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B-corps are uniquely positioned to be storytellers. But how does PR for B-Corps differ?

Is purpose all it takes to thrive?

 

You started your company to make a difference in the world. You know it, your team knows it, and your loyalty and customers know and believe in your product and your mission. So, how do you expand your reach? How can others find you in an increasingly crowded B-corp marketplace?How do successful B-corps PR make a difference in the brands of tomorrow?

This is an issue no matter what industry you’re in; the audience for your product or service may be larger than ever, and there may be more ways to reach them, but there are also more competitors out there looking to connect with that same audience. This is where a focused and strategic public relations campaign can help.

Expanding your awareness beyond traditional marketing campaigns is especially vital for companies who aren’t focused solely on profits and want to make a positive impact on the world. Becoming a certified B-Corporation isn’t easy, as it requires meeting exacting standards regarding accountability, transparency, and social and environmental impact. After going through the rigorous certification process to obtain B-Corporation status, it’s deeply discouraging if you can’t get your message out to those who want to hear it.

Should B-Corps Leverage PR Over Other Channels?

So, what are your options if you’re a B-Corporation looking to expand your reach? You could try the traditional tools: TV advertising, ads on social media, content marketing, direct mail, and so on. But these tools require significant resources that not all companies have, and worse still, there are signs that they are increasingly ineffective. One study showed that 86 percent of people skip or ignore TV advertisements, 44 percent of direct mail is never opened, and 91 percent of email users end up unsubscribing from company email lists they had previously opted into. These tools may work if you have the resources for a large, prolonged campaign, but they’re not feasible for many organizations.

A better approach for B-Corporations is to let other brands tell their story for them through a strategic public relations campaign. This may seem a bit counterintuitive; after all, you’re giving up control of your message when you use PR instead of more direct marketing or advertising tools. But for many people and businesses, getting a story from a brand they trust is more impactful than when companies try to engage them directly.

Is there any research that proves this theory? In fact, there’s quite a bit of it. A study from the Content Marketing Institute showed that 80 percent of business decision makers and 70 percent of customers prefer to get information on a company from articles rather than ads.

Is PR More Effective for B-Corps?

Why is it that so many people seem to prefer reading about a company in an article rather than seeing an ad from the company directly? For one thing, advertisements can be very pushy, and they have a way of inserting themselves when you’re trying to do something else. If a businessperson or customer comes across an engaging article about a company, however, they can choose to read it when and how they want, on their own terms.

The other reason people prefer to read about a company in articles is trust. Savvy decision-makers and cynical consumers are often skeptical of the messages they receive through advertisements, social media posts, and other types of marketing with a more direct approach. They know that they’re being marketed to, and they’re suspicious that the message and information they’re receiving may be untrue or misleading.

On the other hand, if they get that same information from an outlet that they already know and trust, they’re more likely to be receptive to the message and believe it. This is particularly true for the Millennial generation; research shows that Millennials are 247 percent more likely to be influenced by blogs and social media sites than are older generations. Similarly, 96 percent of B2B buyers are looking to read more content from industry thought leaders, and 93 percent of B2B buyers begin their buying process with an online search. If you can get articles in well-known, respected publications, you’ll rank highly in online search results — and there’s an eager group of businesses who are waiting to hear from you.

This isn’t to say that PR can’t function in conjunction with other tools to help your business grow. In fact, that’s exactly how PR should work. By getting information about your company into relevant and respected publications, consumers and other businesses can learn more about what you do. From there, you can direct them from the articles to your business’ website, social media pages, and other venues where you can engage them more directly.

 

How To Use B-Corp PR with Other Channels

That’s exactly what we do at Avaans Media. We are experts at harnessing traditional PR tools as well as newer marketing strategies, to help purpose-driven brands find success in the marketplace. No matter what you do or what your goals are, we will help you grow and thrive by crafting a strategy uniquely tailored to your strengths.

Here’s one example of how we can use PR to help your business. Our client was looking to break into the consumer packaged goods industry with a range of hemp-based products. Despite the differences between hemp and marijuana, many consumers were unfamiliar with these kinds of products or had negative views of them. We knew we needed purpose-driven campaigns.

To help our client reach their goals, we took a multi-pronged approach that increased their brand awareness and shaped their public image in a positive direction. We celebrated purpose throughout our campaigns, from health and wellness to global sustainability.  We leveraged our media contacts to generate more than 200 articles about the company over three years, averaging five articles per month. These articles generated more than 10 billion earned media impressions over those three years, with an estimated value of over $5 million dollars. By the time the client was ready for their initial public offering, the company’s share price had risen by more than 300 percent, and much of that increase can be attributed to our campaign.

