As a business, you may want to do things that give back to society and raise awareness around certain social, cultural and economic issues. This is fantastic as you can use your brand power to spread the word a lot farther than an individual could. As well as raising awareness and supporting serious issues, you benefit from improving your business reputation.
Ironically, this is where the struggle begins! Because you improve your reputation, there’s a tendency for people to look at your business and wonder if you truly care, or if this is simply a PR stunt for attention. This is made worse by the fact that some companies genuinely do this. It’s not unheard of for a company to act like they support a cause, but their real goal is to gain brand awareness and boost the public opinion of their business. Obviously, if your heart is in the right place, you don’t want people to assume this is a PR stunt or they might ignore it. So, how do you tread the fine line between PR stunts and genuine activism? Here are a few thoughts that should help you…
Work closely with activists
Your actions will take on more significance if you’re working with proper activists when deciding what to do. You can work with people like Joshua Virasami, that have experience organising political movements and making statements. You can also work with organisations or charities that do the same, and it will help you understand the path to take. It stops you from doing things that are perhaps too big on the PR side of things, focusing more on the message you convey.
Activism isn’t a one-time thing
The biggest way to tell if a business is trying to elicit change or making a PR stunt is to see if they follow it up. If it’s a one-time thing, they clearly don’t care much about the cause and did it for attention. As such, you can show your true intentions by following up and continuously pushing forth the messages you’re trying to get across. By continually supporting a movement and a cause, it shows you are genuinely interested in making positive changes. This is where activism is successful; you need to persistently keep shouting and pushing for changes, it’s not a one-time thing!
Make the movement the star of the show
When you support a movement, it should get all of the attention. Your business should be in the backseat, supporting the messages rather than taking centre stage. By all means, use your influence to spread the word as far as you can. However, be sure that your business doesn’t become the star of the show. You want people to talk about the movement, not your company. When the roles get reversed – and your company is getting all the attention – that’s when it looks like a PR stunt.
By all means, PR stunts have their place in a marketing strategy. However, supporting good causes is a brilliant way for businesses to use their power and give back to society. It’s important that the two don’t mix, as you can end up losing the importance of your message!