Today, Dick’s Sporting Goods said they would no longer sell assault-style rifles in response to the Parkland school massacre. In the wake of the shooting, the company joins dozens of brands that have cut ties with the National Rifle Association, including banks, healthcare companies, insurers and tech firms. There are also boycotts brewing against Amazon, Roku, Apple TV and FedEx (which is in a feud with UPS, which does not offer the NRA discounts) over their relationships with the group.But this is just the latest example of how businesses are now finding themselves in the crosshairs of cultural movements and social issues seemingly unrelated to their brands. As my colleague Beth Monaghan and I wrote 15 months ago, businesses are now being compelled to be a part of our national discourse on political issues whether they want to be or not.
In such an environment, there are a few communications strategies to consider.
First: Be ready. I know that’s hard. One cannot imagine that Delta considered the NRA when it created its crisis plan, which no doubt includes more related issues such as a massive grounding of its fleet, a pilot’s strike or a horrific airplane disaster. But the company’s discount to members of the NRA could have been flagged as
Second: Be authentic. Dick’s statement is neither watered-down nor robotic. It is true to the values the company holds dear. It is an emotional
Third: While issuing a statement or taking a stand might be an important first step for a brand in the midst of a storm, consider going further. What else can a company do to make a difference in the world? How can it activate employees or consumers to do more? How can it lead