Is Your Brand Prepared for Consumer Activism?

Published on 4th November 2018

Crowd of activists holding sign that says "no!"

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Brands are facing record levels of consumer activism. In fact, the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found one in five Americans have been involved in some form of activism within the last year – and many indicate plans to become even more active.

DEVENEY stresses that preparing your brand for the recent wave of activism is essential to successfully navigate this new landscape. In a post about consumer activism, they outline how to proactively prepare for consumer activism and effectively respond when it happens.

How to Proactively Address Consumer Activism

First Steps:

  • Identify potential issues that may gain activists’ attention
  • Assemble a crisis management team. Create a team that has know-how or previous experience with activism
  • Designate a credible spokesperson and train them, running tests to evaluate your communication plans

Engage in Thorough Research:

  • Develop plans for media relations, community relations and risk communications
  • Select staff members to respond who have relevant crisis management experience
  • Outline a written and verbal complaints process
  • Engage in a Corporate Social Responsibility program or hold community events. Don’t isolate your brand – reach out to the community if there’s concern they may have negative perceptions
  • Identify the views of activist groups that may be threatening
  • Stay on top of public perceptions of the organization and relevant issues surrounding your brand
  • Keep track of breaking news and trending highlights to stay aware of community happenings that may affect your brand

Things to Avoid:

  • Avoid taking a defensive position – play the offense. You may not always have the ability to plan for consumer activism, but following these proactive measures will better prepare your brand
  • Don’t expect the public, or even your employees, to be on your side
  • Don’t forego consulting your crisis management team or legal counsel before releasing messaging on the topic. This will help prevent unwanted negative attention

How to Respond to Consumer Activism (Crisis Management)

While your brand should aim to take a proactive approach to consumer activism, sometimes a reactive position is inevitable. Brands may need to plan for a crisis management strategy in response to these activities. Learn the Crisis Management Best Practices on the DEVENEY blog, or find additional brand insights from Worldcom.


DEVENEY is an internationally renowned engagement agency known for creating and implementing award-winning, strategic marketing solutions. Driven by results, DEVENEY uses research to create campaigns that open the dialogue between brands and their key stakeholders. The agency specializes in three practice areas – LifeCARE (health care, insurance), LifeSTYLE (travel + tourism, hospitality, destination, food + beverage, attractions, etc.) and CRISIS/Reputation Management – and delivers results through advertising, public relations and digital marketing.

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