Looking towards next year, it is worth remembering that brands are now increasingly expected to display more benefits in the public domain than those specifically exhibited by the excellence of their products and services. We believe that this is a trend that will continue to grow in 2024, driven in a large part by social media, and offering businesses opportunities to express their positive visions for the present and the future.
The perception of brands and the loyalty they generate in their target audiences and demographics will therefore further involve demonstrating their strong commitment on a range of subjects not directly connected to their day-to-day activities and operations.
This is basically nothing new. The historical commitment of PR agencies has always been to broaden the positive view that the public had of their clients through demonstrating what they had done in areas such as charity support and benefits to employment in their community. But the digital environment offers a much broader strategic canvas on which to paint the bigger picture.
Going Beyond the Profit Motive
A recent post by Statista covered their survey on the attitudes of businesses to getting involved with social issues. Its introduction states:
“During a survey held in early 2023, more than 80 percent of responding marketing leaders in the United Kingdom (UK) stated that demonstrating their company cared about more than making profits influenced their willingness to take a stance on politically charged issues.
“Almost 70 percent of the respondents said the positive effects of their company’s ability to stand out in the marketplace influenced their willingness to take a stance.”
However, politically charged issues need not be topics such as Brexit that generate seemingly insurmountable divisions between opposing opinions, and in general businesses would be wise to steer clear of these. But there are other issues offering rich opportunities for strategic positive messaging, primarily those where there is broad consensus on aims but with differences of opinion on how to achieve them.
Topics for Consideration
These are examples of subjects that could be appropriate for directing content, commentary and spokesmanship to selected social media and other relevant channels of communication.
- Carbon reduction: With the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 entering its final stages in Dubai, there will be a need to examine and unpick how much has been achieved. The requirement to support the delivery of Net Zero targets for carbon emissions by 2050 is a current obligation on business which is only likely to increase. Most people wish the current deterioration in global environmental conditions to be curtailed. So, by communicating where advances are being made, such as via new technology, brands can gain positive perceptions by envisaging optimistic prospects for the future.
- Job upskilling: There is an almost universal recognition about the need to build on the UK’s progress into offering a highly-skilled workforce and a highly-technical work environment, benefitting both the economy and the prosperity and motivation of working people. This would be highly appropriate for companies running apprenticeship schemes to comment on skilled jobs for young people.
- Regional upgrading: There is general agreement that the levelling-up process between London and the South East and other regions such as the North of England is desirable for national prosperity. The need for improved infrastructure, facilities and investment in these specified regions, such as the vision of the Northern Powerhouse, offer ample opportunities for comments and ideas from businesses, particularly those located in these areas.
The creation of generic style content can be complementary to, and indeed sometimes fused into, focused strategic messaging to target audiences on specific company developments and innovations in technology and other areas.
It is also worth noting that any such marketing exercise can simultaneously be delivered to motivate employees and other stakeholders, through both external and internal communication channels. Therefore, there are many benefits to taking a bigger picture approach!