If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? Could the same be said for your purpose? If you’re taking meaningful steps to build a purpose-first business, but you aren’t talking about it you might be missing a huge opportunity.
During a recent interview about purpose and financial performance, the conversation drifted to reputation. The chief executive I was interviewing reminded me: Our purpose only has power if we share it.
Research shows businesses with a clear purpose outperform their peers. Part of the reason for this is that purpose-first businesses are better able to attract and retain top talent.
Purposeful businesses are also more appealing to social-concisous consumers. An audience willing to pay a premium to work with or buy from a business whose beliefs align with their own. However, in order for either of these things to happen, people need to know your purpose.
For some, sharing their purpose comes easily. But, for others, the idea of promoting your social impact feels awkward. I’ve encountered many leaders who prefer not to highlight the things they’re doing for others.
Having spent most of my career in public relations, I understand this sentiment. There’s a thin line between communications and promotions. However, the thing about purpose is that it builds connection. It has the potential to bring people together around something bigger than themselves.
You can also have far greater impact together. Keeping the positive benefits of purpose top of mind can be a great impetus to sharing the great work you’re doing.
A Powerful Reputation
Here are five easy ways to share your purpose and build a powerful reputation:
- Tell stories. Storytelling is my favorite way to share purpose. The goal is to uncover stories that illustrate your purpose in action. These might be human interest stories, customer testimonials, client case studies or first-person interviews.
- Letter-writing. Write a letter to your employees, customers or the communities you serve about how purpose drives your work. We saw this a lot during COVID as leaders wrote to their clients and customers. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s annual Letter to CEOs is another great example. I’ve also used this approach in website copy, social content, blog posts and New Year’s letters.
- Empower your employees. As a PR professional, I was taught to funnel communications through appropriate channels. But, a lot has changed. Teaching employees to share your purpose is a great way to build your reputation. #DeltaProud is a good example of this.
- Show up. As a leader, your job is to be a champion for your purpose. If it feels uncomfortable to promote the things you’re doing, the answer might be to show up in person. Attend team meetings, interact with customers, attend a grand opening event or grab a shovel alongside your employees. How you spend your time is the best reflection of your priorities.
- “Anything Else.” Interviews with the media, bloggers and podcasters are a great way to share your purpose. However, it can be awkward to force it into the conversation. The secret is to share it when the interviewer asks, “Is there anything else you’d like to add.” This is your golden opportunity. Always say yes! Then, explain how the new product, grand opening or new hire you just discussed is proof of putting your purpose into practice.