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.

why brand values matter to consumers

Why Brand Values Matter to Consumers, Now More Than Ever

The proof is in the numbers

It’s more and more competitive to capture consumer attention, that’s why brand values matter to consumers more than ever. It’s getting harder and harder for brands to create positive impressions in the minds of consumers. Negative impressions tend to linger longer in our minds, and unfortunately for brands who try to make a positive impact on the world, there are innumerable examples of companies doing the exact opposite. From wanton environmental degradation and exploiting workers to harvesting users’ personal data without permission and companies bending to the will of authoritarian regimes abroad, we’re awash in stories about bad corporate actors.

 

This is all the more frustrating for companies who are trying to set good examples of what socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneurship looks like. When you’re trying to do the right thing and your message is drowned out by a sea of reckless and irresponsible businesses, it can feel hopeless.

 

Don’t worry, consumers will take note of your brand values efforts

 

However, companies who are truly committed to building a better world can take solace in one powerful fact: Consumers are on their side. As more and more stories about corporations behaving badly surface, consumers are increasingly looking for alternatives. These more environmentally and socially conscious consumers want to know that their purchases are going toward a good cause, and they want to see companies take a stand on social, environmental, and political issues.

 

When you consider the current political and social environment, together with increasing evidence of climate change, this change in consumer preferences becomes even more obvious. People don’t want to contribute to the destruction of our planet, and they want to support companies who are working to disrupt or improve the current status quo. Why wouldn’t they choose to buy from purpose driven-brands?

 

The proof is in the numbers

 

There’s plenty of research to back up these claims. Take this 2018 study from Accenture. They surveyed nearly 30,000 consumers from around the world about their purchasing decisions and the brands they support. Accenture found that 63 percent of the consumers they surveyed preferred to support brands that reflect their values and beliefs.

 

There’s more: Accenture also found:

  • 65 percent of consumers prefer to support companies treat their employees well,
  • 62 percent of those surveyed preferred to buy from companies that try to reduce their use of plastics and want to improve the environment.
  • 62 percent of those surveyed also wanted the brands they support to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental, and political issues that they care about.

 

Accenture is not alone in their findings. A 2018 study from the research agency Edelman found that 64 percent of consumers will either buy from or boycott a brand based solely on the brand’s stances on social or political issues, which highlights the challenge for brands. This is why a brand-friendly PR firm is so important, we can help you navigate the risks and opportunities that optimize purpose-driven communication. The survey included over 8,000 people in eight different markets worldwide, and the researchers also found that 53 percent of those surveyed believed that brands could do more to inspire social change than governments can. Regardless of whether brands really have that power, consumers increasingly believe that they do and are basing their-decision deciding accordingly.

 

These trends in buying habits are particularly pronounced among one key demographic: Teenagers. A 2018 report from MediaCom found several important statistics related to teenagers’ buying habits and the brands they support. The survey found that 54 percent of teens age 16-19 had deliberately bought or stopped buying from brands because of the brands’ ethics. The research also found that 63 percent of teens are more likely to buy from brands that support causes or charities they believe in. However, skepticism among teens concerning brands is still rampant, as 37 percent of those surveyed were doubtful of brands’ claims regarding the causes they support and 69 percent believe brands overstate their level of support for their chosen causes.

 

Taken together, these data points represent a massive swing in consumer decision-making habits. In the past, many companies stayed away from social or political causes out of fear or because they didn’t want to risk a backlash from consumers. But the data show that if brands take a stand on social issues and can demonstrate their authenticity, consumers will respond positively and adjust their buying habits.

 

We can already see how major organizations are taking this data and incorporating it into their marketing efforts. The shoe company Toms has donated one pair of shoes for every pair sold since its founding 13 years ago, making it an exemplar for other businesses to follow. Additionally, Toms has become a certified B-Corp, meaning they meet strict standards for accountability, transparency, and social and environmental impact. Finally, Toms has also pledged to spend at least one-third of its annual net profits on charitable causes, which is much more than most other corporations can say.

 

So, where does this leave your brand if you’re dedicated to making the world a better place? It’s simple really: You need to get that message out to consumers, and you need to do so in a way that’s genuine. That may be a challenge for some companies and some PR agencies, but not for Avaans PR. Helping purpose-driven brands get their message across is what we do, and we can create a campaign for you that plays to your unique strengths.

