Protesting for change: Why purpose-driven brands need to show up in the spaces that matter
25 March 2021 at 7:30 am
In light of the recent protests in Australia – physical and virtual – Jo Scard identifies why brands need to join the conversation and, more importantly, how.
People have been taking to the streets to march and protest for social justice for centuries. Some protests have gained so much momentum that they have changed the course of history – paving way for new laws that protect minority groups. In recent years, we’ve watched hashtags evolve into everyday references, as concerned citizens across the globe call for change on their Twitter feeds.
In Australia alone, relentless protests have led to voting rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and marriage equality for the LGBT+ community. More recently, we’ve seen our youth take to the streets to call for climate change action, and we’ve seen the Black Lives Matter movement ripple through conversations all the way from your Auntie’s Facebook status to Parliament House.
Australia now finds itself on the brink of a revolution. March 4 Justice saw thousands of protesters, across 40 cities in Australia, take to the streets in response to the recent allegations in Parliament House and the gender-based violence that still plagues our planet.
So how do brands ensure that they are joining these very necessary conversations in the right way? How do we join these marches in a way that isn’t performative, but focused wholly on being an added layer of support?
While there are significant concerns around current moves afoot by the federal government to narrow the pathways open to charities to protest, it remains a legitimate option available to them.
How can not-for-profit organisations get involved?
It’s a great idea for not-for-profit and purpose-driven organisations to attend marches that are protesting justice systems related to that of the organisation, or that are an extension of the not for profit’s values and belief systems. This means attending in any way that you can.
1. Show your presence
When attending protests, make yourself visible as an organisation to show your support and presence at the event. Try to stick together and have the team wear branded t-shirts, or print a placard with your organisation’s logo on it. However, be sure you aren’t hijacking the event.
Avoid pushing too heavily on your not-for-profit campaign at the protest, but rather use the opportunity to show your support. For example: If you are a not-for-profit organisation that offers counselling services, be sure to offer support to your fellow attendees and reiterate that you are here because your vision directly aligns with the theme of the day.
2. Get creative
Encourage your team to get creative with their signs – humour, colour, quotes or visuals – make it memorable. This is an opportunity to show your team’s values and personal beliefs as they come together as a collective.
Not only does this offer the opportunity for great content, it helps to bring together a community of like-minded individuals and shows your audience that you truly care about improving our world. These are the kinds of messages that stick with people.
3. Shout from your social rooftops
Share your support with your online community across social platforms. Demonstrate your support and presence at these significant moments in history by regularly sharing pictures to social media. Get involved with hashtags and share your organisation’s key messaging in the captions.
It is absolutely essential that NFPs and purpose-driven teams are dialling into the conversations that are happening across our feeds. COVID-19 has proven to so many of us that audiences deeply care about the morals of brands – this is a key way to show yours.
4. Leverage these opportunities in government engagement settings
Protesting can be a valuable way to engage in government advocacy. When social movements directly relate to you and your offering, you are able to show ministers why your work is important and how you are helping out in places that are relevant and important.
When engaging with ministers and policymakers, come prepared with anecdotal evidence of recent protests, petitions and digital dialogues, so that you can further prove why your work matters.
5. Put in the work – social injustices don’t stop because you do
This goes without saying, but don’t attend a protest and stop there. A protest isn’t simply a PR move – sign petitions, knock on doors, pick up the phone, continue the conversation and involve the right stakeholders. Audiences can tell instantly when a move is inauthentic or driven by motivations outside of genuine passion, so get involved in the protests that are actually important to you and your organisation.
Fifty Acres presents free fortnightly webinars for not for profits. To register visit fiftyacres.com.au/academy/
If you need help with government engagement, assistance with a strategic communications strategy or PR outreach, get in touch with Jo Scard at Fifty Acres on 02 6281 7350 or visit fiftyacres.com.au/