In the world of public relations, social responsibility is a critical part of the heart of a brand. It’s an important way for organizations to connect with and give back to the communities they do business in. It’s a popular tactic for mega-corporations all the way to small businesses. When it comes to personal brands, we typically associate social responsibility with the high-dollar philanthropy of celebrities, high-profile business people, or politicians.
This year, we have already seen the incredible support for relief in Haiti following January’s catastrophic earthquake, with some celebrities donating as much as $1 million to aid in disaster relief.
But social responsibility is also an important part of the lives of individuals like you and me who may contribute by volunteering for local organizations or by financial support – though probably a little less than the million-dollar philanthropic donations that make headlines all by themselves.
When it comes to social responsibility, authenticity is important for corporate and celebrity brands alike. After all, giving back is a great way to demonstrate the heart of a brand. And those like Pepsi or Target are even going so far as to crowdsource philanthropy dollars – ostensibly to reinforce the idea that they care about what their customers care about.
But when it comes to personal brands, the idea of authenticity in social responsibility is even more important. After all, character is what you do when no one’s looking.
So what does that say about doing the right thing, and then asking people to look?
At first glance, the answer may seem obvious. But in today’s hyper-localized, super-personalized media environment, it’s not as cut-and-dried as you might think. In some ways, the lines are blurred a bit.
After all, your favorite charity likely to have its own Facebook page or Twitter account. And an increasingly critical way of giving back is simply to help scale and support that organization’s efforts through your own networks.
So, if you want to share some of the soul of your personal brand online, give of your money as you see fit, but skip the toot-your-own-horn approach. Instead, help build the brand of an organization you care about. Help them raise funds or recruit more volunteers. Become an official volunteer, board member, or group supporter. Help them gain awareness – online and off.
But most importantly, make social responsibility personal first. Give in ways that are meaningful to you.
Because giving not only reflects the soul, it refreshes it.
Your Turn: What do you think about supporting charitable organizations as a ‘personal brand’? Does it make your support inauthentic if you share it in a public way? Do you follow or support charities online? Do you think it makes a difference? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section!