 

How Avaans PR Can Help with Brand Values

 

We’ve already helped a number of brands do exactly this. In one case, we worked with a nonprofit organization focused on helping pre-Kindergarten students from economically disadvantaged families become better students. We had to create compelling content aimed at two very different audiences: The families who needed help and state legislators considering funding more early education problems.

 

We kept the design of our content simple, using visuals wherever we could, and maintaining a supportive tone throughout. This encouraged families to share content with one another and avoided coming across as paternalistic or lecturing, which also helped to avoid alienating decision-makers at the state level. And the campaign worked: The state legislature funded the early education problems, and we generated over 401,000 impressions among our targeted audience during the length of our six-month campaign.

 

If your brand is seeking to expand its reach and you’re not sure where to begin, we want to help. You can set up a call with our team by visiting our contact page, or you can find us locally in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Honolulu, and Phoenix. We look forward to hearing from you.

Social Impact PR

Building The Future Hand in Hand with Parents with Social Impact PR

THE CHALLENGE

Our client is a grant-receiving organization whose mission is to prepare pre-K children to become successful students. Of the audience served, many parents are economically disadvantaged and rely more heavily on their native language than English. There is another audience: the state legislature who is considering early education programs in its budget. Our legislative content must strike a delicate balance of advocating without alienating decision-makers.

THE SOLUTION

Our campaign strategy is to utilize social media as the primary communication method with parents and caregivers. We choose this method since many economically disadvantaged families access the internet only through their mobile phones and rely on social media to communicate with one another and geo-diverse family members. Our content needed to speak directly to parents, and be creatively sourced since the organization had no in-house photos or videos with social media permissions. We also felt content needed a peer-to-peer tone versus a “paternalistic” or “educator” tone. We purposely kept the content accessible through simple language and basic design; we felt overly polished content would feel inauthentic and too promotional to the primary audience of parents and caregivers.

CONTENT STRATEGY


Our content included fun activities for families to do together, alongside educational messages sourced from Vroom, an early education app which provides age-based activities for parents & caregivers with the science-based insights on how these activities impact early education. We ensured visuals included diverse examples of families relatable to the target audience and ensured posts could be translated on social platforms by incorporating it into the post. We also developed a series of social-specific videos for use in advertising and organic posts.

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT


We monitored social platforms for questions and comments while also encouraging parents and caregivers to share with one another.

COLLABORATION


We engaged other area-based non-profits who shared our target audience to provide more complete resources to our community while also engaging their audiences as well.

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT


We sourced information and developed all social content including copywriting, video, and, social graphics, for parents and caregivers with an eye towards engaging the audience with easy-to-understand, supportive messaging.

SOCIAL ADS


Since our community was new and there was an urgency behind the message, we utilized social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram to ensure the messages reached the correct target audiences consistently.

STRATEGIC ADVISEMENT


We provided data-driven strategies and recommendations about utilizing the content, how the audience received the information, what they most responded to, and ways to incorporate it across platforms.

THE PR RESULTS

401K+


Content brand impressions by target audience during 6-month geo-targeted campaign.

52% 


Engagement rate on owned content including videos and social visuals.

1


Because community support was so clear to elected officials, the state legislature passed a bill funding early education programs serving 3-4 year-olds, particularly those who are economically challenged.

Building Community Around Purpose

THE PR CHALLENGE

Our client, a beta platform to provide parents with controls and tools for their kids’s social media usage was ramping up extremely quickly. They needed market research, but also needed real-time qualitative feedback to inform UX, branding and messaging.

THE PR SOLUTION

Since the target audience of parents was on social media and the product addressed key parental concerns on social media, our strategy was to utilize the platforms to create awareness of the product while also providing on-going feedback and community. We developed a strategy which gave parents early access while also offering them a place to discuss online safety with one another. We lead with community development and encouraged loyalty by providing a “safe space” for parents seeking resources. The community received early access to the tools and their conversations informed messaging and product development. Through a blend of owned content including organic social media and blogs, we provided resources and guidance to parents looking for advice surrounding social media. We engaged parental influencers and mental health experts to provide emotional support. All owned content was integrated into product development, PR and marketing initiatives.

STRATEGIC ADVISEMENT


In addition to providing community management services, we also ensured internal team members were empowered to engage their audience through community management training to ensure integrated internal understanding of the consumer and community.

DATA DRIVEN COMMUNICATIONS


Through social and media listening, we developed a data-driven feedback loop used in all marketing and communications, resulting in timely messages for use in marketing & media relations.

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT


While providing social media resources to parents in the community, we also tested content types and styles to see what resonated most strongly with parents.

INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT


We identified and engaged influencers who resonated with parents to review the product in both beta and pre-launch mode.

“From strategic planning to implementation, (they) demonstrated their expertise…truly a pleasure to work with,”


Jeana D.,
Marketing Director

THE PR RESULTS

2.8 Million


Organic digital brand impressions across social platforms including Facebook & Twitter.

252,000


Average monthly unique people reach on owned digital properties.

300% 


Increase in organic Facebook impressions. Our community of engaged parents and influencers were sharing tips & hints and engaging with our client’s tool providing essential feedback for both product development and communications teams.

social impact public relations

Creating Social Impact with Movements that Matter

Whether you’re a nonprofit with a cause or a startup with an idea, at some point, I’m sure you’ve wondered whether your passion would ever catch spark with others. Social impact is here to stay. Creating a movement that matters is more important today than ever before.

It’s clear, what fuels movements is more art than science and not everyone has the advantage of chemically inspired insanity. The idea matters, but it’s really the tipping point, created with art AND science, that creates movements that matter.

We’ve learned a few things about social impact movements over the years, and I wanted to share with you some key insights I’ve found in creating movements with true social impact.

Social Proof Is Important for Movements That Matter

Relatively quickly, it will be important to develop your followers. You’ll need to show you aren’t alone in this idea. BUT, you’ll need those followers to be just as into your idea as you are. These “early adopters” have distinct profiles – figure them out and speak to them. This is the time vs. money stage. There are plenty of things you can do for free, but they take time. Decide which is your most valuable resource.

Social Media Matters – But So Does Real Life for True Social Impact

Social media isn’t where ideas are born, it’s where ideas are spread. The idea and the collaboration of said idea almost always takes place offline. Don’t be afraid to use your offline connections, whether they’re on social media or not, to help fuel your movement.

And don’t discount traditional PR tactics as well, they play nice with social media and one will help the other. And the endgame isn’t about HOW it happens, it’s THAT it happens. Give your movement every chance it has to survive.

Tweet: “Give your movement every chance it has to survive.” – @taracoomans

Passion or Quantity?

You’ll want influencers, but you’ll want to make very sure your target audience relates to them, even if they don’t totally resonate with you.  You aren’t communicating to you, you’re trying to get some collective steam. And your influencer’s community is balanced by the passion of that community.  There’s an inverse correlation of a number of followers to passion. Think of it as a circle, the bigger the circle, the further from the center more and more people are. So ask yourself, does passion matter more than people? The answer may surprise you.

Tweet: “There’s an inverse correlation of number of followers to passion.” – @taracoomans

Movements That Matter Peak At The Right Time


It’s true with all public relations messaging and especially with social impact movements. Just about the time you’re tired of seeing the same messaging is about the time that anyone takes notice. Again, inverse effect, you say “no one’s responding,” just as they are starting to take notice. Breathe.

Tipping points have a timeline of their own, you can’t rush them. It WILL happen.

The bigger concern is peaking at the right time. Peaking at the right time could correlate to internal or external deadlines. What happens if your movement peaks too early? Will you be ready?  You can’t totally plan for peak time, but you should make sure you don’t peak too early. Think about what peaking at the exact right moment looks like and work backward from there – what’s it going to take (planning, time, money, people)  to create enough energy for that exact moment? And remember, in a world where we’re constantly inundated with messages, rallying people usually takes longer than you think it should. They used to say that it takes 7 exposures to a message for someone to remember the message, in today’s message cluttered world, I’d put that at closer to twelve.

You’ll Know When The Tipping Point Happens

If you don’t know whether you’ve hit the tipping point, then you haven’t yet. When tipping points happen, there is nothing you can do to stop them. You are no longer in control. This is a crucial moment. As Derek says, you want to treat your community as equals, empower them, let them stand for you. Conversely, at this point, you’ll need to be more and more clear on your message. I’ve seen movements become something completely different than the original intent because of unclear messaging at this point. Social impact movements that turn into disorganized mob scenes aren’t effective, even if they are riveting to watch. Mob scenes are good for word of mouth, but they aren’t very good for conversion.

Tweet: “Mob scenes are good for word of mouth, but they aren’t very good for conversion.”- @taracoomans

PS:When you’re feeling alone and isolated about your movement, watch this this short TedTalk by Derek Sivers.

Epically true, right?  I love this line: “The first follower is actually an underrated form of leadership.” What’s you’re biggest take away?