Strong PR For Ethical Brands
You have an ethical brand – how do you build a strong PR strategy around this? Getting to grips with a PR strategy starts, among many things, with a really good understanding of the values of your business. There are lots of brands that claim to be ethical or sustainable so how do you make yourself stand out from the rest?
Let’s start by talking about what PR actually is and how it can work for your brand – in a nutshell, a successful PR strategy will deliver your brand messages and values directly to your target audience across different platforms.
Done properly, it can strengthen your reputation, set yourself apart from your competitors, build your customer base and in the long run potentially directly influence the number of sales you’re making.
So you have a strong brand that has ethical values at its heart – this is exactly what you want your brand to be known for and should be the golden thread running through your communications strategy. So how can you effectively do this?
You can’t bake a good cake without getting all your ingredients ready and the same goes for your PR and communications strategy. It starts with getting under the skin of your brand and your values. With these ethical values firmly in place and at the core of your brand, you’ve already given yourself a head start in this particular marathon.
Let’s work through what your key messages are.
If you’re claiming your brand is ethical or sustainable, you’ll need to make sure that it is! I know, I know, it sounds obvious, but every step of your supply chain needs to live up to your values or you could get caught out.
There are many buzz words floating around in the media where ethical brands are concerned and you’ll need to be familiar with these and really understand them – fair trade, organic, sustainable, ethical, artisan-made, BCorp. There’s a fair chance you’re already aware of these, but if you want to state on your packaging that you’re using organic cotton in your clothes, for example, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the appropriate certifications. Be careful not to casually wave these terms around on your website if you don’t know them to be entirely true or simply for the sake of categorising your product. Working out where your brand and products fit within these classifications will form a key part of delivering your messaging.
Once you’ve got the correct accreditations and certifications in place, you can start using these terms in your PR strategy. It’s worth being aware of the term ‘Greenwashing’? It means that a business may be using these terms in a gimmicky way to promote their brand when they may not be entirely true. It could undermine the value of your brand and your reputation if you find yourself caught up in this.
Media in the sustainability and ethical arena will be keen to understand the credentials of any ‘green’ claims that you’re making so make sure they are entirely true and you can back them up.
Let’s now consider what do you want PR to do for your brand
Are you looking to educate people on ethics? Are you aiming to encourage people to switch from fast fashion to sustainable fashion?
Bearing this in mind, your key messages will need to be short and sweet – these are the messages that tell your target audience what your brand is all about. Think of them as headline information about your brand or product if you like.
Speaking of target audience, an ethical or sustainable brand should have a really good idea of who it wants to be speaking to – a vegan clothing brand is likely to already have a clear idea of its customer. If you haven’t quite worked that out yet, have a think about who you want to be buying your product or service – what type of person is this? You don’t need to have this drilled down to their hair colour and favourite film but your brand values should be speaking to their own personal values so you need to make sure you’re reaching the right people who are going to be buying your product.
Where does this person ‘hang out’ and what media are they consuming – what magazines are they buying, podcasts are they listening to, events are they going to, social media platforms are they active on?
Going through this exercise will give you a good idea of who you’re speaking to, what you’re saying and how you’re getting this message across.
Let’s get back to my baking analogy – defining these points give you some of your ingredients but we need to consider the wider picture here too. Your brand’s visual identity needs to reflect your brand values – consider your colour pallets, imagery, packaging and your website – it’s your online shopfront – do these all support your strong brand values?
A strong brand identity that supports your values will encourage brand loyalty and trust and getting these elements right will add to your ingredient list, and, if you’ll allow me to throw another analogy in, will be very crucial tool for your PR tool kit.
With all this in place, you can get cracking with activity reaching out for PR opportunities with journalists, bloggers and pitching yourself for speaker slots if that’s where you’ll find your audience. Each of your touchpoints with your target audience (and potential customers) should have your key messages weaving through the content like the golden thread that I spoke about at the start. It’s unlikely (not impossible) that you’ll gain new customers or clients off the back of a single mention in an article on ethical clothing, for example. But you might gain plenty of new social media followers that share your passion for sustainability or ethical brands. The content that you publish across your platforms will be anchored around the messaging that you’ve created and that gets right to the heart of your brand.
Get to really know your subject, understand your industry inside and out. Don’t forget to PR yourself – the voice, face, talent behind your brand. If you’ve created a business based on ethical values, I’m going to assume you’ve got some strong opinions and beliefs so make them known if you feel comfortable with it.
Getting results from a strong PR strategy will take time – there are few quick wins in PR. By approaching your PR in this longer-term and sustainable way gives you a strong chance to build a trustworthy brand with loyal customers.
Hi, I’m Hayley from Creatively Hayley and I’ve been applying my PR wizardry for 14 years. Securing media coverage, training people to take control of media interviews and helping creatives master their own PR is my bread and butter. It gives me the same kicks now as it did at the start of my career.