Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) AS THE NEW PROBIOTIC
Today, more than ever, companies are active in social issues. As audiences and consumers have evolved their relationships with brands, the focus on sustainability has only grown as a factor in affinity. Therefore, it’s not surprising that corporate social responsibility has risen with heightened social consciousness. CSR efforts continue to gain serious funding from companies in the areas of philanthropy, volunteerism, the environment, and labor issues. Crafting a CSR effort is an increasingly popular opportunity for organizations and companies to engender positive brand recognition that aligns with the social interests of their customers and other stakeholders. It’s also vitally important for companies to develop the right voice when sharing the CSR agenda and efforts. With a highly scrutinized media environment, a misstep – even with good intentions – could negatively affect businesses. Antibiotics are to Crisis Comms as Probiotics are to CSR Campaigns. Just like probiotics build up your immune system, CSR builds up companies’ reputations and a reservoir of goodwill so that if and when a crisis comes, they recover more quickly and with less distress. Think of a company’s reputation like your body and take steps to keep it healthy. Key Takeaway: CSR efforts are more meaningful than ever to customers, policymakers, and stakeholders. Build a strong, authentic CSR program that shares the work a brand or organization is doing to contribute towards the good of people.
EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS BEYOND THE C-SUITE
Today, more and more corporate and organization executives are finding themselves in the news, both good and bad. Either way, executives are no longer anonymous figureheads. Executive identities are impacting brands more than ever. These are times that warrant conscious leadership. These are times that also warrant careful and strategic communications. When a company has a crisis, audiences and the media look to its leaders for insight. When companies and organizations make impactful decisions, people look to leaders to gain understanding. For a long time, organizations only considered communications as a tool from unknown company sources. It’s imperative for organizations to develop executive communication strategies to help articulate a vision or to properly manage a crisis. Customers and stakeholders are gravitating toward activist and engaged executives, who care more about the people they serve than the bottom line. The main tenant of an executive communications strategy must center around thought leadership initiatives that raise a leader’s profile in a highly valuable way, while aligning closely with the brand or organization they represent. This cross-section of interests creates a backdoor to organization interest and affinity. Key Takeaway: Executive communications should no longer be treated as one-off necessitated communications. In today’s age, it’s important for an executive to execute a holistic communications strategy that raises their profile in a smart and valuable way that is consistent with the brand or organization they represent.
BE PREPARED: CRISIS IS THE NEW NORMAL
The old way of handling crisis and conflict doesn’t work anymore — burying your head in the sand and waiting for the viral social media storm to pass is not crisis management. Perpetual news coverage and social media sleuthing is the modern plague feared by businesses and high profile organizations. In a world of misconduct, scrutiny, and sharing, it’s more and more important to adopt proactive crisis training. If you disagree, just ask Boeing, Facebook, or United Airlines. An effective crisis response begins with strong planning. It is also advantageous and less resource driven to put in place a proactive crisis communications plan in a non-crisis environment. When the going gets tough, organizations have an advantage when they develop a general crisis communications framework that can be customized to incidents ranging in scope and specificity. Regardless of the situation, there are the core messages you will want to get across. Key areas for crisis preparation include media training, message development, collateral development, third party engagement, war room organization planning & approval structure, crisis checklists, media lists, internal and external stakeholder lists, and standby web properties. Key Takeaway: Create positive outcomes amid crisis by establishing message and infrastructure discipline that anticipates potential problems. Determine the best approach to distribute a factual narrative to persuade and inspire.
EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING CULTIVATES CONNECTIONS
It’s been said that there is no substitute for experience. Experiential opportunities help organizations cultivate an emotional connection with target audiences by immersing them in a memorable experience. However, like any connection with a person, cause, company, or event, it can begin and end very quickly without intentional communication. Experiential marketing directly engages target audiences in a live event. Also referred to as “live marketing,” “participation marketing,” or sometimes “brand activation,” experiential marketing gets your customers involved in your brand or products and lets them experience it in real time. Key Takeaway: Let the customers, policymakers and stakeholders be part of the brand. Audience participation is a memorable experience that generates heightened interest and buy-in.
INSTAGRAM: GET ON THE GRAM
We all know an image is worth a thousand words. The proof of this idiom can be found on Instagram and its over one billion users worldwide. With an increasing preference by people to consume information via images and video, Instagram has become a social media powerhouse. The mobile-centric platform isn’t just used by fitness gurus and celebrities. Advertisers have found an emergent opportunity to easily target audiences inexpensively to sell goods, promote services, and communicate efficiently. As an increasing number of eyeballs converge on Instagram, organizations can leverage the power of images to create an emotional connection with audiences. Instagram simply doesn’t foster the same contentious environment that Twitter and Facebook often enable. Look for Instagram to be an even greater force for advertisers in organizations advocating agendas. Key Takeaway: Instagram is a valuable communications tool, but be sure to use it correctly. Utilize interesting and engaging imagery and videos to capture your audience’s attention. Find interesting angles, messages, and creative that will resonate with individuals – don’t simply repurpose creative from other platforms.