4c) Public Relations

4) Nurturing & Growth 

GOOD PR: Ethics and Honesty Sell Themselves. So Make Your Ethics Known!

One of the most important aspects of a Social Enterprise business is to identify each and every cause or activity that your business promotes in some way. And then create a page on your website that lists all the ways your business benefits your causes.

Of course, there are many companies that claim to do just that. But your customers will know and in the age of Yelp and other online review sites, they will let the world know if your product or service is genuinely beneficial to people or the planet!

Cause-related activities are one of the best forms of Public Relations and advertising that there is because it shows that your business is not just out to make money. This increases credibility in the eyes of the public.

And by using part of your company’s profits in the furtherance of that cause your customers know that their purchase is not just for profit.

However, you have to be genuine. Many companies “support” particular charities but it is easy to see that they are only supporting it ‘for the money’.

All Social Enterprises have to be promoted. Public Relations, Advertising, and Promotion are extremely essential. If nobody knows about your website then no matter how good it is, you will have no business!

Public Relations: Transparency is Essential for Online Marketing

Create a company website to establish your causes and publicize your mission statement. When you use the web to articulate how your product or service is making the world a better place you are using one of the most powerful features of the internet.

That is the power of ‘search’! When you articulate your cause and business solution it becomes searchable content on the web. This allows like-minded people to find your business no matter where they live and no matter how ‘niche’ your cause.

This is one of the easiest and most beneficial times to be a social enterprise! For we live in the age of the internet where it is possible for any business to set up a website that describes the causes they hope to address with their business or service.

The internet allows a moral entrepreneur to articulate their business message no matter how tiny or niche based their ’cause’ is. They web allows people no matter where they live in the world to find your niche service.

Positive Virtual PR

Hedonisia Promotion Spreadsheet Template: For our PR and online promotions we created a virtual spreadsheet to show how to manage the many many ways to ethically promote your web presence. This and all other documents in the Hedonisia Handbook are free for you to use as a template for your own Social Enterprise business promotion campaigns.

We use Google Analytics for website Analysis. This free tool allows you to track your website visitors, how long they stayed on each page, where they are from.

Social Media Promotion

Using social network sites is a fantastic way to promote your business. Specialty networks such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, are a great way to allow users of your product or service to give testimonials and reviews.

One of the most important aspects of an Activist Business is to identify each and every cause or activity that your business promotes in some way. And then create a page on your website that lists all the ways your business benefits your causes.

Cause related activities are one of the best form of Public Relations and advertising that there is because it shows that your business is not just out to make money. This increases credibility in the eyes of the public.

And by using part of your company’s profits in the furtherance of that cause your customers know that their purchase is not just for profit.

However, you have to be genuine. Many companies “support” particular charities but it is easy to see that they are only supporting it ‘for the money’. This is often known as ‘greenwashing’.

As long as your product or service is making a genuine difference then the Internet is your friend! But if you are a ‘greenwasher’ then the Internet will eventually expose any false claims.

Negative PR

The Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away! If your activist entrepreneur product or service truly does make the world a little better people will talk about it. They will rave about you on social networks. But if you do not satisfy your customer those same social networks can be used to publicly castigate your business.

However, every now and then something goes wrong. It is a truism that a happy customer tells one friend, an unhappy customer tells everybody!

There are many social network sites where a person can make a negative review, even under a false name and have it immediately posted. It is good idea to occasionally search for and monitor sites that might post reviews on your social enterprise.

If you see a negative review the you have different response options:

It is important to face negative publicity head on. The Internet is simply too powerful a force for positive PR that if you let it become a fountain of negative publicity it will feed on itself and possibly destroy your business.

  • If the mistake is the fault of your company immediately rectify the situation.  State what steps you took to rectify the situation. When people see that a business is honest they are more forgiving. That is the beauty of transparency. It is not pretending to be perfect and then being called out for hypocrisy. Instead, it is being honest and receptive and making evolutionary changes. When you act upon a customer’s complaint you can turn a bad review into a positive or neutral!
  • If you feel the complaint is unjustified write to the company concerned and either request that they remove the posting as it contains libelous falsehoods. Or demand the right to state your case. Usually, such as with sites like Yelp you have the right as a business owner to post a response.
  • If the complaint is malicious and is costing your company, then you do have the right to make a court case for defamation based on your business losses. However, this should be a last option taken only in extreme circumstances. Your energy is finite and devoting precious time and resources to battle someone can be distracting from your bigger goals.

Measuring Effectiveness

A good way to measure the environmental and social value of your social enterprise is by using a triple bottom line.  There are many resources online to help you with this.

With a triple bottom line, it is possible to be operating with an accounting profit but a negative social and environmental profit–which is so many modern enterprises.  For example, if you are growing palm trees and sell 100 in a year for $1,000 a piece. You will have a revenue of $100,000. Let us say your expense, things like fertilizer, gas, and labor are $60,000. From an accounting perspective, your profit is $40,000.

Revenue$100,000
Expenses($60,000)
Accounting Profit$40,000

That’s not bad for a year farming.  But if we consider the environmental and social value, we may see a different story.  Let us say you are using artificial chemical fertilizers which leave the land barren and clear-cutting techniques that kill off most native species, you may have incurred a negative environmental value of $30,000.  Let’s also assume that you are not paying your workers a living wage, which saved your $20,000 but should be logged as a social cost.  In the schema of a triple bottom line, you are now running at a $10,000 loss!

Triple-Bottom Line Profit/Loss($10,000)
Revenue$100,000
Expenses($60,000)
Accounting Profit$40,000
Environmental Cost($30,000)
Social Cost($20,000)

Though it is difficult to put a value on environmental or social costs, we can still make estimates using available statistics and data. And the more such a model is used by businesses, the more accurate such measurements will become.

An Activist Entrepreneur is a Social Scientist!

Though it can cost money to be an ethical Activist Entrepreneur, there are many benefits. When your business is trying to do something good, you can measure how effective your business is in addressing that cause.

By solving social or environment problems with your business you are creating data. This data can be published on your site which in turn creates content for internet users to find your site.