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By: Scott Pansky
I was talking with an associate the other day who suggested corporate America would ease up on supporting causes because the incoming Biden administration would be more supportive. I easily understood where this person was coming from, but I found myself responding rapidly: “No way! The trains have left the track!”
In a recent Axios+The Harris Poll about corporate reputation rankings, 72% said they trusted companies more than the federal government to help find solutions to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and racial equality movement. Another 81% thought large companies – with their resources, expensive infrastructure and advanced logistics – are even more vital now to America’s future than before the pandemic.
As many may recall, Blackrock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink has stated numerous times, “A company cannot achieve long-term profits without embracing purpose and considering the needs of a broad range of stakeholders.”
His quote remains relevant and influential, as many evaluate their purposes, consider changing the makeup and diversity of their boards and build out their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals for accountability to stakeholders.
This week, MDC Chairman and CEO Mark Penn sent Allison+Partners and other sister organizations a note, and one paragraph really caught my eye:
“Advertisers need to be mindful of some key themes as we come out of the campaign season and, hopefully soon, the pandemic: hope, sensitivity and value. People are searching for optimism and unity wherever they can find it amid both the pandemic and the country’s continued polarization,” Penn said. “Brands that can strike those tones while clearly articulating how they are additive to consumers’ life will win out.”
Having lived in the purpose space my entire career, I cannot image companies taking a step back – I only see this movement on purpose strengthening.
Today, our nonprofits suffer, small businesses suffer, equity and decency suffer, and climate issues won’t magically disappear. And Corporate America knows it. Their communities know it, and so do their consumers and employees. Their engagement to make an authentic, transparent, and responsible decisions and commitments will earn them brand loyalty, employee retention and, in the end, higher profits.
Now is the time to act. Now is the time for companies to step it up. And brands… we are watching!
Scott Pansky is a co-founder of the agency and leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. Scott has extensive experience providing communications and crisis counsel to education, corporate and nonprofit organizations.