What is Purpose-Driven PR?
Purpose-driven public relations is an essential tool for any company with social, cultural or environmental values at its heart who seeks to structure and communicate their key messages and goals to a wider audience.
Previously, PR may have had a negative reputation in this sphere, with hesitations that it could be used as a fig leaf enabling corporations to inflate their green initiatives in an effort to falsely improve their public image a process known as greenwashing.
Companies being exposed for greenwashing, often by former employees, has at times led to more negative media attention than if they had not tried to do anything. Now organisations are more likely to understand they can talk about real change from the inside and can be exposed if they try to use a veneer to present a different image. The public have become much more interested in how organisations and companies work and with that increased interest comes an ability to spot which companies are trying to use messages that do not fit with who they truly are.
Purpose over profit is increasingly relevant for businesses, as general awareness of global climate change and societal issues grows. People are waking up to the impact of business and increasingly, companies must incorporate and communicate their key values in order to maintain a loyal customer base.
A recent Forbes article found that 64 percent of consumers point to shared values as their main reason for working with a brand, and 90 percent expect companies to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. Meanwhile 84 percent of consumers say they purchase socially responsible products whenever possible.
These statistics signal a marked shift in popularity towards purpose driven brands, with companies such as Dove and Ben & Jerry’s outperforming those without a clear purpose by up to 50 percent. Not only does purpose attract customers by reflecting their values, it also attracts the best talent to the business.
At Higginson Strategy we only work with companies genuinely working to have a clear positive impact whether it be socially, environmentally, or culturally. We are committed to the idea of business for good. To us, industry holds the key to a better future and we work closely with clients to deliver a strategic approach to help them effectively share their mission with the world.
Our clients are a mixture of public and private sector, including: NGOs; think-tanks; charities; membership organisations; corporations; and businesses.
Taking on a bespoke approach with each of our clients, our purpose driven PR strategy directly aligns with an organisations’ long-term goals and specific target audiences. We help them to identify and communicate their core purpose, to deliver genuine change.
Most of our clients’ products or services have been developed specifically to address a global problem.
Examples include anti-plastic NGOs campaigning to turn off the plastic tap, firms creating breakthrough plastic alternative materials, charities leading the fight against human trafficking, female genital mutilation and education inequality, funds investing in psychedelic healthcare to revolutionise the treatment of depression to property funds and social housing non-profits tackling the housing crisis.
Our internal consultancies Nature 2030, Empower and the Real Circularity Coalition are a testament to our company’s purpose and the desire to deliver meaningful change. Most recently our female empowerment initiative Empower, chaired by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, launched a campaign promoting job-share as a means to close the gender pay-gap. Meanwhile, Nature 2030 worked with the Ella Roberta Family Foundation to get clean air legislation passed in Parliament.
What to expect
The Higginson team works closely with organisations to understand their clear purpose, core values and messages. Higginson Strategy then builds out and magnifies this purpose with an end goal of promoting these values to target stakeholders which can include: customers; investors; employees; policymakers; or the general public.
Our range of services vary depending on a client’s individual needs but an example offering could include a traditional newsroom function, including proactive and reactive media engagement.
This is driven by media monitoring the news agenda, where Higginson will track breaking stories before the embargo lands, drafting reactive commentary for media outlets on behalf of our clients, positioning them as go-to experts on world issues.
Deploying our team of former journalists and political speech writers, we work with clients to draft and place opinion pieces in national and international publications on behalf of CEOs, founders and C-suite leaders. This raises the profile of individuals as well as solidifying their status as media commentators on relevant topics.
Beyond our team of former journalists, Higginson is also home to policy and politics experts who work with companies to promote their policy agenda with leading politicians. We are leaders in integrated campaigning, leveraging the impetus created by news stories and opinion pieces to shift both public awareness and Government policy.
Beyond conventional modes of communication and campaigning, Higginson Strategy provides a high-quality social media service. Social media is fast becoming a vital way to communicate with stakeholders and promote your messaging to a wider audience. We devise comprehensive social media campaigns using our in-house graphic designer to deliver visually arresting and insightful strategies for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
We also offer an expert select committee training service for any clients preparing to give evidence in a Select Committee Inquiry.
We have worked on some extraordinary purpose-led campaigns since being founded in 2017 with key examples including:
Case Study 1
Challenge: IMAGINE is an organisation set up by Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, with a mission to hardwire ESG into the work of big brands and to bring together CEOs from the world’s biggest companies to create tipping points for change. An example of their work is the Fashion Pact, bringing together over 60 competitors and partners across regions and cultures to improve the sustainability performance of the whole industry.