 

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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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There are only so executive speaking spots in a given year.

Securing an executive speaking engagement is an honor, so if your  PR and marketing plan includes pitching trade show organizers, it’s never too early to get your house in order. Every conference opens calls for speakers differently and every conference accepts pitches differently, but if you get your house in order submitting for speaking engagements will become exciting and fun!

1. Do Your Homework 

Before you submit your industry speaking pitch, take a look at the speaker FAQ page, if one doesn’t exist, send an email to the conference organizer asking what topics they’re seeking and what parameters you should consider before submitting.  As a former conference organizer, it always surprised me how many questions we received which were readily available in the FAQ; alternatively, when I received questions, it was always a welcomed opportunity to hear what was unclear and how we could improve.

Review past speakers and talk to attendees at the conference, if you haven’t been yourself. Find out who the most successful presenters were and why the audience loved them so much. Review the conference hashtag and see who people talked about and why. Take a look at relevant magazine headlines, where are the emerging industry stories and can you tap into that in your presentation? Before you start pitching, do your travel budget because most executive speakers pay their own way.

Take a servant-leadership mentality and really think about who the audience is and how you can add real value to their business.

2. Consider the Organizer’s Needs

During your pitch, it’s not about you. It’s about how you can add value to the conference organizer and attendees. Take stock of your recent PR wins and use them as social proof. Conference organizers want to be sure their limited presentation spots are filled by people attendees want to hear from. The conference organizer’s job is to get people in the door, enough people to make exhibitors and sponsors thrilled by attendance – many people are so focused on promoting their key messages in the pitch they forget about the audience when they’re submitting for a speaking engagement.

Regardless, when you’re developing your pitch, don’t shy away from pointing out how your topic is timely and relevant to the specific audience the conference is trying to attract and why the attendees will be thrilled by your presentation. Articulating how you will drive traffic to the conference will also get an organizer’s attention.

Help the organizer visualize how you can help them, point out your strengths:

Conference organizers are also drowning in applications. Sifting through speaker applications is often like sifting through resumes, it’s monotonous, so speak directly to the conference organizer’s needs in your blurb. For this reason, some conferences are largely pay-to-play, speaker slots are primarily reserved for industry heavy hitters and sponsors or those willing to pay the conference organizer a fee. In that case, you have three choices: become an industry heavy-hitter by using the many PR and content avenues open to you, sponsor the conference, or blow them out of the water the other 4 tips presented here. Want to guarantee a speaker spot? Do all of it.

 

3. Develop Your Distinct Point of View

Be a Bold Thinker

Be bold, be current and don’t be afraid to take a strong stand on an industry or cultural topic. A strong point of view and a strong title will go along way. If you’re unwilling to take a bold stand, then think about sharing an insightful case study that transparently digs deep into what went right and what went wrong.

Be an Expert:

Share your distinct expertise, give the attendees something no one else can give them. Develop 1-2 memorable, quotable statements which you’ll use in your pitch and during your presentation that illustrates your distinct point of view. Show the conference organizers that you’ll have the attendees talking about your presentation.

4. Get Your Assets In Order

Because executive speaking engagements are competitive, make sure your house is in order.  One key element is all your public-facing assets. You might say that you don’t have time for this, but if you look around, the conference speakers who always get the gig do these things – even CEOs.

Social Media

For example, kick it into gear on social media. Many conference organizers will look at your personal and cannabis brand’s social media to get a sense of how engaged you are with the cannabis industry and whether the industry views your CEO or brand as leading in some way. Use your social media strategically and be sure to engage your audience.

Company Website

Create a speaker’s page on your blog with sample topics and presentations you’re prepared to give. Social media is another straightforward way for conference organizers to differentiate executive speakers.

Content

Make sure your headshot is professional, develop some industry blogs for your website that reflect your thought leadership. Use LinkedIn for those pieces as well.  For these pieces, you can think of quality over quantity.

Do a Google search on your name so you know what the conference organizer will see when they look you up,  take the necessary steps to improve the search in advance of your speaking pitches.

If you’re new to speaking at the conference, be prepared to submit a video of yourself presenting on your topic and a letter of recommendation from a communications professional or industry professional.

