The Buzz About B Corps – Why You Should Care

Photo Credit: B Corporation https://www.bcorporation.net/
Photo Credit: B Corporation https://www.bcorporation.net/

By Kat Beaulieu, Communications Strategist

Remember when you were back in business class and it first dawned on you that the system is rigged against people who want to do good AND make money? I do. It was one of those “Wait – what?” moments where I felt another shred of my ignorance/innocence slipping away.

My big “a-ha, well-duh” moment followed this obvious nugget of truth: corporations are legally obligated to make money for their shareholders, so their decision-making is necessarily driven by profit. Non-profits on the other hand, are legally forbidden from making a profit, so they’re actually discouraged from creating wealth for their employees.

In my own selfish way, I remember thinking my choices were to either embrace a life of poverty working for a non-profit, or cobble together some financial comfort by turning a blind eye to some of my ideals and working for the big, bad corporation. I suppose I’d had enough of the starving student scene and a martyr I am not, so off to the corporate world I went.

I’m certain I wasn’t the only person faced with this decision, and fortunately there are some smarter and more committed people than me who have been working to change the system, so that now (since 2010 in Maryland and now in 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia), there IS an alternative to choosing between non-profit or for-profit. It’s called a benefit corporation, or B Corp, and it is both shaping and shaking up how business, employee recruitment and consumer spending are going to look in the near future. Why? Because Y and Z.

Generations Y and Z, that is. Unlike prior generations, Y and Z haven’t had to sever that part of their conscience that chooses between “good” non-profit and “evil” for-profit, because they’ve grown up with companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation showing us that companies can be both for-profit and good. That’s exactly what B Corps are – they are people using business as a force for good™. They have shareholders, but they’re not exclusively tied to them—they’re also legally obligated to serve their mission, which can be anything from delivering shoes to third-world children to achieving world peace.

 

The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet.

Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia

 

Y and Z can choose to give their money and their brains to “good” companies, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. What this means for traditional corporations is that in order to remain competitive for Y and Z’s brains and share of wallet, they’re going to have to start upping the ante in terms of the “good” they’re doing inside and outside of the organization. And these are the stories that need to take priority in press releases. These are the stories that are going to capture media attention, get shared on social media, and ultimately drive Y and Z’s choices.

Why (or Y) is this important? Because Ys, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) in the US.

Are you panicked yet? You should be! The B Corps are coming and if your PR strategy has been focused exclusively on profits and growth, it’s time to change tactics. Talk up the great initiatives your employees have been collaborating with non-profits on, and the positive impact your organization has had on your community. Turn your eyes to measure the social good you’ve achieved each quarter, rather than earnings alone.

So whose wallet and brains is your organization targeting and what mediums are you using to get those stories out? Is it time to YZ up?

Kat Beaulieu would love to repent for some of her ideal-stomping past and help you craft a YZ targeted communications strategy that profiles the social good you’ve been up to. Get in touch.

San Diego Public Relations Agency CEO Joins San Diego Venture Group Board

Grant Wright joins leadership of premier venture capital community associationGrant

SAN DIEGO, March 29, 2016 – The San Diego Venture Group (SDVG) has elected San Diego public relations agency (W)right On Communications CEO Grant Wright to the Board of Directors. Additionally, Wright is leading a new sub-group of Board Directors dedicated to advancing effective communications for SDVG.

Previously Board Chairman of the Southern California Aviation Association for five years and Director for nine years, Wright was instrumental in helping grow that organization from an original small core of members to more than 600 corporate and 6,000 person members today. CEO of (W)right On Communication since 2004, he helped lead the San Diego public relations agency to become among the largest in California. In 2016, he was a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO awards.

“My goal with the San Diego Venture Group is to help steward the continued success of this excellent organization and introduce innovative communication methods to advance SDVG’s interests,” said Wright. “San Diego is home to one of the nation’s most exciting and growing entrepreneurial and venture capital environments. As evidence of the even stronger environment to come, Money Magazine just named San Diego the #1 US travel destination. SDVG is a great organization and I’m honored and excited to support it.”

