Tips For Tackling Social Issues Using a Brand Purpose

According to a recent study, 69% of U.S. adults use at least one social media site. That’s a hefty portion of the population, making social media a powerful tool for marketing, sales, and advertising. It also makes it a powerful tool to advocate for social causes or bring attention to social issues. This can be tricky territory for a company profile, as brands often don’t want to offend or scare off consumers that may have different viewpoints. And this is a real risk. We’ve seen it often enough with calls to boycott Starbucks or boycott Nike that smaller companies may not be willing to exact that risk. However, with risk there is reward and today we’re going to dive into how exactly to approach integrating social issues into your social media marketing efforts.

Consumer Value Marketing
One point that we’ll keep coming back to today is the idea that the strongest connection you can make with an audience is over a shared value. When thinking about this in terms of your consumer, using social issues can be a way to build brand equity. By listening to your consumer, you can find out what causes they care about. This can be done through social listening, i.e., asking questions on your social media channels, hosting Q&As, creating focus groups, etc.

Once you know what your consumers are concerned about, ask yourself how you can emotionally connect with them. How can you align your brand with values that matter to your customer base? Once you’ve determined where to focus your attention, your consumers will follow along since they’re the ones that guided you on how to get there. By reaching your consumers where they already are, you’re making it one step easier for them to engage with your message and build a foundation of trust.

Company Value Marketing
The second method to issue-related marketing is one that is bolder and more aggressive. As previously mentioned, the strongest connection a company (or anyone) can make with their audience is over a shared value. Instead of asking your consumers for their input on what they value, companies can also decide for themselves what their values are and trust fans to meet them there.

The first step in this process is often to ask, “what do we, as a company, believe” and then go from there. This often looks like revisiting a mission statement or a company value list to see where internal beliefs reflect external issues. If your company is dedicated to accepting and embracing diversity in the workplace, then your company should speak out on issues related to diversity. But rather than arbitrarily speaking out, create campaigns and awareness around what types of changes you would like to see. Research bills or laws that are in development. Partner with organizations that also care about the same issues. By giving your audience action items they can take, it not only creates a bond over a shared value but also cultivates the chance for change.

Mitigating the Risk
In either of these approaches, brands run the risk of alienating consumers. It’s the name of the game and will often make higher-ups nervous. However, there are a couple ways that you can prep internally before speaking out to make sure that the roll out of these campaigns are successful and smooth.

  • No Response is a response.
    • Look, we all know what a troll looks like on social media. If community managers spent their days responding to every single person just looking to stir the pot, we’d never get any other work done. If you know that your platform is solid and the call to action is legitimate, there’s not always a need to respond. Letting your values speak for themselves allows you to continue to take the high road as opposed to responding to every unhappy Tweet.
  • Let your fans defend for you. 
    • In most cases, it’s not even necessary for you to defend yourself. If you are creating awareness around an issue that incites controversy, allow your audience that does stand with your core value to do the work for you. They’ll often times show up in better ways than you can.
  • If this, then this.
    • Plan ahead with your team. Create IFTTT statements from all those that might be needed (CEO, CFO, VP, etc.) ahead of time so that if a media outlet requests a comment you already have it ready to go. Set up internal communication plans for every possible situation. If there’s an overall positive reaction, go with Plan A. If there’s an overall negative reaction, go with Plan B. By thinking through all the possible outcomes before you launch, your team can rest easy knowing they’re ready to handle anything.


At the end of the day, getting involved with social issues on social media will not please everyone. However, a recent study shows that millennials are more receptive to cause marketing than previous generations and are more likely to buy items associated with a cause. They also expect companies to support the social issues and causes they care about and will reward them for doing so. And with millennials now eclipsing the size of the baby boomer generation and becoming the largest in America, they are not a demographic to ignore.

If you’re interested in assistance with social media strategy or management, contact Lauryn Gray to learn more about our services and schedule a consultation.

How to Make the Most of Client Onboarding

When you’re living the agency life, clients are a pretty big part of the deal. As in, the biggest part. Our blog is full of useful content detailing how to get the most coverage for your clients, how to leverage that coverage on and off of social media, and dozens of other topics related to client success. But today, we’re going to back it all the way up to the beginning and talk about client onboarding.

“Onboarding” a client is a term used when your business development team (in our case, the fabulous Lauryn Gray) has sealed the deal, signed the paperwork, and is handing a client relationship over to the dedicated account team. This is the chance for the PR pros that will be working with the client each day to kick off the relationship and get the ball rolling.

In order to build a successful partnership, it’s important to gather as much information as possible in the first few weeks to help the PR team set a strong strategy. Here are a few things to keep in mind when going through the onboarding process with your next client!

Start with the obvious.
It may seem like a no brainer, but the first step should be to sit down with the business development group and go over what they already know about your new client. A lot of times, the sales process can take several weeks or even months, so the representative from your company has probably gotten to know the client team pretty well. Not only will you gain the tactical insight, like what all is covered in the proposed scope of work, but you can find out some information that might be helpful in establishing the relationship. Things like if they mentioned a competitor or an ideal publication, for example, can be great for developing a tactical strategy. Other insight, such as an alma mater or favorite sports team, might help develop a personal connection.

