As a business owner, you have the potential to influence a staggering number of people, and you need to make sure that the impact you have on those people is positive. What you do with your time, money, and public presence can influence people to do things or support causes they would otherwise have looked past. Whether you want your business to support the environment, social justice, or another cause, there are several steps you take to make sure your business has a positive impact on the world, and here are ten of them.
1. Go Green
All over the world, companies are doing their best to reduce their carbon footprints either by eliminating paper products, using renewable energy, such as the best solar panels, and recycling any waste they produce. Large companies are some of the leading contributors to pollution, so the fact that so many of them are taking the initiative to do what they can to help the planet is a good sign for the future. Making the decision to have your company become more environmentally friendly is sure to give you a public relations boost because it means that your company cares about people.
In addition to policy changes within your company, you can donate to the causes you want your company to support. Companies engage in philanthropy and donations to a variety of different charities and organizations depending on the values they wish to express to the public. You can donate to a charity that you would donate to in your personal life, or you can choose a different charity based on what you want the public perception of your business to be. Either way, make sure that your public relations team lets the public know how generous you have been with your money.
3. Social Media Presence
Make sure you hire an adept social media manager to cultivate the image you want to present online. There are often trends or causes that gain traction on social media, so your social media manager should be educated on which types of trends to jump on and causes to support. For example, every June is Pride Month to support the LGBTQ+ community. During the month of June, many companies change their profile pictures on social media to a rainbow-colored version of their logos. If your business wants to show support for a certain group, you can do so on social media.
4. Public Promotions
One way to drive extra business to your company and increase the public’s perception of you is to run deals across all of your locations. Use events that have recently transpired, holidays, or times of the year to assign themes to your deals. The most common time of the year to run deals is on Black Friday, but you can find deals in a variety of industries throughout the year, whether it is for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or a particularly significant cultural event. Decide the time of year that makes the most sense for you to offer discounts.
5. Employee Treatment
The way you treat your employees reflects immensely upon how the public perceives your business. If you treat your employees poorly, they will make sure that their friends and family know about your poor treatment, and before you know it, your public reputation is ruined. Always treat your employees well by offering them adequate benefits, days off, and creating a comfortable workplace. If your employees enjoy working at your company, they will be more likely to recommend your stores to the people they know, and your public image will get better.
6. Support Minority Groups
As mentioned above with the LGBTQ+ support on social media, it is now common practice for most companies to be very vocal in their support for all minority groups. Companies all over the world were recently stating their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and while the people running these companies likely believe the message they were spreading, it is always safe to go along with the mainstream public opinion on most issues. If everyone, including minorities, feels safe and supported in your locations, you should see an uptick in traffic and sales.
7. Take Responsibility
If your business finds itself in a precarious situation or some kind of controversy that could damage its public reputation, your public relations team will have a lot of work to do. The best thing you can do in this circumstance is to take responsibility for the actions that are your fault and apologize for them. Assure your customers that you regret the unfortunate events that have transpired and that you will strive to make sure it does not happen again. Potential customers will be far more willing to forgive you if you own up to your actions instead of making feeble excuses.
8. Encourage Community
This tip is especially important for small businesses in small, tightly-knit communities. It is important for small businesses to support the communities they exist within, even if that means inadvertently supporting competing businesses. Involve yourself in the community surrounding you. For example, support local high school sports, theater productions, festivals, and anything else that your community happens to do. Involving yourself in the day-to-day activities of the people in your community will help humanize your business. You can also run promotions alongside local events, similarly to the earlier suggestion of running promotions alongside national events.
Having upgraded and up-to-date technology will help with some of the tips above. Social media is only available on digital technology, most people get news about promotions over the internet, and modern technology simply makes your business more appealing. The main appeal of modern technology is how easy it makes communication, both interpersonal and between customer and company. When customers feel like they have a direct line of communication with a business that will listen to what they have to say, they will be more likely to patronize that business and will have a better public opinion of that business.
Stick to your guns. If you have a plan, see it through to the end. You know what is best for your business, and you should confidently assert to the public that the business decisions you make are necessary. Always be prepared to receive backlash from a certain subset of the public, but do not let that backlash deter you from what you genuinely think is the best move. However, do not become blinded by egotism. If you are receiving well thought out, legitimate criticism from large amounts of people, then it might be time to rethink your strategy.
The way the public perceives your business is directly tied to how successful your business will be, especially in the early years. It is not an easy task to keep your entire base of customers happy, and you must be prepared to be unable to please everyone. Failure is just as much a part of a business as success is. However, even through harsh criticism from a vocal minority, a generally positive public opinion can lead to a successful business. What makes the public happy is constantly changing. Keep up to date with everything going on in the world and how people are generally feeling to best capitalize on them.