Consumer activism has been heating up over the last several years. Younger generations have embraced the concept as a way to signal their approval or disapproval of brands and companies consistent with their beliefs and expectations around issues important to them (such as sustainability). “Buycotting” requires a different strategy from companies accustomed to more overt styles of activism, but it’s not the only form of activism with which organizations must contend. For example, when Nike introduced a campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — the catalyst of the take-a-knee protest — a surge of social media posts featured people burning or otherwise destroying their Nike products, a consumer protest Nike surely knew was coming.
In May’s Circle of Fellows panel, four IABC Fellows explore the steps organizations need to take to mitigate the risk of reputational crises and address the challenges of consumer activism in highly politicized environments by listening to your customers, understanding their concerns and shaping communication to build trust, clarify and dispel myths.
About the Panel
James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru ®, is a bestselling author, national speaker, and trusted strategic advisor to FPO and NPO business operators and leaders during crises, disasters, reputation attacks, contentiousness and when the boss’s future is at stake. Corporate Legal Times listed him as “one of 22 crisis counselors to have in your speed dial when all hell breaks loose.” For more than 30 years, he has confidentially guided hundreds of company leaders thru tough, touchy, sensitive situations. Lukaszewski’s strategies inspire constructive, ethical problem resolving management behavior. A powerful and inspirational speaker, he teaches executives and managers the lessons he has learned. A prolific author, he is quoted and interviewed often as one of the most recognizable leaders in his profession. Lukaszewski is on the web at www.e911.com.
George McGrath is founder and managing principal of McGrath Business Communications, which helps clients build winning corporate reputations, promote their products and services, and advance their views on key issues. George brings more than 25 years in PR and public affairs to his firm. Over the course of his career, he has held senior management positions at leading strategic communications and integrated marketing agencies including Hill and Knowlton, Carl Byoir & Associates, and Brouillard Communications.
Bish Mukherjee is an advisor in marketing, media, public relations, and branding. He is president of Misha Network. He did award-winning work for the Reserve Bank, BSES, Colgate-Palmolive, and Alstom. He has organized corporate events for the Queen of England, the British Prime Minister, and the French President. Bish has anchored a fortnightly TV show on Bombay TV. he was featured on Australia’s “Sixty Minutes.” Bish has taught advertising and PR. He is an executive board member of the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce and is a PRCI Hall of Fame inductee; he also serves on the board of advisors of the Public Relations Council of India, from which he received a lifetime achievement award in 2019.
Angela Sinickas is the founder of Sinickas Communications, which has worked with companies, organizations, and governments in 32 countries on six continents. Her clients include 25% of the Forbes Top 100 largest global companies. Before starting her own consulting firm, she held positions from editor to vice president in for-profit and government organizations and worked as a senior consultant and practice leader at Hewitt and Mercer. She is the author of a manual, How to Measure Your Communication Programs (now in its third edition), and chapters in several books. Her 150+ articles in professional journals can be found on her website,www.sinicom.com. Her work has been recognized with 21 international-level Gold Quill Awards from IABC, plus her firm was named IABC Boutique Agency of the Year in 2015. She holds a BS degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MS in Leadership from Northeastern University.