PR expert thoughts: Brands can make 2017 better

Christmas tree farm in Iowa.
All day long the radio is filled with seasonal songs and run downs of the best tracks from the best albums of another 12 months crammed with Best Ofs. The shops are rammed and overflowing with hints at the time of year, and there’s an entire TV channel dedicated to festive cheer.
The evidence points to one truth- Christmas is here and, unsurprisingly, some people are pretty relieved. 2016 has, after all, been a troublesome calendar to survive, not least if you happen to be a musical legend. Celebrity deaths alone have marked it out as one of the least fun-filled ever, and this is before anyone mentions climate change catastrophes, wars, political unpleasantries and a certain rail operator.
Here at Smoking Gun, though, the agency’s status as a PR expert doesn’t come from regrets, but rather a positive look forward. And brands can have a huge impact on turning all the great potential into even-better times. On this blog we’ve discussed Corporate Social Responsibility more than once, celebrated the best charitable campaigns and have practiced what we preach since day one.
This reflects the fact we are all lovely people, and also mirrors a growing trend- working for a responsible employer is of increasing importance to millennial job candidates. HR software giant Lumesse has even released a white paper on the subject. The result being many brands trying to rally behind causes in an effort to win favour.
This doesn’t always work, though. Max Lenderman, CEO of human-centric creative agency School, has been quoted elsewhere on the difference between companies that back something, and companies that stand for something properly. The 16-30 year old global demographic also know this, are market savvy to the point of accurately judging which firms fall on which side of the fence, and avoid what they view to be transparent and cynical opportunism. And Deloitte conducted a survey which concluded millennials are more concerned with happiness at work than control, and they would like to see business focuses changed to value employees and people more.
With this in mind, it’s not that surprising to see Ecotricity, a UK utility provider, recently labelled one of Britain’s most disruptive businesses, with profits growing exponentially in the last three years. The company donates 10% of profits to Amnesty International, invests in renewable sources with each new customer, and has offered financial aid in the legal battle for Lancashire Council to finally win its lengthy fracking battle. Meanwhile, Ecosia has now managed to plant almost 5million trees globally, in exchange for people using the website as their internet search engine, proof of its increasing popularity.
Millennials are cited as the largest generation of all time in terms of numbers, and market dominance is, by logic, only going to increase in the coming years, as such starting the next one with a mind to a business concept that’s not just what this demographic is looking for, but also good for all of us, seems like a good idea.