Arts & Culture

Social Impact PR: How Brands Can Create Change

Yann Hatchuel

April 12th, 2022

social impact pr

Let’s talk about social impact PR.

It’s no secret that the events culminating over the past year highlighted the urgency of social impact PR and communications. From racial reckoning to COVID-19, brands everywhere tried to join the conversation, while consumers became more skeptical than ever of their timely motivations. Data suggest that a growing number of people make purchasing decisions based on the causes they care about. For example, a survey by Clutch showed that 75% of consumers are likely to start shopping at a company that supports an issue they agree with and that 71% think it’s important for businesses to take a stance on social movements.

Most importantly, the average consumer expects authenticity.

Andy Warhol said that when it comes to fame: “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” This may still hold true if you’re looking to become a notorious public figure, but when it comes to establishing consumer trust in a brand, it’s an entirely different ball game. At BerlinRosen, we do not believe in PR for the sake of PR. Instead, we focus on translating our clients’ values into results-driven communications programs. Whether it’s partnering with brands to engage local communities, helping media companies harness entertainment for social impact or supporting Fortune 500 companies’ CSR strategies, we help amplify the positive work our clients are putting out, while driving real brand-building results.

When it comes to creating (and sustaining) a social impact PR strategy for your brand, here are some things to keep in mind.

Don’t perform. Act

Creating an effective social-impact PR strategy isn’t about sharing performative posts. When it comes to social impact, good intentions aren’t enough. It’s about powerful messaging backed by real action. For example, adding the colors of the pride flag to your logo throughout June isn’t enough. It is crucial to have a year-round strategy to support the LGBTQ+ community (including your own employees).

Especially over the past year, we’ve seen brands rush to respond to current events. However, social media sleuths will be quick to point out if your message isn’t authentic. Being timely is good, but knowing when, what and, most importantly, if you should say something is paramount.

When COVID-19 hit, our clients SL Green Realty and Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud joined forces to launch the nonprofit Food1st. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they’ve created nearly 700,000 meals (and counting) for frontline workers, elderly, medical personnel and food-insecure families, and to employ recently laid-off restaurant workers in NYC.

Collaboration is a superpower

In the same way that successful influencer marketing campaigns can push product sales, they can help amplify the reach of your social impact strategy. Brands can partner with organizations or advocacy leaders to activate audiences and bring more authenticity to your mission.

During last summer’s protests, the BerlinRosen team engaged powerful leaders in the racial justice movement, including working with Prince Harry and Color Of Change to facilitate and promote a conversation on racism and online hate. We also partnered with Alicia Garza, founder of Black Futures Lab and Black Lives Matter co-founder, to facilitate Instagram takeovers with artists like Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez. By working at the intersection of arts and social impact, our entertainment PR team works to ensure that historically marginalized voices are centered in mainstream media.—from corporate communications campaigns to storytelling on the big screen.

Look around and within

Know where your brand stands today. It is as important to assess your limitations as it is to assess your strengths.

Conduct research on your competitors and industry as a whole to understand where you fit. Start by taking inventory of your resources, from internal stakeholders to a budget that can be allocated to your social impact program. There are many facets of a company that can be applied to support communities, potentially including the products and services you provide.

By doing this, it will be easier to identify how you can be most effective.

Once you know where your company stands, it’s time to define your goals and answer questions such as:

●      Which causes can you authentically support?

●      How can you actively empower the communities you wish to uplift?

●      Who are the best voices within your organization to speak on these issues?

●      Are there nonprofits and local organizations that you could partner with?

●      How can your brand contribute to solving issues?

Newsjacking can be a good tactic, if…

PR and marketing pros know that an effective way to keep brands in the media is through newsjacking. This can help brands leverage publicity year-round, especially in an oversaturated media market. The key here is to make sure that you’re not just trying to join any narrative, but participating in the ones on which you’re a bona fide expert.

For more information, make sure to check out our Newsjacking Strategy Guide with dos, don’ts and a checklist to cross off before trying to join the news of the day.

Track, measure, assess, repeat.

Just like your marketing KPIs, your social impact strategy needs to be measured, too. Once you’ve established your goals and metrics, track your progress and successes. These can (and should) be aligned with the goals that your company already has.

Quantitative data is important (e.g. number of meals delivered), but so are qualitative indicators that will help you shape the progress of your strategy. Once this is established, you’ll be able to reassess your strategy and make adjustments to maximize impact.

Yes, we can help.

Building an effective social impact strategy is key to engaging consumers, retaining talent and, ultimately, growing your brand today. And that’s our expertise.

Ranked by Forbes with 5/5 stars, BerlinRosen is a top PR and marketing agency. We started with a simple idea—build a communications firm that operates with the speed and intensity of a political campaign. We understand how crucial it is for brands to have a thoughtful, proactive partner to identify the right audiences and help expand their reach, drive impact and connect people to the opportunities to effect long-term change.

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a startup, we will become a fully integrated part of your team and embrace your challenges as our own. For more information about how we can support your communications needs, send us a message.

This article was originally shared on PRWeek.