Internet Week Panel: Cause-Marketing in Social

It’s Internet Week in New York!  Kaplow’s Digital team has been making its way around to all the unique sessions, and on Monday I was able to listen in on a panel discussion between two industry innovators: Huffington Post Media Group Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington and Johnson & Johnson VP of Corporate Affairs Brian Perkins.

The presentation focused on cause-marketing in the social space.  As Brian Perkins pointed out, in today’s market, “Good brands with good products aren’t enough anymore.  Consumers want to feel the soul of your brand.”

Huffington and Perkins should know – both of their companies have rolled out major cause-related marketing initiatives and successfully promoted them through social media methods.  Huffington Post now has a whole Impact section that features philanthropic news, and Johnson & Johnson launched the Text BABY program for pregnant women in need of information and help.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a sure-fire way to show consumers the human side of your company.  Consumers are interested in causes, and therefore as companies looking to engage consumers, they need to be, too.  However, it’s important to be both STRATEGIC in choosing a cause, and HONEST in the desire to help.

Here are a few words of wisdom I gleaned from Brian and Arianna’s panel talk:


  • Take a step back and define your cause strategy.  It needs to match your brand’s essence.  Don’t just invest willy nilly.  Establish pillars and guidelines, and invest wisely. – Brian Perkins
  • Find your point of difference and what matters to you, and pick a cause that fits with your brand DNA. – Arianna Huffington


  • At the local level, there is less risk.  Local partners know the situation better and you can test programs and learn. – Brian Perkins
  • Charities at the local level make people feel empowered.  They can see the impact directly. If they see measurable results, they’ll be motivated to take part.  – Arianna Huffington


  • The digital space allows corporations to better implement programs to help.  Employees can be great blogging ambassadors.  They understand the cause and can blog on behalf of your company. – Brian Perkins
  • Media companies have a huge role in promoting causes.  They have an engaged community – ¼ of Huffington Post readers will share a story with their friends. – Arianna Huffington
  • Public/Corporate partnerships are also becoming popular.  You have to learn to play nicely with others in the sandbox to make it work. – Brian Perkins
  • You must be rigid with your metrics and analyze your contributions as much as your normal business. – Brian Perkins

I’ll leave you with our favorite social media tip and quote from the talk:

“If you want to be social and engage in this new game, you can’t just hide behind a glossy ad.  You have to engage in a real conversation with the consumer and hear their feedback.  You can’t play the new game with old tools.” – Arianna Huffington

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