(W)right On Communications, a San Diego Public Relations agency, specializes in public relations, marketing solutions and strategic communications services – ranging from social media marketing to multimedia and web development. (W)right On is exceptionally strong in technology public relations with experience working with the Internet of Things (IoT), major utilities, cleantech companies, and renewable energy providers.

“It’s an exciting time to invest in San Diego-based startups. We have an exceptionally strong and growing tech sector, in addition to one of the top three biotech centers globally. Just 90 minutes by air from Silicon Valley, we continue to exploit our proximity to the largest venture capital region on the planet,” stated Mike Krenn, president of San Diego Venture Group. “We are excited and fortunate to have Grant join the board. His expertise, passion for entrepreneurial ventures, and energy will help us build regional momentum.”

 

About (W)right On Communications

Founded in 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia, (W)right On Communications is a full-spectrum communications and public relations firm headquartered in San Diego, California. Specializing in hospitality, healthcare, energy, technology and development, (W)right On has produced results-driven media relations, social media and promotional campaigns and programs for clients including hotels, hospitals, utilities, startups, developers and universities. To learn more about (W)right On, visit www.wrightoncomm.com.

About San Diego Venture Group

Founded in 1986, the San Diego Venture Group (SDVG) is a non-profit organization designed to bring San Diegans who are interested in new enterprise and the process of creating it together. With a mission to provide a networking forum for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and advisors in an informal atmosphere where human expertise can foster new ventures, SDVG is comprised of professionals with bright ideas to share and the practical skills required to implement these ideas. For more information, visit www.sdvg.org.

Our picks for the top PR, marketing and social media campaigns of 2014

Top PR and Social Media Campaigns of 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, our team reflected on some of the best PR, marketing and social campaigns the year had to offer. Whether it was as extreme as Ebola or as casual as ‘Alex from Target’, here are the top five that made the cut (in no specific order):  
  1. Phillip Singh, Intern: AT&T #SummerBreak campaign
AT&T launched a social media campaign for Summer 2014 that followed a group of eight high school graduates as they spent their final months together before venturing off into the real world. The campaign was such a huge hit that AT&T launched a second campaign the same summer with a new group. The campaign was successful because it massively appealed to the target audience: teenagers. AT&T was able to combine the things that the teens of today can’t get enough of: reality television, cell phones and just about every social media platform out there. The “cast” of friends uploaded YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and Snapchats on the #SummerBreak account which garnered a huge following. It was extremely personal and interactive because followers were able to see the adventures (parties, roundtrips, beach days, etc.) in real time as they were happening, instead of watching an edited episode. This could very well set precedence for the future of reality entertainment and I think its genius. AT&T Summer
  1. Danielle Cobb, Communications Coordinator: Doritos #crashthesuperbowl campaign
For the past couple of years, Doritos has launched Super Bowl campaigns where customers can create their own commercial in hopes of it being aired during the big game. User generated content is always a win in my book. It’s a great way to have people engage with your brand, build awareness and source content all at the same time. Plus, people come up with awesome ideas that Doritos probably wouldn’t have on their own. Doritos
  1. Molly Borchers, Senior Communications Strategist: How a humble little ad became the world’s biggest marketing win
This isn’t actually a campaign, but an advertisement turned viral. Enter the MailKimp. MailChimp, an email marketing company, underwrote the first season of the podcast Serial, which is the most popular podcast in the world. (We’re rabid fans here at WOC.) The quirky little ad, heard before every episode, became a meme itself thanks to an adorable mispronunciation of the brand name (listen here: https://soundcloud.com/mollyfitzpatrick-2/mailchimp-promo-on-serial). Serial producers actually created the ad, getting people on the streets of NYC to read the lines. Then started the buzz on Twitter. Serial2 Serial Serial4 This humble little ad is the runaway marketing success of the year, with more viral success than many Super Bowl ads that cost millions of dollars to air on TV.  From Oct. 3 (the day the show premiered) to Nov. 21, 1,300 tweets mentioned the hashtag #MailKimp. More than 2,400 tweets mentioned Serial and MailChimp together, equivalent to about 12 percent of the 20,200 tweets related to the email vendor during the same timeframe. The ad even spawned a MailKimp Twitter handle and people are gushing about it on Reddit. How’s that for brand awareness?
  1. Julie Wright, President: Community Outreach for a High-Density Residential Development
This was my favorite (W)right On Communications campaign of the year. We organized a series of community open houses for a client with a 13-acre redevelopment project in a tight-knit, well established coastal community. Our team did a great job getting the word out and driving attendance. We coordinated closely with all of the project’s stakeholders—developer, property management, architect, traffic consultants, landscape architects, engineers—to make sure everyone was prepared to speak accurately on the project and answer neighbors’ questions. Traffic, construction timeline, parking, safety, density, height—neighbors had a lot of questions about how they would be impacted by the increase in density. At the open house, we provided visual displays and handouts, directed neighbors to online materials and invited them to attend a series of open houses. We followed up via mail to all neighbors, thanking those who attended and notifying those who couldn’t attend about the online materials and open houses. Overall, we created many opportunities and methods for people to learn about the project and provide their input. Several people came forward to say that they really understood how the project could improve and enhance the neighborhood. Community Meeting
  1. Erica Schlesinger, Communications Strategist: Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” campaign
This year, Lay’s held their second “Do Us A Flavor” contest where fans were asked to submit their ideas for the next big chip flavor. It had a big enough “WTF” factor (read: interest) to create buzz past the initial “ask” – with flavors like Cappuccino, it was hard not to join the conversation. The campaign leveraged a number of popular digital mediums, especially social media, to get and keep the audience involved. It also built upon an existing popular campaign – sometimes, sticking with classics is the way to go. Lay's    

