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Community Engagement: How it Transforms Your Brand

By Kaleigh Duff on June 3, 2024

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Community engagement is the public’s involvement and role in your brand; it’s arguably the most essential to PR practice. But why is this yet another thing that a brand should prioritize? Who cares if our community is engaged as long as they purchase our products? This would be a silly thing to think; however, it seems that many brands don’t prioritize community engagement. Implementing thoughtful changes that engage the community improves brand loyalty and value. PR professionals’ work for clients at an agency or in-house at an organization is brand-focused, as those PR moves directly impact brand image, voice, and reception. PR professionals are trained to deal with the public, so having a handle on engaging those precise individuals is crucial. 

The essence of running a business is trading goods or services in exchange for (more often than not) currency, from which the business profits. Engaging the community, and more specifically, your target demographic, is the heartbeat of any brand. Essential concepts such as developing customer loyalty, developing surveying samples, advertising, ideal buyer personas, and so much more are derived from community engagement efforts. Understanding how community engagement maximizes the value and reception of a brand for both the consumers and the organization is important for your brand’s good and growth.

Consumers hold the power. When the masses vote with their feet, brands need to ensure that their values and actions align with the right side of history. An organization or brand is nothing without consumers and supporters. Reinforcing values like social responsibility and transparency are examples of qualities that younger consumers seek in a product or service. For the purpose of this explanation, let’s use social responsibility as a community engagement goal for my example brand’s development. 

Brands can seize a trending opportunity to boost positive responses and engagement. By making motions to release a sustainable development statement and including consumers in the behind-the-scenes development that goes into producing the product or service for sale, brands can build the trust they share with consumers. Consumers are beginning to develop stronger bonds, almost to an obsessive degree, with the brands that meet and align with their needs in terms of their product’s performance and how their products and services were made, designed, and developed. Combining these business decisions with surveying their target audiences and demonstrating a commitment to revolutionizing business practices to be meaningful is an example of how organizations can implement community engagement priorities into their practices. Depending on your organization or the nature of your business, implementing thoughtful guidelines like these can exponentially change your community engagement results, adding a great deal of inimitable value to your brand. 

We have seen the damage that poor business practices and a lack of desire to engage the public positively can do to a brand. Connecting to my social responsibility example, let’s talk about SHEIN. SHEIN is a ‘fast fashion’ e-commerce giant, producing thousands of products daily and shipping worldwide. For the most part, SHEIN sells and produces cost-effective women’s fashion. However, the $5 pair of see-through leggings you’re purchasing from SHEIN was likely assembled in a factory where employees are exploited and allegedly not paid more than a few cents per item produced. This has led to a widespread distaste for the brand, leading consumers to spend their money elsewhere if they can. SHEIN is not world-renowned for its community engagement efforts. Since being outed as an exploitative business, as well as a deadly risk to the environment due to the wasteful nature of their low-quality products, their brand image and reputation will continue to suffer as time passes. 

Good community engagement practices don’t only pay off if you’re a consumer. As mentioned, the benefits will affect business since community engagement breeds loyalty and trust. Engaging the community and fostering a healthy and consistent relationship with the public can strengthen stakeholder relations with key local entities and individuals, specifically local businesses and investors. Additionally, harnessing the power of consumer loyalty can pay back when you seek your target audience’s opinion when implementing organizational changes. As your brand grows a consumer base, sourcing your audience’s opinion will grow easier. This ensures that while your brand is changing in any regard, said changes are thoughtfully made, and the audience continues to provide feedback to improve and make edits to your brand. 

The benefits of community engagement are truly endless. This is just a small peek at the power, value, and insight that engaging your audience can bring. As trends change and society redefines consumer expectations, it is essential for PR professionals to stay updated and formulate new ways their brands can compete and keep up with new challenges. If not, prepare to be alienated by consumers and left behind to relish in the consequences that always come with ignoring your target audience.

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