Brands and Covid-19

At Public Good we think of purpose-driven brands in three categories: those who were born in purpose (like Patagonia or Ben and Jerry’s), those who have achieved purpose (like Microsoft), and those who have purpose thrust upon them. This last category typically applies to brands that hadn’t previously taken a strong position on social issues but where events make a neutral position untenable (like Dick’s Sporting Goods after Parkland.) The last category may also be said to apply to brands who have done admirable work on various issues, but find they need to shift to accommodate the response to an overwhelming new incident like Covid-19.

To adapt in a crisis, brands need to take positions, develop programs, and respond very quickly. This can feel scary and counter-intuitive (much like a stock trader buying when the market is panic selling), but it can also be a test of how deeply the brand has embraced purpose: if it’s truly in their bones and they have well-formulated positions and stances, they can sometimes respond quite seamlessly. In cases where the brand has not been as purpose oriented, a strong response requires substantial buy-in from the top executive level.

While often brands are hesitant to wade into a crisis, talking about anything without at least a nod to the current situation is likely to appear tone deaf. Direct response advertising can be particularly challenging, especially for products that can’t easily be gotten at home and under quarantine such as cars or travel. These are the reasons why some are projecting a greater than $60 billion pull back in advertising. And ironically, the pull back in spend will hurt media outlets that are getting out critical news about the virus, potentially prolonging the outbreak and its financial effects.

But it’s in these crises that true leadership and purpose can shine. Brands command massive resources and distribution channels. They can make a huge difference especially when political leadership is slower to respond. We’ve seen so many cases of this already with Covid-19, such as boutique distilleries pivoting to make hand sanitizer, giant automotive manufacturers retooling to make ventilators, and big tech companies releasing stockpiles of PPE they accumulated during the California wildfires.

We’ve also seen that there is a strong desire among all people to help. Across all Public Good’s Covid-19 related programs we’re seeing as much as 250% higher participation vs what are normally our higher performing programs (like sustainability and food security.) People are looking for rallying points and trusted media and brands can provide them.

We have seen this before at smaller scales: for example, we worked with several brands on hurricane relief during some of the worst hurricane seasons. While major brands don’t generally think of hurricane relief as their purpose, those who responded and engaged with customers to help leverage their efforts saw significant upticks in their brand favorability, effects we were still able to measure after more than a year. It turned out to be a great example of doing good and doing well.

The bottom line is this: Everyone is currently thinking about the pandemic. To not address it and continue business as usual is not only unlikely to be a profitable strategy, but could easily make a brand a target of ill will. But if the message of this moment can be incorporated into a brand’s story, ideally by empowering customers to work with the brand towards any measure of hope, that effort will also be seen very positively and remembered long after the crisis is over. This is a true time of purpose.

Coronavirus Action Alerts for Media

Public Good is committed to working with our media partners to empower people to take action on the most important issues in the news (for background information, see here.) Right now, the most important issue is the global COVID-19 Pandemic. It is top of mind for people around the world, yet the information and advice on how best to respond are changing on a daily, if not an hourly basis.

With this in mind, Public Good has created a COVID-19 Email Alert and Rapid Response Team.

The Rapid Response Team will be working with highly recognized experts including epidemiologists, mental health experts, and non-profit leaders. This team will be continuously updating and creating new sets of actions people can take.

Email Alerts will give you access to the latest updates and actions as soon as they are available. For example, we’ve already released preparedness actions on how to keep yourself safe and prevent infections. We’re following up soon with actions to support parents adjusting to school interruptions, first responders in the healthcare community, and vaccine research.

ALL COVID-19 ACTIONS ARE FREE TO USE for Media partners.

You can sign up for this new list here:

If you are a current Public Good media partner, just let us know (or reply to an alert) and we’ll get those actions activated on your site.

If you would like to become a Public Good media partner, please contact us at

Let’s work together to keep the community safe.


Do Well By Doing Good 2018

While Public Good is best known as the leader in connecting news with ways for people to take action, over the last year we’ve expanded our business into helping brands leverage their social impact initiatives by including their customers. Why? Because 89% of American consumers (and a growing number worldwide) now consider brands’ social impact to be key in buying decisions and brands are increasingly stepping in where government isn’t getting the job done.

Consider brands like Patagonia, Lyft, and Starbucks. They have differentiated themselves from their competitors not just through great products, but through incredible impact programs that help protect the environment, evacuate people from disaster areas, and so much more. In each case, impact has become part of the brand story and customers feel good with each purchase they make.

But how do these brands succeed where so many have failed? How did Facebook go from digital connector to alleged political conspirator? And how are brands dealing with new realities like #MeToo, #MarchForOurLives, #DeleteUber, and more?

Public Good is in a unique position to analyze these trends. Our news partnerships have allowed us to develop one of the world’s largest repository of nonprofits and the actions that people take to support them. And through our emerging leadership as a platform for brands’ social good initiatives, we’ve participated in or advised on many of the most successful impact programs. We were also able to take advantage of research by thought leaders like Edelman and Porter Novelli. The result is Do Well By Doing Good 2018, our groundbreaking white paper on brands and social impact that’s also a kickstart guide for brands looking to develop social impact initiatives or take their existing ones to the next level. It’s designed for executives in marketing, communications, and human resources as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and for companies ranging from tech startups to the Fortune 500.

Download Do Well By Doing Good 2018 >>>

This is a hot topic and even since we completed this version of the guide we’ve seen breaking news we wanted to include. If you enjoy the guide, stay tuned to this blog for updates. We believe a new era of brands making a difference is dawning, and we’re excited to see what can happen when their resources are brought to bear on the issues of the day.

Please contact us for print copies or with feedback or questions.