Whole Brand Thinking™ on Public Relations.

barkley sowb expert pr header

What trends, themes, surprises, or disruptions have you seen in Public Relations in the last 12 months? 

The expectation of brands to react swiftly to cultural, social, internal, and governmental issues continues to increase in our omni-channel, always-on world of social and earned media. Brands must be ready to communicate quickly, transparently, and authentically about issues impacting their reputation and relationship with stakeholders. This includes communicating with employees, consumers, investors, media, government, partners, vendors, or other audiences interested in the brand.  

If brands act too slow, don’t respond at all, or send a message that is inauthentic to its purpose, the repercussions are damaging to their reputation and bottom line. Brands need to know what they stand for, how their purpose relates to the issue, and how to communicate with their stakeholders effectively. 

A brand’s public relations efforts should always align with its purpose, audience, and business goals. Your communications should work to grow your brand awareness, protect your reputation, and propel you forward, in good times and bad, inside your organization and out. 

What does it mean for aspiring whole brands?

Many brands aren’t aligned on where they stand on social or cultural issues because they haven’t invested the time to do so. Is the brand operating only to make a profit? Or does it exist to add good to the world through products, actions, influencers, and marketing? Does the brand have an ESG or sustainability plan? Or have leaders failed to invest in how they care for people, the planet, and their community? Are they inclusive and diverse in their hiring practices, creative campaigns, and partnerships? Or are they disregarding who represents the brand at every level?

Understanding that every stop along the Whole Brand Spectrum impacts your brand — and how you communicate internally and externally — is paramount to creating authentic, transparent, and purposeful interactions with your stakeholders. If you are clear about your brand, you can quickly and effectively communicate your values to the world.  

What advice do you have for whole brand thinkers as a result?

  • Take the time and resources to invest in understanding why the brand exists and what impact you want to have on the world. 

  • Invite brand leaders at every level, from the C-suite to marketing, PR, HR, product, and operations, for open discussion around issues that could impact the brand

  • Create a clear stance on how your values will dictate their response. 

  • Be ready to defend or advocate for your internal practices and external campaigns, particularly if you work with celebrities and influencers or create boundary-pushing campaigns. 

Want more Whole Brand Thinking™ delivered right to your inbox each month? Sign up for the Whole Brand Briefing email newsletter here.


Up next: