Aug 4, 2022 - Economy

Take these 4 steps before conveying a corporate stance

Source: Axios research; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Already this summer, corporate America has addressed gender identity legislation, abortion access, gun control and climate change — all outside of the traditional scope of business.

Why it matters: More Americans now turn to business leaders and employers for trusted information on current events, and executives expect their corporate communicators to get it right.

  • After all, 72% say they will "remember the companies that took missteps" in response to recent crises, according to ROKK Solutions data.

Between the lines: There are very real consequences to botching a response — and sometimes, no response at all is even worse. Consider these four questions before jumping in...

1. Does it affect employees? This was a guiding principle for Microsoft in their response to the DACA program and the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which they said impacted their employees’ rights and abilities.

2. Does it align with corporate values? Bumble is vocally anti-gun and banned images of guns from the dating app because weapons don't align with its values.

  • CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told TIME: “We want women — and men — to feel comfortable, to feel safe and feel secure. Weapons don’t send that message.”

3. Does it impact business operations? Product recalls or natural disasters that disrupt supply chains will always warrant a response — and the sooner, the better.

  • A delayed response can lead to legal repercussions and will impact brand reputation.
  • This happened recently when Daily Harvest was slow to respond after their PR packages of French Lentil + Leek Crumbles sent many influencers to the hospital.

4. Is the timing right? Matters that are gut-wrenching or timely deserve immediate, focused attention. When this happens, put all other communications on pause.

  • Following the murder of George Floyd, many took steps to halt their regular communications to instead vocalize support for racial justice, and even a slight delay in response was noticed.

There are external nuances to manage. One example is the ever-so-common CEO pledge. If a company has previously signed a public call to action, that must be considered and acted on.

The bottom line: Communicators must be brought in early and should serve as key players in building the strategy and response. After all, they are the first line of defense and the ones who have to clean up any potential mess.

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