This study is provided by the IPR Street Team, a team of students writers and graphic designers who help IPR bring the latest research that matters to the practice. 

This study appears courtesy of Global Strategy Group.

Americans expect brands to take action on issues and drive change.

Global Strategy Group released their sixth annual business and politics study that analyzed the actions companies need to take to succeed in this society that is empowered by social change issues called Doing Business in an Activist World: 6th Annual Business & Politics Study.

Global Strategy Group witnessed record levels of political activity and activism this past year. Some of this activity included the Women’s March, the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, the reaction to the Kavanaugh hearings, and the immigration debate. This study underscores the actions that companies need to take to succeed in this new activist environment.

“People aren’t just marching, they are voting. Enthusiasm rose to levels never seen before for midterm elections. Turnout was historic – the highest for a midterm election in over a century. And people voted for change – which we saw in the record number of women and “firsts” elected to office,” (Global Strategy Group).

Key Takeaways

  • There is a reward for organizations that take a stand for political and social issues
  • Companies need to understand their consumers’ ideology and politics to know their consumers
  • Companies must lay the groundwork with their key stakeholders before large activism issues hit

Don’t sit on the sidelines for social issues.

Because consumers are losing their trust in institutions to drive change, it is the companies opportunity to connect with their consumers, employees and stakeholders who want to act on important issues.

By the numbers:

  • From 2016 to 2018, Americans went from 92 percent to 81 percent for how much they thought Congress was responsible for bringing about social change
  • Americans now trust the President 4 percent less than they did in 2016
  • Americans now think that everyday Americans are 6 percent more likely to bring about social change compared with 2016
  • In 2018, 38 percent of Americans “strongly agreed” that companies have the power to influence change

Do your homework about your consumers’ politics and ideology

For years, companies have worked to comprehend consumer sentiment about their brand and products. It’s vital to understand where your audience stands and on what issues. In political campaigns, time and resources are spent on convincing swing voters and are not wasted on the opposers that will never support them. Companies need to adopt a similar approach to their consumers.

By the numbers

  • From 2014 to 2017, 44 percent of Americans rose to 62 percent for thinking that it is appropriate for a corporation to take a position on transgender issues
  • 54 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrats think it is appropriate for an organization to take a stand on gun safety
  • From 2014 to 2018, the amount of Americans that thought it was appropriate for a corporation to take a stance on LGBT equality increased by 16 percent
  • Americans were asked if a company were a person, do you think it would be a Democrat, Republican or an Independent. 30 percent said Nike would be “More Democrat” and 19 percent thought JP Morgan Chase would be “More Republican”

Companies need to lay the groundwork with their key stakeholders before an issue hits

The more consistent a company is and the more they prepare their audience to anticipate their position, the easier it will be to bring their audience along with them. Companies are given large latitudes by their customers on issues they believe are in line with their company values. Organizations need to communicate their reasoning for why they weigh in on the issue.

By the numbers:

  • 92 percent of Americans agree that it is important for companies to take positions on issues that are in line with their company values
  • 72 percent agree that companies stand up for what they believe in politically
  • 54 percent of Americans would more likely support a company if they put a lot of thought into their decision
  • 88 percent of Americans think it is appropriate to give a paid day off for employees to vote

To read the full study, please visit:

Jeana Fraser is a writer for the IPR Street Team. She is a junior majoring in public relations at the University of Florida. Follow her on Twitter @jeana_fraser.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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