Should brands engage on social issues like #StopAsianHate or BLM? This was the question I overheard on the new social media app Clubhouse today. The advice I heard was good, from various PR people, encouraging participation, but be careful. One simple question can destroy your brand if you’re not prepared.
What Are You Doing About It?
If you’re not careful your brand can be tarnished when jumping into social issues. Here’s the one question that can tear you apart: “And what are you doing about it?”
Asking what actions your brand has taken is the question that separates the cheap virtue signaling opportunists, of which there are a surplus, from the brands that actually do care. If you aren’t prepared to participate, donate or commit to action, don’t engage on social issues.
A great recent example is Coco-Cola. They decided to participate in the race discussion, and today they are now being pressured to make a statement on Georgia’s voting law. I don’t know if they’ve made the right or wrong move on this, but there’s no question they’re already being criticized for their inaction. They’re now under the microscope of their own choosing.
How to Engage With Social Issues
The right way to engage on social issues is by leading with action, and only then, calling on your customers or donors to join. You should truly lead the effort, not just make comments on it. Any idiot can post a message, but it takes courage to take the first step. If you’re not willing to take that first step, stay away from the issue.
If your intentions are pure and you still get attacked, here’s the good news. Brands whose words match their actions are naturally in a better position to hold their ground against any potential opposition—Staying true to your mission is brand ammo that few can oppose.