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[THE FOLLOWING POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON THE SUSTAINABLE BRANDS BLOG, MARCH 8, 2017]

When a U.S. President can impact stock valuation and sway public dialogue in just 140 characters, what’s a brand

[THE FOLLOWING POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON THE SUSTAINABLE BRANDS BLOG, JANUARY 27, 2017

The question is no longer if an organization will engage with society, it’s how. Yet, from Brexit to Trump

CAROL CONE

LEADING EXPERT ON PURPOSE BRANDING, CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP, SUSTAINABILITY AND CSR

Carol Cone was always driven straight into the future by a purpose, a passionate dedication for achieving both commercial and

The past 12 months have been particularly rife with agonizing social issues, amplified by media channels that make us eyewitnesses to social storms near and far. Outside our country we’ve seen unrest in Syria, refugees around the world searching for a better life, ongoing instability in Venezuela. Within our borders, we’ve had election warfare that spared no constituent group, numerous unarmed black citizens killed by police officers, seemingly incessant gun violence, and much more.

Like few times in our history, we are navigating a moment of profound cultural, political and economic transformation.

On one hand, we’ve seen nearly every nation on the planet come together behind new Sustainable

The Future of VR Broadcasting Looks A Lot Like the Past

Have you ever thought about who decides what shows get on TV? I often wonder which TV programming execs greenlit Big Bang Theory,

September 20, 2016

Companies that have a defined purpose – standing for and taking action around something bigger than their products and services – are growing, prospering, attracting the best talent, and staying competitive in a challenging economy. Their purpose initiatives are the inspiration for their employees to rally, the reason their customers want to engage in business and their lens for making strategic decisions.

Amidst the decrepit facades and shot-out windows of one of the largest conglomerations of public housing in North America stands a century-old building, notable not for its well-kept exterior – there are in fact wires and scaffolding surrounding it – but for its spots of vibrant green in a sea of dreary brown. The building, originally a school for the children of the white middle class, is now home to CS 55, a District 7 New York City public school in the South Bronx. Given its location in the worst district in the city, the school’s flourishing gardens and innovative National Health, Wellness, and Learning Center are surprising features to say the least.

One of the most vexing challenges in the sustainability movement is how to get people to do the right thing. Research by organizations such as GlobeScan suggest that the majority of consumers care about sustainability and want to do the right thing, yet the gap between desire and daily behavior remains a major obstacle to progress.

When I was younger I was in the hospital for 3 months and saw the impact Child Life, and other organizations, can have on children, which is why I loved the work of Move this World. Move this World helps kids manage daily stresses to create healthy, resilient groups where everyone is empowered to thrive. The desire to get involved with The Robin Hood Foundation came when I started an organization called Waste Free Wednesdays at Notre Dame that reduced the 1.5 tons of food wasted everyday at Notre Dame. Also, WFW connected students with the local food bank to volunteer and donate.

Why let Silicon Valley keep all the failure? Playing off of the recent trend in tech to celebrate failures as part of innovation, this discussion brings together a diverse set of brands with the intention to confess and celebrate failures on the way to building successful sustainability teams and engaging in purpose-driven innovation. The session is also intended to illustrate what systemic problems in the corporate sustainability space still need solutions.

When a new restaurant called Everytable opens on Saturday in the poverty-stricken area of Los Angeles known as South L.A., a grab-and-go Jamaican jerk chicken bowl with coconut rice, beans, plantains and carrots will be the most expensive meal on the menu at $4.50.

The philanthropic landscape is changing thanks in a large part to millennials, a group of aspirationals expected to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020 and 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Contrary to their baby boomer predecessors, millennials look beyond the annual tax-deductible donation in favor of opportunities to give year-round. Millennials actively participate in giving, rely on technology and online platforms when donating and expect to see the direct impact of their contribution. This “generous generation” considers social responsibility to be a part of their every-day lives and is redefining purpose in the process.

As a purpose practitioner for 20+ years, I was delighted to see the bounty of Cannes awards won by REI’s #OptOutside. While there is controversy about which agencies won in which categories, the true winner was the honesty of the initiative and its power to build REI’s brand far beyond any single advertising, public relations or social media campaign. With authenticity at its core, taking a bold approach — closing its stores on Black Friday to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors — the company ignited a true cultural movement.

“Who is Gen Z, what drives them and what do they like?” are current questions

leaders in marketing are longing to answer.

Gen Z, also known as iGen, is the post-millennial generation, born from 19956 to

200910, and they comprise 25.9% of the U.S population (IBTimes). Gen Z is estimated

to have a combined buying power of $43 billion and influence an additional $600 billion

of family spending (Chamber of Commerce). Not only is Gen Z going to be 40% of all

consumers by 2020 (CMO), but they are also said to be more persistent, self- reliant,

realist, and innovative than the generation before them.

