Social enterprises play a unique role in society – and social enterprise communications need to be equally bespoke.

Today I have a guest article by Simon Francis, Founder Member, Campaign Collective. He was named in PR Week’s Power Book this week and you can find him on Twitter @si_francis.

Simon hosted #commschat a fortnight ago and I asked him to guide us through all things social enterprise related. It’s a topic that appeared to resonate among the comms community and I wanted to find out more.

Further reading: You can read the transcript online if you missed it.

If you’ve never read about Campaign Collective, I urge you to, I’ve signed up to be an associate.

Campaign Collective is a social enterprise helping charities, social enterprises, public service organisations and other campaigners benefit from affordable professional communications advice and support.

With all Members having over 10 years’ experience in a range of communications skills, the Collective helps organisations create, build and deliver effective marketing campaigns.

Profits are used to subsidise support for micro charities and community organisations as well as help develop the next generation of communications professionals.

I’ll hand you over to Simon…

How does IC fit in the A-B-C of social enterprise comms?

For most brands and businesses, communications is ultimately measured in sales; the activity put in place needs to communicate the benefits of the goods or services on offer.

While this is still part and parcel of what social enterprises have to communicate, marketing for organisations that place delivering a benefit to society at the heart of what they do will ultimately need to reflect more than just sales targets.

In the recent #CommsChat on social enterprises, the overwhelming interest of participants was on the role that communications needs to play in these organisations.

From this, three broad principles for social enterprise marketing emerged – an ABC for social enterprise marketing:

  • Agitate for change
  • Build sales
  • Communicate value.

The ideal communications strategy will deliver against all three of these objectives. Tactics will campaign for change while demonstrating the product/service on offer and communicate the added value of buying from a social enterprise.

For internal comms – in its broadest sense – there is a clear role to play in successful deployment of any strategy which meets these ABC objectives.

At the heart of all three objectives will be the hard-won case studies of customers and those aided by the social enterprises’ purpose.

Ideally these should be linked: the purchaser who was attracted to the social purpose or who heard from someone who had benefitted from the social enterprise.

But also, it is vital that all staff are clear on the social purpose. For smaller social enterprises, this is potentially simpler, but must not be overlooked.

Even in setting up Campaign Collective, we have found challenges in ensuring all our Members and Associates understand our social purpose and how to sell our marketing social enterprise to potential clients.

Scale this up to a larger organisation and the challenges multiply. Ensuring consistency of message about what the organisation is agitating to change and precisely how it is better than other non social enterprise alternatives is key to success.

But the rewards for maintaining a watchful eye on IC can yield real results.

With a consistency of message, the world will open up to social enterprises as potential customers and staff are inspired by the vision of what they can achieve and convinced by the benefit of “Buying Social”.

What do you think? You can continue the conversation with @si_francis on Twitter.

Post author: Simon Francis.

First published on the All Things IC blog 10 March 2017.

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