Archive for July, 2013

Social Responsibility and Small Business

woman business owner

Too often when we talk about social responsibility in business, the default image is of some large corporation or conglomerate, and what they are or aren’t doing in their business to make the world a better place. Rarely do we stop to think or talk about how small businesses—like ours, MediaWorks, Inc.—can be engaged as socially responsible businesses. We recently ran across a great article from Stanford Social Innovation Review that offers a powerful narrative and a template for how even the smallest businesses can engage in socially responsible business practices. It starts like this:

How To Be A Socially Responsible Small Business

1)      Your money is a powerful vehicle for change. Every dollar that you spend is an opportunity to make a conscious choice to support values-aligned businesses. Your dollar is your “vote.”

2)      Buy local. Coffee, lunch, office supplies, support services, including insurance, banking, repairs, office supplies, office security, etc. These are all services needed by most businesses that can have a measurable impact on a community when purchased, where possible, locally.                   small retail shop

3)      That measurable impact is known as the “multiplier effect.” Dollars spent locally tend to circulate longer within a local community and they’ve also been reported to increase levels of collaboration and mutual support among businesses, as well as total dollars spent.

4)      Giving back. The book on which the Stanford Review article is based, Small Business, Big Change: A Microentrepreneur’s Guide to Social Responsibility, offers a couple of creative ways that small business can give back to their community.

  • Contribute cash or in-kind donations to local causes and organizations that serve community needs.
  • Donate a percent of revenues or a percent of the cost of products or services to community organizations you support.

To find out more of the details, we highly recommend reading the article, or perhaps buying the book. But most importantly, realize there’s an important role for small businesses to play in social responsibility.

We’re already engaging in some of these practices (buying local), and look forward to more ways to do our part. Your small business can send out a powerful message about social responsibility in its local practices that can become a catalyst for communitywide, and perhaps global, change.

Businesswoman Assisting Customers

One last thing, here’s an update on the “big picture” in CSR, “How the Voice of the People is Driving Corporate Social Responsibility,” from Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/07/how_the_voice_of_the_people_is.html?utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet&utm_campaign=Socialflow

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Reclaiming A Brand: The PR Story of Velcro

Xerox did it. Kleenex did it. Post-its did it. Now Twinkies, among others, are working to do it. The “it” here is reclaiming a brand from potential generic usage and, in the process, losing a valuable business trademark. Now VELCRO is working to do it. We all know what “velcro” is—that incredibly handy fastening device used to seal and unseal everything from shoes, bags, backpacks, briefcases, coats, swimsuits, scuba wear, household devices, and even disposable diapers.

hook and loop

Velcro-style hook and hoop fastener

Well, what many may not be aware is that VELCRO is a company and a brand, not just a fastening material—categorically known as ‘hook and loop’ fasteners. So now, in case you missed the previous rebranding campaigns cited above, here’s another opportunity to watch a global company as it embarks on a rebranding effort  to “snatch back” its singular identity in the public mind. It’s a fascinating public relations and marketing case study, not to be missed.

For starters, here’s a few things to know:

VELCRO kicked off its rebranding initiative in March, 2012 with a public announcement and the unveiling of its Brand website:

http://www.velcro.com/About-Us/Press-and-News/Velcro-Website-Launch.aspx

As the larger campaign unfolds, it is perhaps just now just coming into public awareness, with online advertising and stronger social media presence.

Velcro ad

As we said, this will be a very interesting campaign to watch. See if it changes your own understanding and behavior.

Also, for the fun of it, here’s a list of other companies who’ve had to travel down this same rebranding path, albeit, perhaps not so successfully. Keep in mind, for us it might seem like the game of “Trivial Pursuit”; for these companies, it’s big and serious business!

Note: We’re riding a trend! Shortly after we published this post, we found these  write-ups on similar campaigns underway with Xerox (http://bit.ly/1b4OSsR) and Twinkies (http://bit.ly/18cvGt1), also mentioned in our story. All are worth checking out for the hows & whys and lessons learned.

 


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