IMAGINE came to Higginson with the goal of communicating their thoughts on how businesses can accomplish this in front of a global audience.
Solution: Higginson worked directly with Paul Polman and Valerie Keller, to draft quality thought leadership pieces, spanning in theme from the International Day of People With Disabilities to the attack on the Capitol building in Washington.
Outcome: Working with IMAGINE, we drafted and place eight pieces over four months with pieces including an appeal for businesses to root out disability exclusion, a rallying cry against ‘pandemic isolationism’ and a tribute to Indonesia’s work to halt deforestation all in The Independent.
In addition, we secured two pieces in Fortune, one on his grandchildren’s wishes for the planet and another on the scourge of greenwashing. Finally, he wrote for Business Leader, calling for a major shake-up of UK corporate governance. These pieces have a total readership figure of 437,271,000.
Case Study 2
THE GIRL GENERATION
Challenge: The Girl Generation is an extraordinary organisation with the single mission to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in a generation. This crucial goal needed an international campaign to reach across 10 countries and to capture the attention of the public, navigating a taboo issue that has previously alienated intended audience.
Solution: Higginson worked with The Girl Generation to deliver the first pan-African Youth Summit dedicated to ending FGM, attended by young people from across 17 countries. By mobilising local activists, Higginson was able to support The Girl Generation in enacting on the ground change.
Outcome: Working alongside an Africa-based agency Higginson helped the social media campaign #IHaveSpoken be seen by over 20 million people online, alongside securing global media coverage that was seen by over 1,000,000 people.
Case Study 3
IT’S A PENALTY
Challenge: Global NGO It’s a Penalty aims to harness the power of sport to prevent trafficking and exploitation. They wanted to increase their following and engagement so they could communicate their message to a wider audience.
Solution: Higginson Strategy supported It’s a Penalty in their campaign around the Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida. Higginson produced hard-hitting visuals and a social media strategy for the campaign, drafting and scheduling eye-catching content to capture the imagination of the public.
Outcome: Over the course of the campaign, It’s a Penalty’s social media channels saw significant growth in following and engagement. The social media campaign reached more than 1m people on Instagram and Facebook and contributed to the successful rescue of 16 missing children in Florida
Case Study 4
A Plastic Planet
Challenge: Set up by two campaigners, A Plastic Planet needed to accelerate quickly from an idea to a full campaign pressuring supermarkets to create a Plastic Free Aisle. But in early 2017, pre-Blue Planet 2, the world’s media had not yet woken up to the plastic crisis.
Solution: Using big-bang media tactics, Higginson ensured that hundreds of millions of people have read about the campaign via extensive coverage in world-class titles like the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC and CNN.
Outcome: Higginson has fuelled A Plastic Planet’s meteoric rise to become one of the world’s most respected campaign movements in the plastic-free space. Our campaigning with the organisation spans both media and public affairs, using political support to gain media traction and media coverage to harness political support. In February 2018, A Plastic Planet launched the world’s first Plastic Free Aisle in supermarkets.
Quote: “Higginson had a clear goal. To make APP one of the most effective forces for plastic free change in British politics. Higginson achieved both the deliverables asked of them, focusing the minds of key politicians on plastic pollution at a time when Brexit is causing chaos, opening the door for us to ignite and inspire change from within Government.” Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet Founder
Case Study 5
At Higginson we are dedicated to making the world a better place. This is not only reflected in our client work but also from within our own company. Our purpose-driven team identified a need for a female-empowerment consultancy identifying and promoting ways of addressing gender disparity. So we set up Empower.
Empower identifies clear problems facing women today and works with relevant politicians, companies and NGOs to find solutions to these problems.
We launched Empower in Parliament in 2019, with a panel including Jess Phillips MP and chaired by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
Since launch, Empower successfully campaigned for sexism to be recognised in the online harms White Paper, with coverage secured in The Guardian and Independent among others. It is now working on flexible working and job-share as a vital way to close the gender pay-gap in this country, with a recent letter published in the Telegraph.
Case Study 6
Challenge: Despite women increasingly becoming wealth-holders, the finance industry remains dominated by men and aimed at men. WealthiHer is an inspiring organisation that is putting women at the front and centre of conversations around investment.
Solution: Higginson support WealthiHer in the creation of the ‘WealthiHer Report’. This highlighted the issues women face when it comes to finance, and outlined how the industry must improve for women.
Outcome: Following the report, and the subsequent coverage in major national publications, leaders within the world’s biggest financial institutions pledged to make changes. The report was covered Financial Times, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Times amongst others.
If you’re a business with a purpose, and you share our mission to change the world for the better, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how we can support your communications.