Is “Purpose” just another buzzword for our workplace? Is it doomed to be a word like “Sustainability”, “CSR” or “Cause Marketing,” that has been used so often and in such broad context that its meaning has become nebulous? It may be. Or, it could be the word that describes a seismic shift in the way we all view work.

You may remember that last September, Target announced that our corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy was evolving to focus on wellness. We know wellness is a personal journey, and it’s about the choices people make every day. They’re seeking progress over perfection, inspiration from new ideas, and accessible, affordable and inspirational product choices that help them and their families lead healthy lives. To meet people where they are on this journey, we kicked off a holistic, integrated approach—making wellness a signature business category, at the center of our CSR efforts, and a continued priority for investing in our team. By making it easier for our team members, guests and communities to be active, eat healthy and choose products made with materials and ingredients they can trust, we believe we can do our part to make a real difference.

Pick up any quote book or Google ‘inspirational memes’ and “Don’t be afraid to Fail” will most likely pop up in the first few pages. The idea of failure as the key to success is not a new one and yet the discussion around failure and real-life examples, particularly in the world of sustainability, is lacking. During the recent Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego Conference, I moderated a panel on the idea of failure, sharing candid lessons and insights from industry leaders at JetBlue Airways, The Nature Conservancy, Nestlé Waters, Keurig Green Mountain and the National Hockey League. Despite the diverse backgrounds and experiences, the panelists shared 3 major themes: culture, communication, and connection. How do we learn from their experiences? Check out the key lessons from “Failure as a Path to Building Successful Sustainability Strategies and Purpose-Driven Innovation”:

Last April my family checked a big destination off our bucket list: the Grand Canyon. Looking out over its colorful, steep slopes we were hushed into silence. I was the first to speak: “No Starbucks as far as the eye can see.”

An elbow poked my ribs. My wife had responded. It might as well have been the whole world. No one wants a corporate logo to despoil the Grand Canyon – or any other national park.

It’s an exciting time for brands and retailers to be embracing social responsibility. Great products are emerging at retail every day that engage consumers in a shared mission to solve social problems. This fundamental shift toward cause brands and brand citizenship opens up new opportunities for the licensing community to work with nonprofits as charity partners that can bring social value to licensing and retail strategies which resonate with consumers.

America’s 200 million credit cardholders are better at accruing rewards than spending them. Last year, we failed to redeem about $16 billion worth of loyalty points, one survey showed. Apparently, what motivates us to get cards in the first place isn’t the extras on offer. It’s the simple convenience of having plastic when we need it.

About the Author: Laura Ferry is the founder of Good Company, a brand citizenship consultancy, widely recognized for establishing socially responsible joint ventures for national brands, media and nonprofits. Good Company is a member of The Purpose Collaborative, a growing collective of the foremost cause-focused agencies and consultants created by one of the world’s pioneers in the business with purpose space, Carol Cone.

Shareholder value may be the most important operating principle in the modern world; the north star for most people’s life’s work. Whether or not we consciously ‘work for the shareholders’ each

Liqui-Site’s Work on Killing Season Chicago Website Recognized by International Academy

(Nyack, NY) April 6, 2016 – Liqui-Site announced today that it has been nominated for a Webby Award in recognition

A few months back, I led a panel at the annual  Points of Light  conference in Houston, TX, where we discussed some very important topics along with one very small word: “and.” As in, how to bring

Until a few years ago, I felt that any time or money spent on mission statements and corporate values was a monumental waste, except for the consultants getting paid to “help” you figure that stuff

As social entrepreneurs, we’re obsessed with measuring impact. Sometimes we’re able to measure what matters—often we can get stuck measuring only what we can easily count, even if we’re limited to outputs that may or

SAN FRANCISCO, March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Annie Longsworth, founder of The Siren Agency, was named CSR Professional of the Year at the PR News CSR Awards lunch in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The award recognizes her role as

We are living in the Age of Purpose — purpose as a collective value of growing cultural importance in many societies, purpose as an emerging leading force in personal and career development, and purpose

A momentous initiative for sustainability began at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a few weeks back.

As GreenBiz detailed in the article “Unilever, Nestle, USDA, Rockefeller unite to cut food waste,” 30 leaders from business, government and foundations gathered to form

When I was a toddler, I had a sippy cup on which was printed graphic of a bear drinking from a cup. And printed on the bear’s cup was a tiny

How companies and brands can embrace social issues to create impactful change.

In 2004, Unilever launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty.” The goal was to widen the definition of beauty beyond the largely unattainable one

Recently, after being briefed on the company’s internal communications strategy and plan for the year – the CEO of a global organization posed a compelling question: “Fast forward to December, tell me why all

Purpose as a powerful strategy to conduct business from the inside out has gained substantial ground in 2015 and will only have more impact in 2016. Here is what we see, with contributions from

With a new year comes new trends and predictions for digital marketing.

