Standing up for purpose and profit

Written by Francesca Rivett-Carnac

This week Stand Agency joined a community of PR agencies and individuals across the world who practice Impact Relations – a fast-growing communications discipline that supports the work of pioneering businesses and organisations who are driven by purpose as well as profit.

At the heart of Impact Relations is the belief that communications can influence positive social and environmental change. By telling the stories of businesses who are focused on creating value beyond profit, whether social or environmental, the Impact Relations community is helping brands to improve their bottom line whilst addressing some of the biggest issues facing the world today.

As conscious consumerism continues to change buying behaviour, businesses are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate their purpose, in order to maintain competitive advantage. They need to show that they are acting in the best interests of sustainability, transparency and fair employment practice. The lingering perception that purpose somehow comes at the expense of profit is being turned on its head by companies who are making a genuine positive social and environmental impact whilst maintaining a healthy bottom line. Ikea, Unilever and Patagonia are three of many examples.

Of course, the world of purpose-led communications has its challenges. With the promise of stronger social capital and customer loyalty, it’s all too easy for brands to aim for the halo without putting in the hard work. Brands who are beginning to think and talk about social and environmental change should of course be encouraged. But we need to be careful as an industry not to create a culture where ‘purpose’ becomes a beautiful mask that hides less attractive realities within. To coin Unilever chief exec Alan Jope’s phrase at Cannes earlier this month, “woke-washing” is on the rise, and we need to be aware of it.

That’s where ‘impact’ really comes in. Brand purpose can be a nebulous idea unless it comes hand in hand with carefully-measured impact. The Impact Relations community is working hard to measure the environmental and social impact of its campaigns to ensure our work stays firmly rooted in genuine change – rather than superficial shine. We’re here to help companies do good, not just look good.

We believe the PR and communications industry has a vital role to play in supporting the growing impact economy. Stand Agency has been working with pioneering businesses and not-for-profits focused on positive change since we launched in 2012, and we’re more determined than ever to ensure those businesses who are genuinely committed to positive impact are given world-class communications support to help them achieve their goals.

If you’d like to be part of our journey, please get in touch.

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