Last month, hundreds of public relations professionals gathered in Chicago’s digital startup hub, 1871, to attend the 2019 PRWeek conference, PRDecoded: Purpose Principles. We were thrilled to attend, getting to be amongst industry professionals and gaining insights on alike driving purpose. With an array of speakers, from Nike to Gen Z college students, the conference was nothing short of inspirational.
When a company wants to work with purpose, it is important to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. All of the panelists did a great job connecting their brand values to how they deliver on purpose. With authenticity, strength and impact, each speaker illustrated the link between purpose and profit, establishing the business case alongside the social one. Here are our three key takeaways from conference:
- Truly successful companies consider how to remain relevant in ten years, not just today. The conference began with a keynote and master class from former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, Duncan Wardle. During his address, Wardle discussed purpose-driven themes, including the importance of maintaining creativity, connecting with the consumer and delivering authentic messaging. His most poignant message was to always look ahead. Specifically, he implored PR professionals to consider how they interact with Gen Z. The up-and-coming generation craves authenticity, and, if brands do not connect with them today, inauthentic companies run the risk of becoming obsolete. Not only will Gen Z avoid purchasing products from these companies, they will not want to work for them. As Wardle wondered aloud, “How will you remain relevant ten years from now if people choose not to work for you?” Connecting with the consumer is not only an investment in today’s success – it is an investment in the future.
- Gen Z is only interested if you are authentic and transparent. Moderated by Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYouth, the “How to Harness the Domino Effect of Gen Z” panel opened up a lively a senior comms director, a Harvard student, and a high school senior. The Gen Z high school student introduced three key ideas that companies should consider when communicating with Gen Z: truth, individuality and practical innovation. He noted that a brand’s purpose should focus on identifying and listening to their target audience to create a sense of community. With these three key elements, brands are likely to not only win over their Gen Z audience, but their friends and followers as well.
- Out goes content, in comes brandcurrency. During the panel, “The Story of Purpose: Developing Content, Delivering the Message,” the discussion revolved around how best to use data in informing and developing a robust and influential message of purpose. They also discussed what channels are most appropriate for brand distribution and how to create content that underscores authenticity. Some companies are rebranding their “content” into “brandcurrency,” a term used when content and the asset are combined with purpose. This allows the business to create a value exchange and obtain human-based insights. Megan Matthews, VP of Global Communications at PayPal, noted that “when purpose is your north star, your strategy becomes very clear.”
Society will continue to look to the business world to address pressing social and economic issues. The demand for brands seeking a greater purpose is stronger than ever. As companies continue to target Gen Zers and Millennials, emphasizing measurement, innovation and social impact will only aid in identifying, driving and maximizing their purpose.