Should I or my company take a position on social issues?
So here’s an unpopular opinion: Taking a stance on social issues and various controversies can actually help your business and I highly recommend that you do. Whether you, another executive or a group act as the primary voice for your company on the topic, what’s important is that you do have a voice.
A brand voicing its opinion on various issues or expressing its position on a political or social topic has traditionally been taboo or seen as too much of a risk, as it could alienate certain audiences or open the company to more criticisms. However, that belief is quickly becoming outdated as consumers expect the brands they support to align with them on important issues.
In a survey earlier this year, market research firm Clutch found that 75% of people were more inclined to buy from a company that “supports an issue they agree with.” Simply having low prices isn’t enough anymore. That same Clutch survey found that just 44% of people saw prices as one of the most important factors when selecting a company to buy from when compared with environmentally friendly practices, social responsibility and giving back to the community – all of which scored higher than price in importance to consumers.
Additionally, a 2017 study by Cone Communications showed that 78% of people actually want companies to take a stance on social issues.
Taking a position on various topics, particularly those of controversy that tend to be highly personal, can strengthen the degree to which people identify with your brand. Building these strong bonds with your consumers fosters commitment and keeps them coming back.
Here’s another benefit: Taking a stance on social issues is good for your employees – current and prospective. Studies have shown that employees are more productive at work when they agree with their employers values. Also, individuals are more likely to want to work for a CEO that takes a political or social stance, even when that position doesn’t align with their own beliefs.
More committed customers, higher productivity driven by morale and the chance to attract more talent. Do the risks still outweigh the rewards?
Are you ready to take your position on some of the top issues of today?
Before you move forward with writing that blog, hitting the “tweet” button or sending out an email, take some time to PLAN your rollout and ongoing outreach.
Here are some things you must consider before moving forward:
Look at your existing client base and targets: What issues matter to them? Where do they normally stand on them? How much do you know about these issues?
You’ll need to do some landscape research on the issue. Take the time to learn about the history and current climate. Find out the various positions taken and arguments used in the conversation. This will help you choose your stance and back it up as effectively as possible.
Choose your spokesperson (or spokespeople) on the issue(s): Who will be the face of this? Is this a team effort? Who would make more sense to put at the forefront?
This is where you make the decision on who is going to byline that op-ed or blog post. This is where you select who to deploy to push your positions on the issues. If you’re taking on more than one issue, you may have a different person as the primary source on each topic.
What is the best way to communicate your stance? How do you get the information out there? Do you need to take concrete actions to back up that stance (spoiler: yes, you do)?
It could be a major donation, tweet, op-ed, video, appearance at a protest, something else or a combination of these approaches. Depending on the issue, its background, your spokesperson (or people) and your audience, one form of communication on the topic may be better than the other. On top of the communication, you’ll also need to take consistent action to show that you and your brand are genuine about your stance and not using it solely as a selling point.
Whatever issue you chose and who and how you want to communicate it, you’ll need research and a plan. E. Brown Consulting can help you make that happen from the initial brainstorm to execution.