One of our of more important predictions for ongoing trends in 2018 is was no. 11:
Corporate boycotts & consumer boycotts will continue. These are boycotts by companies in order to demonstrate distance from controversial programs and personalities. We also expect boycotts of companies that are boycotting those controversial people and programs.
We’ve seen that to continue to be true in 2018, even more so than in 2017 when we first made that prediction.
In the wake of the tragic Parkland shooting, a number of big brand names have broken ties with the NRA. We’ve also seen a minor backlash to corporate boycotts — like the reaction in Georgia to canceling a tax credit to Delta, whose HQ is in Georgia. Although Delta says the cancelation of a discount for NRA members was coincidental, Delta is not backing down.
The reason — and the reason this is significant, as I told two college students who were interviewing me as part of a class project — is that corporate values are more important than ever, thanks to social media. We expect more from the companies we purchase goods and services from.
That means brands need to look at making statements on controversial political matters — something they would never have done a decade ago. More than that, they need to find the right tone and expression for that statement. It needs to fit the brand.
While the media worlds, including journalism and public relations — endure significant upheaval (which includes, notably, a news cycle that churns so fast that stories like a porn star’s suit against a U.S. president isn’t even the top story), one thing is clear. And it’s good news for PR practitioners.
PR has changed a lot over the past decade or so, but brands still need people who can tell stories that help shape brands. The best people positioned to do this are PR people who can tell a story via traditional media and social media (it has to be across both channels).