For our latest episode of Take 5 Live, we sat down with Ben Jenkins, Head of Comms Practice at Locust Street Group to discuss the intersection of PR and politics..
We highlighted some key takeaways below, including if brands should join in the election discussion- and if so- how to get it right.
1. Is the election an essential topic? Should all brands be discussing it in some way?
Increasingly brands are being asked what they think about things and this year is the start of a new trend where you can't look at the election without considering other external factors that are taking place: the fact that this election itself is incredibly consequential, a global pandemic and a major conversation happening in this country about social justice.
You have to take all three of those, look at them together and think about where your brand stands. Is it right for you to take a stand— with your audience, with your customers, with your stakeholders?
Most brands are going to have to be part of the conversation one way or another and you need to at least be discussing it internally. Whether or not you take it external is on a case-by-case basis, but you need to be preparing to join that discussion.
2. How should you decide if your brand should join the conversation?
Everyone should ask themselves: How is your brand different? What community are you in and what are they expecting? The election is playing out in front of us on a 24/7 basis so if you are a brand that someone loves that person might easily be thinking, "Does this brand align with my values?"
Decide how you will publicly communicate your brand values to your audience.
3. How do brands showcase a non-partisan view related to the election?
Brands need to be increasingly creative and smart on how corporate or brand-specific values line up with things happening in the media so you can use them as hooks to push those narratives further.
People are really getting smart about how they perceive things in the press so brands have to be very thoughtful about how they use any events related to the administration in any kind of communication like a press release; no matter how you frame it, you're guaranteed to get some impassioned responses.
Most brands should really strive to be non-partisan unless their future faces an existential crisis that a particular side of the aisle is pushing— then you might want to be more aggressive. Otherwise you want to be able to speak down the middle, so to say.