There was a time when the best practice for organizations was NOT to take a stand….on anything. But there’s been a complete 180 from that practice. Today, everyone has a heightened interest in social responsibility. Staying silent on significant social matters can be perceived negatively. As a result, many more organizations are becoming vocal about how they feel from policy issues to social justice matters (Hello, Nike and Tom’s).
But when a brand takes a position, they may run the risk of isolating a segment of their audience base. What if they have customers who disagree with their position? Is it worth upsetting loyal customers? All important questions.
The Dos and Don’ts of Taking a Stand
Do develop clear messaging and plan for how you will interact with your audience if they become vocal
There’s nothing worse than an organization making an assertion and not being prepared with responses to anticipated questions. If your audience feels compelled enough to respond to your position with commentary, some follow-up about how the company got it is necessary.
Do keep in mind your customer base has multiple opinions
If everyone had the same view, it would certainly make things easier, but that is not realistic. Bearing that in mind, it’s essential that the messages communicated about an organization’s position stay consistent. Brands should not attempt to shift their message depending on who they’re talking to. That can come off as disingenuous which can be detrimental to brand reputation.
Do find avenues to provide thought leadership by communicating your stance in the appropriate channel
If a brand decides to take a stance on something, they need to own it! If your brand is passionate about environmental sustainability, find opportunities to weigh in on this topic via blogs, by-line articles, podcasts and social media. The goal of taking a position is to share how you feel about this topic with your audience. Strengthen your position by using various outlets to get the message out.
Don’t take a stand about something just because everyone else is
The first recommendation said that there’s nothing worse than not being prepared with messaging to address commentary. Well, that’s not true because there is something much worse. Nothing screams phony more than an organization rushing to take a stand on something just because everyone else is and they don’t want to be left out. A first-hand example that comes to mind is an organization that waited until the last day of LGBT Pride Month to post a blog about inclusively. It left a bad taste in many people’s mouths because it seemed like an afterthought and something done only after they saw all the other cool kids were doing it. Not cool.
Do Agree to Disagree
During a time where it seems like there’s a lot of “you’re either with me or against me,” organizations (and people) need to remember that taking a stand means other people may disagree and that’s okay.