Although 71% of people want businesses to speak up on social issues, sometimes silence is still the best choice for businesses and some issues are “safer” than others: More consumers would stop shopping with a business that took a stance on politics (15%) than on the environment (2%).
WASHINGTON, DC, April 3, 2019 — People expect businesses to demonstrate corporate social responsibility by taking stances on pertinent social issues. Some issues, however, are more divisive than others, according to a study by Clutch, the leading B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm.
People support businesses that take stances related to the environment (89%), human rights (80%), gender (74%), and to a lesser extent, politics (56%). Issues related to the environment and human rights are the least likely to cause controversy.
“The environment and human rights are universal,” said Patrick McCaully, CEO of Pointman News Creation, a public relations agency. “These will always be issues that resonate with people.”
Businesses Should Avoid Political Stances
Political social issues are among the most divisive.
People are more likely to stop shopping with a company that supports movements related to politics (15%) and gender (10%) than the environment (2%) and human rights (5%).
According to PR agencies and experts, this is particularly challenging for businesses as the line between what is and isn’t political blurs. Businesses should consider how the issue relates to their brand identity and if it will resonate with their audience.
Silence Can Be Best Option for PR
Regardless if a business decides to speak up or stay silent on controversial social issues, it should be prepared for backlash.
Businesses that stay silent, however, run a lower chance of losing customers than those that take a stance.
Nearly two-thirds of people (63%) are likely to continue shopping at businesses that stay silent on issues they care about, while slightly fewer people (58%) say they would continue shopping at businesses that take stances on issues they disagree with.
“You don’t make the decision to jump into a social movement because it's trendy or to generate buzz,” said Scott Hancock, CEO of BLVR branding agency. “You do it because it is a belief that runs through the soul of your brand.”
Businesses Can Use Social Media to Communicate Stances to Customers
Most people (52%) say businesses should communicate stances on social issues through social media. However, businesses risk losing control of the intended message and need to have a well-planned crisis communications strategy in place.
“Once you take a strong position through public relations or social media, it had better be what you believe, can back up, and feel good about as a company because you’re going to open yourself up to criticism," McCaully said.
Clutch’s 2019 PR and Corporate Social Responsibility Survey included 420 U.S. consumers who made a purchase within the last 6 months.
Read the full report here: https://clutch.co/pr-firms/resources/social-issues-people-expect-businesses-support.
For questions about the survey, a comment on the findings, or an introduction to the industry experts included in the report, contact Toby Cox at [email protected]
A B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm in the heart of Washington, DC, Clutch connects small and medium businesses with the best-fit agencies, software, or consultants they need to tackle business challenges with confidence. Clutch’s methodology compares business service providers and software in a specific market based on verified client reviews, services offered, work quality, and market presence.