Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
As concerns over social, environmental and political issues rise, many companies are being founded with a particular cause in mind, with their founders looking to use their businesses and platforms to raise awareness and do some good. For other businesses, getting involved in particular causes or building product lines around certain issues came later as their brands evolved.
But the challenge for all of these businesses lies in earning consumer trust. Now attuned to insincerity and false concern, customers can tell when a company isn’t being honest in their claims. To help prove to your customers that your efforts to help your cause are legitimate, consider these tips from the members of Rolling Stone Culture Council and learn what steps you can take to build your credibility and reputation as an honest, trustworthy business.
Lead With Transparency
Humanitarianism is a core value at Roc Nation. Social justice issues are at the heart of our business strategies. When you lead with transparency and can show the work and its results, the company’s values are defined. Your staff, clients and the public will trust and believe in your causes, become more involved in the issues and value what you do. Empowering individuals to make change is the ultimate goal. – Desiree Perez, Roc Nation
Provide Accurate Information
When it comes to cause marketing, people can know you’re truly being honest when you have as much accurate information as possible. Multiple resources and actually having proof of the social or economic impact is helpful. Fundamentally, we should strive to create long-term, purpose-driven programs that allow all brands to do well while being successful. – Chris Martin, Hempful Farms
Help Out Publicly
Find out about causes that align and don’t box in your brand. Monitor your efforts and publicly lend a hand to the cause. Dispatch some of your employees to live events the cause may have. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com
Show Your ‘Why’
You must have a guiding philosophy bigger than whatever you’re trying to sell. You must show your “why.” I consistently work on policy; write op-eds and blogs; host engagements, mentorship and coaching like weekly Clubhouse rooms, modeling Oaksterdam’s mission for the descheduling of cannabis to decriminalize people. Leading the way with integrity brings people, and ultimately profits, to follow. – Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam University
Ensure Total Alignment
Design an alliance of radical transparency with the not-for-profit you want to support. It’s critical that goals and messaging are completely aligned between the organizations, creating a solid foundation for all participants to authentically amplify the mission and purpose. – Michael Klein, Miraculo Inc.
Tell the Truth
Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” As simple as this sounds, everything is amplified in the politically and socially charged cannabis industry. From our early 2010 beginning we understood that we are part of building trust through our brand so the countless people and industries involved can all have unbiased and truthful conversations together. – Skip Meador, marQaha
One of the most important steps a business can take is to be front and center for its customers by being accessible. Customers need to be able to see and hear you. We do that by making sure we are getting on major networks, weighing in on our industry’s biggest concerns. Education and knowledge can go a long way today in helping customers avoid misinformation. – Andrew Rossow, The Guardian Project
Share Your Authentic Story
Transparency and authenticity are key. It should be clear why you chose a particular organization or cause to support. Share a story around why the cause is important to your company and how you believe your company, through a campaign, can help raise awareness. – Danielle Sabrina, Tribe Builder Media
Back Up Your Opinions With Evidence
Since we’re data driven, we often back up our own professional opinions with hard data for SEO customers. We use software from Google, Moz, Semrush and more to help inform us of the best paths to take. We’re always happy to share our process and how it informs our approach with customers. For PR, the evidence is less about hard data and more about media opportunities we’ve lined up. – Evan Nison, NisonCo