5. Be Human & Personalize

Speaking at industry conferences is an honor, and yes, a great opportunity. Remember to be authentic and genuine in your speaker pitch. Make your pitch empathetic and about the industry and the organizer, show that you really understand that it’s your job to make your presentation great, not the other way around.

What Does PR Do?

There are more ways than ever for brands to communicate directly with prospective customers, investors, and stakeholders. Along with traditional marketing platforms like TV, radio, print, and billboard advertising, alternative methods such as social media and YouTube give companies even more ways to tell their story to their audience. Also, new data tools let you target that message with a level of precision that would have been unthinkable in the past.

And yet, there are still limits to what traditional advertising, and even social media can accomplish. Being so exposed to the constant deluge of marketing and advertising around them has made many consumers skeptical of most brands. One study from Ragan found that 86 percent of TV viewers skip or ignore ads, 44 percent of direct mail is never opened, and 91 percent of email users had unsubscribed from a company email list that they had initially opted into.

What’s more, consumers are becoming much more selective about which brands they support, and are increasingly shifting toward brands that are more involved in political or social causes. Unlike in the past, new research shows that consumers want brands to get involved in social issues. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 67 percent of employees expect their employers to take a stand on issues that employees care about.

Edelman also found that 71 percent of employees believe their CEO should respond to social and political challenges. This follows trends among the public, as 76 percent of everyone surveyed by Edelman said that CEOs should take a leading role in addressing society’s problems instead of waiting for governments to act.

However, while more people are expecting businesses to get involved in political causes, skepticism remains about many brands’ intentions. This is especially true when it comes to younger audiences, a core demographic for many brands. A 2018 report from the research agency MediaCom found that 37 percent of teens age 16-19 were skeptical of the claims brands made about the causes they support, and 69 percent of teens said they believe brands overstate their support for charitable or social causes.

 

How PR Can Help You Reach Even More People

How can brands counter this entrenched skepticism to persuade new and existing customers? One tool you may not have considered is public relations. With so many more ways for brands to spread their own message to consumers, many companies have neglected the value of PR. But if building trust authentically is what you’re after, then you can’t ignore what a well-crafted PR campaign offers.

If marketing and advertising are the tools brands use to tell their story, PR is the art of getting others to tell that story for you. While it may seem counterintuitive for brands to put their faith in having other people tell their story, there are benefits from good PR that can’t be matched by marketing and advertising.

First and foremost, we’ve already noted how consumers have become increasingly distrustful of the messages they get directly from brands. PR circumvents that issue by having a third party mediate your message. There’s an element of faith involved here, but consumers are more likely to trust your message if it comes from a brand they already trust.

 

How Can I Be Sure That PR Works?

There’s already plenty of data to back up these claims. The Content Marketing Institute found that 70 percent of consumers prefer to get information on a company from articles as opposed to ads. This is even more true among businesses; CMI also found that 80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to learn about a company from articles instead of ads. Lastly, HubSpot found that Millennials are 247 percent more likely to be influenced by blogs and social media than by traditional advertising.

Brands who take advantage of what PR can do have an advantage over those who ignore these potential benefits. Getting articles about your company into trustworthy publications will generate more engagement and goodwill than even the strongest, most effective ad campaign. For brands that are purpose-driven, this kind of PR is priceless.

Frankly, more brands should be promoting themselves as values-based and purpose-driven. It’s a good business strategy; the MediaCom report we mentioned above found that 54 percent of the teens surveyed said they had bought from or intentionally avoided specific brands because of their ethics and values. MediaCom also found that 63 percent of teens said they were more likely to buy from a brand that supported causes or charities that the teens cared about. But consumers hold brands to high standards, so it’s important that companies back up their words with concrete actions and policies.

This is another area where an experienced, innovative PR team can help in ways most marketing teams can’t. A PR campaign will help you shape the narrative around your company, its mission, and its goals. Furthermore, a PR firm can help your brand solidify its position and clear up any misconceptions by putting the right information where your audience will see it.

How Avaans PR Can Help

Avaans Media has a strong track record of helping brands tell their story in an interesting, creative way. Take our work for a hemp-based wellness brand. We had our work cut out for us with this campaign, as we had to establish the validity of hemp-based products in the consumer packaged-goods space despite skepticism from many prospective customers. But by harnessing our media contacts and crafting a campaign across a range of business, science, and lifestyle publications, we were able to place more than 200 stories about our client over a period of three years, averaging five stories every month.

Ready to find out what PR can do for you? Contact us here. 