In the past, marketers told consumers what they were supposed to want, but a shift has developed in the past

Move over, 4Ps — there’s a new strategy in town: 

Business leaders have traditionally considered classic marketing strategies (with a relatively recently added new media edge) the main way to generate a sustainable competitive

Virtual Reality (VR) is not a new concept – there have been plenty of attempts to bring this technology to the mainstream through video games, the film industry and even amusement park rides, 

I have always thrived when I know my “why”. Through athletics, personal relationships, and now into my professional life, purpose is something I have pursued aggressively.  This mindset aligns very closely to a large

The name was chosen to have a dual meaning. First, that I would continue the purpose journey I began in 1983, guiding companies and brands to embrace society as core to their operating and growth strategy.

Thirty summers ago, fresh out of cap-and-gown and eager to save the world, I accepted a job in the Pittsburgh office of the public relations giant Burson-Marsteller.

The primary account I worked on was

Why do you do your job? Are you there for a purpose, like improving the world, or really just in it for the money?

A new report puts numbers to the motives driving our

We marketers can be obsessed with generational trends. How many meetings have you had lately on what Millennials think of your brand? Or what Generation Z means for your digital strategy?

And yet, while

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Oct 13, 2015) – The organizers of the second edition of the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum (SIGEF), Horyou, the social network for social good, and the Horyou

October 27, 2015

In July, Carol served as moderator for Enso’s fourth annual BIG TABLE dinner, at which leaders from In July, Carol served as moderator for Enso’s fourth annual BIG TABLE dinner, at which leaders from In July, Carol served as moderator for Enso’s fourth annual BIG TABLE dinner, at which leaders from In July,

1/ We live in a world of unprecedented change

Our globally connected world is changing 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale of the industrial revolution.

It is a world that is

Artificial intelligence can only go so far. The future of technology will lie in the interplay of software and capable humans.

At  a recent conference in Malmö, Sweden , in front of a keynote-sized audience, two speakers presented a strange

Like never before, brands are navigating an era of constant change. From data breaches and market volatility to information overload and lightspeed digital evolution, uncertainty abounds.

Why shared purpose is a must to restore trust, build loyalty and succeed with today’s consumers

Several years ago I wrote about the “5th P”: the Purpose that companies needed to embed within their

The collaborative economy is hot. Uber is valued at $3.3 billion. Airbnb is worth $10 billion. Forbes claims that total revenues of collaborative economy sector exceeded $3.5 billion in 2013, with growth going upward of whooping 25 per cent.

The way hospitality brands approach travel influencers is broken.

Take a quick scroll through Instagram and you’re likely to see a highly paid, stylish person or photographer hawking something from a brand with little to no disclosure.

June 30, 2015, Oakland, CA—Bulldog Reporter is excited to announce the winners of the first 2015 awards program. The Bulldog Corporate Social Responsibility PR Awards were launched in 2014 as part of the

Like millions around the globe, I too was deeply touched by the passing of Nelson Mandela. As South Africa President Zuma stated in his powerful eulogy, “Whilst your long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense, our own journey continues.

2013 marks the 10th anniversaries of not one, but three, corporate signature programs that I co-created with my partner-in-Purpose, Kristian Merenda. I am proud to see these programs grow into full-fledged movements that have created meaningful and transformative change, affecting not only those the programs seek to help, but employees and the general public as well.

In 2015 the country instituted the world’s first mandated CSR law, requiring all companies doing business there, with at least $830,000 profits, to allocate 2% of three years average net profits against key social and environmental programs.

Research continues to show the that consumers value authenticity. In a recent survey by BBMG and Globescan, they identified a new consumer, the Aspirationals.

In celebration of the ten-year anniversaries of three major corporate citizenship campaigns, here are ten qualities that a built-to-last sustainable citizenship program must have:

1. Brand Focus: Deeply understand your organization, including goals, assets and challenges.

Marketers are now operating in a “new normal”. Transparency and authenticity are the modus operandi by which stakeholders and the public- at-large scrutinize companies. Sustaining corporate character and Trust is the new imperative.

Meeting the Dalai Lama and having him hold my hand for five minutes, was a career highlight. So I wanted to share this very special post I wrote about that experience. Enjoy. Recently I “spent” two days with the Dalai Lama at the EngageNow conference in Calgary, Alberta. Hosted by the University of Calgary, the focus of the event was to inspire and create active participation in local communities throughout that city.



While I looked forward to Cannes, my vision was an over-the-top glam week of parties, parties and more parties ending with awards, the global advertising businesses gushing self congratulations – think unrelenting double-cheek kissing (its France naturally), fist pumping in the air Gold Lion in hand, and all night carousing.

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