How Brands Can Become Advocates for Social Change

By: Megan Davis, Senior Account Supervisor, 1903 Public Relations

2020 has been a tumultuous year that has put a spotlight on social inequality, but even before the pandemic or the demonstrations, systemic problems plagued the nation. As a result, expectations have changed, and more than ever, a commitment to corporate responsibility is being looked for by consumers. Brands are taking a stand for social change and consumers are putting their buying power behind those that do.

A survey found that 70 percent of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues. For brands that truly want to make a difference to be more inclusive, now is the time to show customers what is being done to be a part of the change.

Companies like Ben & Jerry’s have a long history of being outspoken and taking a position on issues ranging from climate change, to racial justice. A couple of years ago, this would have been inconceivable to most brands. But as times change, staying silent is no longer an option. Consumers view lack of a position as almost worse than an opposing position. Consumers want to know what a brand stands behind.

To do this, brands need to be bold and unafraid. Create actionable communication plans around issues that the organization and its employees are most passionate about and take action. Media campaigns that showcase this work and commitment demonstrate how a company is putting their money where their mouth is and driving change. In addition, social media conversations on these topics and speaking at conferences also helps generate awareness of corporate responsibility campaigns and can encourage other companies to follow suit.

By supporting, donating and raising awareness for justice related causes, brands are helping to create a country that acknowledges the missteps of the past and looks forward with a plan of action. Brands can use their voice and reach to normalize equality and usher in a better decade than the last.

At 1903 PR, we work with many clients who are passionate about social change. We’ve developed creative campaigns and speaking submissions calling for change in highly talked about areas such as sustainability and racial inequality. By being bold and taking a stand, our clients are making a real difference in their communities and industries— and they’re getting more business because of it. A survey found that 50 percent of Americans said they do online research to see how a brand reacted to social issues before making a purchasing decision.

If brands recognize and advocate for a better and more equal world, consumers will follow with their dollars. The reward is loyalty, sales and possibility even a more just country.

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