Successful Strategic Activism 101: How Brands Go Beyond Taking a Stand

In this first post of our series, I’ll share some of the key ingredients for maximizing the benefits of your strategic activism including the basic elements that any smart campaign should include. Future posts will feature exclusive details including best practices and real world case studies based on our firsthand experience. This information is ideal for brands that are new to strategic activism or want to elevate their leadership in this space.

For those new to strategic activism and public policy advocacy, some great examples of successful campaigns include Seventh Generation's #ComeClean campaign and Beautycounter's work with the Counteract Coalition.

Engagement essential for maximizing benefits

Engaging customers or clients in your activism is absolutely essential for generating lasting value. It makes your activism more authentic, credible, and powerful. If you’re not part of the discussion, making your voice, your perspective, your interests heard, someone else is making decisions that affect your business, your employees, your customers on your behalf – not always in a way that aligns with your values and your mission. 

Basic elements of smart strategic activism campaigns

There are four basic elements involved in a successful strategic activism campaign:

•    Issue identification

•    Campaign planning

•    Implementation

•    Evaluation

Within each of these elements are a number of key tasks that you'll want to consider. Colin Price Consulting has extensive experience working with brands that are experienced with strategic activism as well as those that are totally new to the space. We're here to help!

Issue identification is all about finding the right topic for your brand

Your starting point in strategic activism is identifying the right issue, which depends on a variety of factors including both internal and external considerations (Hint: relevance is critical). You'll want to find the best alignment between what matters to customers, investors, and employees. There are probably lots of issues you could engage on, but you'll want to be smart about which one you decide to prioritize because it will impact your credibility.

Campaign planning is where you set the stage for success

Once a priority issue is identified, the success of your campaign will depend on how well you plan, which can vary dramatically in complexity (i.e. local or state campaigns are going to be less complex than a national/Federal campaign). We all know that planning can be a bear sometimes, but for strategic activism it's critical for success.

Implementation is where authenticity is created

Now to the action! Successful strategic activism requires the three P’s: Patience, Persistence, and Partnerships, and sometimes a fourth “P” of being a little Pissed off. Implementation is where you go beyond taking a stand and start taking action. This is where you acquire new customers while building the brand. It's also one of the pieces that your employees will find most rewarding and build their sense of purpose, which research suggests is important to employee loyalty

Evaluation gives you return on investment

Evaluation will allow you to determine the success of your campaign based on the metrics identified during the planning step, and data collected during implementation. This is where you quantify the value of your campaign, identify opportunities for improvement, and build on your strengths.

In our next post, we’ll dig in to the first element of successful strategic activism campaigns: Issue Identification.