Tag Archive for: purpose-driven PR

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. 

On the surface, it might seem that purpose-driven companies are vastly different from hyper-growth companies or emerging industries, but nothing could be further from the truth. Purpose-driven perspectives for hyper-growth and emerging industries is actually imperative to future success. Hyper-growth and purpose overlap in critical phases in a company’s or industry’s growth. Because fast-growing companies and emerging industries are closer to their customers and in the earlier phases of culture-building, purpose is more clear, and it’s actually the perfect time to codify purpose so as scale occurs, the purpose isn’t lost.

 

Isn’t Social Impact too Expensive for Growth?

While fast-growing companies have certain cultural requirements: creativity, flexibility, and drive, none of these things limit purpose. This very question assumes that growth only happens when hustle culture dominates. We have many clients thriving in purpose without the debilitating effects of hustle culture. But even if your company is incubating a hustle culture mentality, when the stakes are higher than ever, people need a higher purpose that inspires them. So it’s important for companies in the growth stage to double down on brand and product purpose. In fact, purpose may be a matter of survival, and not just PR for hypergrowth companies. At least according to Larry Fink at Blackrock who has for years been advocating for brands to implement purpose in order to grow.

Further, purpose is an expectation of GenZ and Millenials, that companies embrace their social, cultural, and environmental responsibilities. Further, employees are increasingly choosing employers based on the company’s beliefs and values. So, recruiting the best talent will if not now, eventually, require companies and industries to double down on purpose.

One example of this is the emerging vertical of the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry is founded in activism, but when the industry codified as states legalized THC, the industry doubled down on purpose, taking on the social injustice of cannabis prisoners in the Last Prisoners Project. And the cannabis industry is exploding, so there’s a clear precedent for growth and purpose. Brands who take on purpose and a higher power super charge their hyper-growth.

 

When Do Hyper-Growth Companies Need to Define Purpose?

Growth stage companies have an advantage: history doesnt’ hinder them. Existing companies often have to go through an intense reorganization to discover and fulfill purpose. For hyper-growth companies or emerging industries, the time to determine purpose is now. Elevating your company’s biggest aspirations in alignment with today’s social, cultural, and environmental challenges is a key growth strategy. Both private and institutional investors are analyzing a company’s social impact before they ever commit to investing, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down.

Larry Fink, CEO and chairperson of the multinational investment firm BlackRock, created a tectonic shift in 2018 when he said, “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it contributes positively to society.” In his 2021 letter to CEOs, he said, “It is clear that being connected to stakeholders — establishing trust with them and acting with purpose — enables a company to understand and respond to the changes happening in the world. Companies ignore stakeholders at their peril — companies that do not earn this trust will find it harder and harder to attract customers and talent, especially as young people increasingly expect companies to reflect their values.”

Defining, developing and implementing purpose is step one to ensuring a company’s strategic growth.

How Does Purpose Driven PR Help Companies in Hyper-Growth?

A challenge many fast-growing businesses, especially those in emerging industries, face is brand building. Purpose is a considerable portion of a brand and while it gives internal and external stakeholders corporate structure, it also lends itself to authentic storytelling, which greatly aids in securing media coverage. For many companies in competitive emerging industries, PR is an important differentiator for those with industry-leading aspirations.

 

With all the advantages of purpose-driven initiatives for fast-growing companies. The question is reall- can fast-growing companies afford NOT to define a greater purpose? We’ve been working shoulder to shoulder with our clients on purpose-driven communications and PR since 2008. From movements to politics to social impact, our success stories speak for themselves. Contact us today to get started.

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?

Tag Archive for: purpose-driven PR

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