media appetite for interesting collabs. The recent Bic Lighters campaign with Snoop and Martha Stewart was a brilliant example of collaboration outside of cannabis. Extremely well thought out and ongoing, it’s successful because it’s cheeky, memorable, and creative. For most cannabis brands the collaboration could include an experience (like a fashion show) or they can include a purpose (environmental, for example), or they could include a special product.

The key to choosing collabs is to think way in advance and activate in a 360 way – don’t start thinking about a 420 collab in February. Major brands and outlets plan these kinds of activations way in advance, but thinking ahead will generate significant advantages.

 

2022 promises a great deal of exciting cannabis industry products and news, but in order to cut through the noise, cannabis brands need to think about what makes news, what engages journalists, and where they can make an impact on culture.

 

PR WITH PURPOSE


Companies face an interesting challenge. Clients and customers are demanding that companies engage in social impact. Yet, in today’s cancel culture world, navigating purpose-driven initiatives or social impact programs takes a deft and emotionally intelligent touch.

That’s where we come in: we build brand value and communities from the inside out.

We’re a modern digitally forward agency that combines emotional intelligence with strategy and data to enhance reputations and credibility. We’re a team of big thinkers with an eye for detail. We dive straight into your purpose to find the connective tissue your clients or customers respond to. We’re fiercely protective of your reputation, tenacious in securing press coverage, and nimble enough to service brands in our dynamic times.

PURPOSE DRIVEN PR WITH SOCIAL IMPACT AND HEART

A SELECTION OF OUR PURPOSE DRIVEN PR CAMPAIGNS AND SOCIAL IMPACT RESULTS

OUR SOCIAL IMPACT, B-CORP AND PURPOSE-DRIVEN PR INSIGHTS

Purpose Driven Strategies