 

Telling your company story is imperative and corporate storytelling is as much of an art form as writing a novel.

Yes, a PR company can help, but in order to be effective AS a story, it needs to be told and re-told, which means everyone has to be able and willing to tell the story. Additionally, your story will influence your company culture, the way your customers relate to you, everything. It’s important to get the story right.

You’ve probably heard that there are only 7 basic stories ever written. Every single story falls into one of these categories – each its own journey:

Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
The Quest
Voyage and Return
Comedy
Tragedy
Rebirth

One of the great modern-day corporate stories is Steve Jobs returning to Apple after his humiliating exit. It’s a “Voyage and Return” story. Look closely at those stories. What’s missing? The motivation, the characters, the setting and/or place. This is where telling your story becomes individualized and authentic. Personally, I believe one of the most compelling story aspects is motivation, but setting/place can also set a compelling stage for the journey and the characters. What makes Steve Jobs return so compelling is the setting/the time. Apple was in trouble. Big trouble. It was his chance to return to his visionary roots and undoubtedly, his time away from Apple contributed to the turn-around.

So let’s look at a few of the OTHER elements that contribute to great corporate storytelling.

The Character

In corporate story-telling, the character can be a founder or the brand. The best brands have personalities all of their own. One of my absolute favorite brands is Coca-Cola. For over 30 years, their brand has been a happy one, spreading joy around the world. I envision Coca-Cola’s brand persona as a group of people from around the world smiling together and laughing together as the life of the party, the center of the action, the group everyone gathers around. Notice how my character is defined by the setting (the world, the party), we’ll get to the setting in a minute. The point is to envision your brand as a persona, who are they? Are they serious or comedic? Are they reserved or wild? Are they old or young? Your brand is as complex as a person, so you can enjoy the multiple aspects of your brand, but the important thing is to choose no more than 1-2 personality elements to focus on. Simplicity creates powerful brands, and multiple personalities muddle them.

Keep in mind, in our example of Steve Jobs,  Steve Jobs doesn’t make the story compelling, Steve Jobs is more compelling (as a character, an icon) because of the story. This is true of all stories – the character is made great by the other elements of the story, not the other way around. Without the other elements in the story, there are no compelling characters.

Motivation and/or Inspiration

Marketers will recognize this is “The Why.”   What’s the compelling motivation behind the main character’s actions? Is it service? Is it retribution? Is it righting a wrong? Is it glory?  Great motivations drive action. Sometimes, in novels or films, a truly compelling character will have conflicting motivations, this can be true in corporate storytelling as well. For example, perhaps the character is driven by both the need to serve and glory. Humans often have conflicting motivations, but for the purposes of corporate story-telling, it’s most effective to emphasis one motivation. In corporate story-telling, we rarely have 1,000 or more pages to develop our character’s motivation. Focus on a single motivation as the driver.

Interestingly, using the above example of Steve Jobs’ motivation, in the corporate story about Jobs’ return, the motivation is left absent. This is brilliant because it leaves us all to wonder and speculate what his motivation really was. Personally, I believe the reason its left out of this corporate story is it’s probably unflattering, but leaving it out makes the motivation as absent even more powerful than if it had been included.

The Setting/Time

In corporate story-telling, the setting and time are often represented as the “ah-ha” moment, which is made richer by what was happening to the character or in the world at that moment. Was the character liberated? Frustrated? Was there an event that triggered the action? Perhaps the setting/time impacted the motivation and most certainly impacted the action.

Take for example the Coca-Cola brand, they started spreading joy at a time when globalism was really first taking hold, also during a time of great cultural upheaval for the United States, 1971. The “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” is considered the world’s most famous commercial and it’s joy and happiness is in direct contrast to what was happening in the United States at the time. Somehow, the brand of Coke delivered a much-needed smile to America. In fact, the story behind the creation has similar-it happened under frustrating circumstances.   Coca-Cola didn’t hold a mirror up to us, it provided us with an escape. Since then, Coca-Cola has always focused on creating moments of joyous respite, during the best of times and the worst of times.

 

Keep in mind, while you must have all these components in a story, one of these components will be the star in your corporate storytelling. In the Coca-Cola brand example, the star is the setting. In the Steve Jobs story, the star is the journey.

If it’s time to create or reinforce your story, begin with taking stock of these elements, determine where your strength is and be sure to simplify your story so it’s easy to tell. If you’re “stuck” with your story, contact us. We will help you create a story worth telling and even work with you to create content that tells your story.