Many organizations are attracting new customers, new supporters and new employees through their mission-driven work. Harvard Business Review recently reported that over 80% of millennials feel that making a positive difference is more important than professional recognition, and consumers overwhelmingly prefer things associated with some sort of social cause. Making an impact for a worthwhile cause is becoming more of a necessity for any strong public relations strategy.
People want to know their money is being spent wisely to help others. Employees within a company want to know that their executive team is doing more than just benefiting from a high profit. So before your organization jumps into a community service project or partnership, make sure your company is staying true to its own values.
Here are some ways to make a difference:
Leverage Core Strengths
Oftentimes, many businesses take their strengths and find another organization that needs their help. For example, PR firms have donated their time for social media trainings for small non-profits; and larger companies like UPS have used their logistics expertise to fly and ship food to numerous countries by partnering with the World Food Programme. Because the services they are donating are already a part of their expertise, it’s a natural fit to extend this sort of help. The organizations come across as more authentic when they stick to what they know, rather than trying pander to audiences by hopping on some sort of bandwagon trend or cause.
Respond to Current Events
Another way companies are helping beyond the bottom line is by finding ways to respond to current events. Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, many corporations backed away from selling guns to people under the age of 21; when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston the owner of mattress stores opened up the doors of his stores so people had a place to sleep. Organizations are taking more risks by taking stances – they’re not afraid to make their values known, even if it might isolate a subset of their audience.
When looking to make an impact, PR pros should also be sure to define goals from the beginning. Beyond your bottom line, track results such as money donated, trees planted or people helped.
Communicators need to know how to speak about their community service-based work without pandering. Most people want to help others so be sincere in your messaging, strategy and implementation of any project. Showing authenticity not only helps bring attention to your own organization’s work, more importantly, it raises awareness of worthy causes.