Do the research.
If you feel like this tip appears in a lot of our blog posts, that’s because it does. We love research. When it comes to onboarding, we like to know as much as we can about a company before we ever walk into the meeting. Start, of course, with the company’s history, its products, its C-suite, and all the basic information found on their website. But diving even deeper into figuring out who their competitors are, what industry trade media publications they have been featured in, where those competitors have been featured, the latest industry announcements, any awards they have won (or been nominated for), and what type of engagement they receive on social media presence will result in a much more efficient introductory meeting.

Ask all the questions.
Once you’ve done all that research and you’ve become familiar with the scope of work, it’s time to prep for your onboarding meeting. In order to really make the most out of the time you have, it’s important to utilize what you already know. Rather than asking them to list off their competitors, have the list you’ve created ready and ask if you’re missing anyone. Rather than asking them to list off every publication they have been featured in before, ask for the top 3 they haven’t been in yet. Have a list of their products or services at the ready and ask which ones should take highest priority, as opposed to having them walk through information that’s readily available on their website. Not only does this show that you’ve done your homework, it makes it easier to hit the ground running once this meeting concludes. The faster you can start executing on project initiatives, the faster you can provide those stellar results your client wants.

Onboarding a client can be a little overwhelming at times. It’s hard to know every single component of a company after a single two-hour meeting. But being prepared can help you maximize the impact of that two-hour meeting and set a solid foundation for a successful client-agency relationship.

Using Data in Your Daily PR Initiatives

Marketing and PR were once considered the hardest departments for a business to quantify because there was a lack of definitive return on investment (ROI). With the rise of digital marketing, this has become a slightly mitigated problem with pay-to-click data, Google Analytics, and other various tools used to track engagements digitally.

This is a far cry from trying to determine the sales impact of a billboard on the side of a highway, but it can still be challenging to prove that money invested in PR efforts has been felt by the company in one way or another.

Fortunately, at Dittoe PR, we’re left brained and right brained. We’re creative and resourceful, and we’re also analytical. We strive to show our clients both the tangible and intangible value of media coverage and we use hard data to fuel those efforts. Today, we’ll explore a couple ways that data and PR can go hand-in-hand.

Leveraging UMVs and ad dollars.
When working with clients, we want to ensure they can see the value in a piece of secured media coverage, whether it’s a splashy feature story in a national publication or a brief mention in a trade outlet. One of the ways we do this is by tracking the readership an outlet gets each month. For more on essential reporting tools, check out this blog post!

Once we know how many impressions a piece of coverage gets (i.e. the circulation of a print publication or the number of unique website visitors a website gets in a given month), we can quantify how much it would cost to purchase ad space to reach the same number of viewers or readers. We can also leverage ad rates available in publications’ media kits, when available.

Often times, these figures are far higher than what it costs a company each month to outsource PR efforts. We highlight these numbers for our clients in real time, as well as totaling our efforts at the end of each month, so they can see where their money is going and what the ROI is.

Using data to get coverage.
As much as we love providing data to clients after a piece of coverage is secured, we also love leveraging data to catch a reporter’s attention, especially if the data comes directly from the client.

Using statistics or demographics that are relevant to a clients’ industry always makes a pitch or story angle stronger. While the type of statistic and what is considered interesting will vary across the different trades, providing data to back up a claim such as “we’re the best in the business” will make it an easier sell to reporters and outlets.

For example, if you send out an annual survey to poll your customers on certain industry-related habits, we can leverage that data in our media outreach to earn additional credibility for your company.

Targeting the right audience.
When it comes to media relations, each client has a different reason for hiring a PR team. Some want to increase their brand awareness to an audience that was previously unaware or unengaged with their company. Others might want to strength relationships and move deeper into a certain demographic that’s already proven to resonate with the brand. Knowing these goals and understanding how to reach key demographics can help us determine the right outlets and reporters with whom to connect.

If a company is already trending well with women ages 25-45 and would like to continue that relationship, we research reporters and outlets that target that group. If they’re trending well with that same group of women but would like to increase sales or awareness with men ages 60-75, that often times directs our attention to different publications and different story angles.

Knowing a client’s customer base and their goals associated with growth is a key piece of data that Dittoe PR will revisit again and again to ensure that media relations is serving the need at hand.

Including links back to the website.
Whenever a client mention is secured on a digital platform, we’re always crossing our fingers (and toes) that the client’s website link is included in the story. While this doesn’t always happen, when it does, we’re able to use Google Analytics to determine if recent traffic to their website is driven from that mention. Not only does this show that our efforts are increasing brand awareness and engagement, but it helps us to know what kind of stories, outlets, and demographics are the most engaging to readers.

I’ve often found that while the trade publications might have a smaller number of impressions, they often times have the largest click-through rates. Getting a story in front of the right group of people can sometimes be more valuable than getting a story in front of the largest group of people.

At the end of the day, increasing brand awareness can seem very open-ended and in a lot of ways it is. However, there are plenty of tools, resources, and dedicated PR teams out there to help you achieve those results and back up the claims with data.

Interested in learning more about how we provide tangible value to our clients? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to schedule a consultation today!