5 Social Media Lessons from my Green Tea Party Protest

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Here’s what I learned trying to bring back Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass after my favorite tea was discontinued.

I discovered Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass a few years ago and became hooked on its soothing, subtle flavor. All other green teas were too bitter or tasted like grass. Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass became a daily ritual for me.

But late last year, I had trouble finding my beloved product. In January, I discovered that Good Earth had overhauled its product line in a rebranding and my favorite flavor had been discontinued, tossed aside in the pursuit of the millennial market.

I did what any devoted customer in the 21st century would do: I complained to Good Earth on its Facebook page. The company responded, steering me to their new product, Citrus Kiss – part of a sassy new lineup that also included Tropical Rush, Sweet Chai of Mine, Wild Chaild, etc.

Yes, Citrus Kiss contained green tea as well as lemongrass, but it also contained stevia (a natural sweetener) which means it tasted nothing like Green Tea Lemongrass (GTL). Unacceptable! And a waste of my money!

I started a Facebook page called Bring Back Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass. Other disgruntled fans of the former product found the page and ultimately it drew nearly 200 fans.

In the process, I learned five lessons about social media that I’ll share below. You’ll have to read to the end to find out whether I scored a victory or not:

1.       It’s not the size of the audience but the depth of their engagement that matters

The Good Earth page has over 64,000 “Likes.” My page has only 749. However, my protest page attracts more comments on its material with real conversations taking place between commentators than the brand’s page. The small number of people involved are very invested in the cause and know that they’re part of a community that cares just as deeply (and who would never steer them to a pre-sweetened alternative!). Bring back Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass!

2.       You can’t buy engagement

Early in my protest, I would go to Good Earth’s Facebook page and comment using my page’s identity on the complaints of other ex-GTL customers. My message was always respectful. I just wanted to let the poor tea drinker know our page existed and that they could find others who shared their passion for the product there.

Then, suddenly, Good Earth’s social media folks banned my page from commenting on their page. That made me mad and I had to get even.

So I spent $30 or so to grow my page’s following quickly – targeting fans of Good Earth’s page specifically. The campaign added 100 followers in a flash. But those folks, like Good Earth’s thousands of followers, didn’t interact like the ones who engaged organically. So I didn’t continue it. Instead, I would occasionally post as myself on Good Earth’s page with a link to the Bring Back GE GTL page. That strategy was slower but far more effective. I would have done it more often but I’ve got other things to do besides fighting to bring back Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass.

