Should your company take a stand on political issues?
The political noise is far too loud to be ignored at such a time. It is officially that season when the air is pregnant with political heat in Kenya. Political rivals are dragging each other in murky waters to see who will win the masses. Our seasoned politicians are promising us all they can imagine. Honestly, it feels a little like how a gent goes to woe a lady. Convincing her why he is the perfect match for her in little lies wrapped as roses. Do not get me wrong, I love a good manifesto. But I know better than to believe people who are always paying lip service to hungry and desperate citizens. Telling them exactly what they want to hear so as to win their votes, then withdrawing and sitting pretty for the next 5-10 years. The arena is set, the players are up on stage, forming alliances with previous nemesis, trying to outperform each other.
Politics is like religion. We all hold different beliefs, and each of us is inclined to believe we are right. Trying to change a man’s political orientation is like feeding yourself to the wolves. You are likely to be torn apart as they fiercely defend their political views. We identify as a democratic society and therefore expressing or defending one’s political view is very much welcome.
As a company or organization, taking a stand on political issues is like walking on egg shells. It is a double edged sword. First things first, remember that your company serves a diverse demographic. This means people from different backgrounds who hold different beliefs about life, religion and politics. Human beings are vulnerable and the subject of politics is very emotive. It will spark different reactions and perceptions in different people. Some will feel that if you do not agree with their political orientation, then you are against them. They could even boycott your product or service. Others will be mature enough to recognize that you share varying opinions on the subject at hand but that doesn’t automatically transform into animosity. These ones know that variety is the very spice of life.
How to go about it
- Only take a political stand if it aligns with your brand’s values, mission and vision. Do not ride on every political wave, it shows indecisiveness. Don’t make any bold statements if the issue has nothing to do with your values.
- Be firm in your stand. This means, be able to defend the stand you take with facts or proper logic. Avoid taking a stand on matters that you aren’t well aware of. Remember ignorance is no defense. Do not use a political issue you know so little about as a PR strategy, it will flop terribly.
- When you take a political stance, do it respectfully. Respect will allow you to share your stand without offending people even when they disagree with you.
- Know your audience. This will help you understand what could make them tick, or what could send them into a rampage. You ought to know what is controversial or will turn them off. This information will shape the stance you take or how you take that stance.
- Drink the water you preach. Do not take a political stance yet your actions go contrary to that. You have to talk that talk and walk that walk. Credibility is a key attribute for any individual or organization.