3.       The Facebook algorithm is a beast and must be fed continually or atrophy

Once I had more of an audience, I felt Good Earth would take the page more seriously. However, I noticed that if I got too busy to show my page some love for a few days, my next post would get fewer likes or comments. On the other hand, if I kept up my activity, I saw more interaction.

Another helpful activity was to continually like, comment on and tag commentators in replies (if their settings allowed it). This helped stimulate more engagement, which raised the visibility of the posts so that more people saw them. But it was also a strategy that recognized we are all human and social media must always be approached as a conversation and not just ad copy or canned responses.

4.       Social media is a conversation

That’s truly the only approach that works.

I shared my picture on the Bring Back Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass Facebook page so people would know I am real and just like them. I made some really cool connections, too, which has become my favorite part of this experience.

Al and Sheila from New Jersey mailed me a few GE GTL Decaf teabags after they won an eBay auction of some of the discontinued stock. I loved Al’s note that came with the bags. I mailed one of those teabags back to Christina in Tulsa who had tipped me off to the eBay sale in the first place. There were so many others… Inna from San Clemente. Lisa. Chanan. Nigel.

One person credited GE GTL with getting him through MBA school. Another said it got her through chemo.

It’s also true to say that we were all having a conversation with Good Earth on its Facebook page, too—or at least trying to. But did we get anywhere?

5.       Social media is powerful

It worked. Sort of. At the end of April, Good Earth announced that they would be bringing back a limited supply of GE GTL. In late May, they began taking orders. They were sold out in five days. I got two of those cases, or 12 boxes of 20 teabags. My Facebook friend Paula also found me five boxes at a CVS in Escondido since I shared some of this information on my personal Facebook page, too. (Thank you, Paula!)

The question now is whether the new Good Earth products are generating the sales the company had hoped for when they ditched their loyal customers. If not, they should bring back the classics, Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass and its decaf cousin.

Our mighty little community demonstrated the marketplace demand, and, now, Good Earth has a national network of passionate product enthusiasts they can activate the minute they decide to do so.

So, Good Earth, what are you waiting for?

 

P.S. For those of you who care about the business side of this, Good Earth was started in Santa Cruz, Calif. in 1972. It was acquired by Tetley in 2005, a subsidiary of Tata Global Beverages.

In January 2011, Tata shut down production of Good Earth in Santa Cruz and moved all the ops to New Jersey. In 2013, it launched the rebranding and basically did away with the company’s heritage and its product lines.

 

Why You Should Use Infographics to Communicate Visually

Infographics_Final

For a business, it is important to send the right message to your audience, but it is equally important that the audience can understand your message. After all, not everyone is an expert. Today, any individual can access the Internet and find very specific answers to very specific questions, but if their questions involve you or your message, how do you know that they’ll remember that information?

Information graphs or “infographs” are visual tools that communicate information simply and aesthetically. They take profuse and in-depth knowledge and present it clearly and concisely through visual representation. Infographs typically contain statistical information about a specific topic or field of work, but have also been adapted to communicate themes and ideas as well.

The value of infographics as a communication tool can be attributed to the way our brain processes information. For instance, right now you’re reading this article, line by line, taking in everything in the chronological order it was written. Because we read in a linear pattern, our brain cannot process information faster than we can supply it. The brain can process visual information up to 60,000 times faster than text, however. When you look at a picture of, let’s say a beach, every element of the photo is interpreted simultaneously, so you know the image is of a beach. Even when viewed separately, say separate images of palm trees, sand, or waves, you can infer that a beach is connected to these themes. However, after just describing a beach to you, you had to process that information linearly (e.g. palm trees -> sand -> waves = probably a beach).

Infographics are a valuable communication tool. When communicating with your audience, as a business or otherwise, an infograph brings a level of professionalism and expertise in a given topic through your ability to clearly convey complex data or information. Additionally, people want more visual content. In fact, there has been an 800 percent increase in “infographic” searches on Google throughout the past two years. The viral potential for visual content is at its highest. Who knows, maybe your next infographic could be your breakout in Internet immortality.