Taft Communications always has viewed itself as a firm that helps companies amplify their products and services. The events around the country this year have showed the firm that such an approach no longer is enough: Clients need to express their sense of purpose, too.
President Ted Deutsch feels such a value proposition will be a key for all industries moving forward. It’s why Taft announced earlier this month its plans to reposition itself as a specialty consulting firm focused on helping companies and organizations articulate and fully maximize the impact of their core purpose.
“We live in a world where the private sector is increasingly expected to address challenges like climate change, improving health, fighting systemic racism and providing meaningful work for employees,” Deutsch said.
“Today, most businesses now acknowledge the need to go beyond shareholder value and demonstrate benefit for the greater good. Taft’s purpose is now explicitly to help clients in all sectors, including foundations and nonprofits, articulate and amplify their purpose.”
Deutsch said Taft is not alone, and that firms across the country also are looking to maximize purpose, impact and engagement.
Deutsch feels Taft has one big advantage, though: The firm has been doing this type of work for years — it just hasn’t specifically marketed itself that way, he said.
“Purpose-driven work has been part of our DNA for years,” he said. “For us, this move away from a sector-specific focus is a natural and timely culmination of the client counsel we have been providing for decades.”
Taft is just moving this part of its game to the forefront, Deutsch said.
“We’re more intentionally seeking out that work and making clear to organizations that this is our specialty and where we can add really great value,” he said.
Deutsch said Taft’s commitment and expertise in this sector has been previously demonstrated.
“We’ve long done communications in New Jersey for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies in the world,” he said. “We have long run the Rethink Energy campaign, which is a clean energy campaign in New Jersey. We’ve done diversity, equity and inclusion projects for a number of corporate clients.”
Deutsch said the shift has been in the works since January.
“I think the advent of COVID-19 and this current focus on racial justice only confirmed for us that we are heading in the right direction,” he said. “But this pivot came about from us taking a look at who we are and how we’re going to market back in the winter.”
Deutsch said Taft’s strategy will involve proprietary approaches to help clients develop their narrative, vision and purpose. The firm will do this while recruiting additional industry experts.
“As we add more people and as we grow our network of experts that we bring into projects, we will continue to recruit people with expertise in sustainability, corporate social responsibility and diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said.
And, while Deutsch said the plan was in the works before COVID-19, there is one feature of the pandemic that Taft had not planned for: the move to remote work.
The switch has resulted in new challenges for the firm — and new needs for clients. Not only do clients need to get their message out to the world, they need to deliver it internally, too, Deutsch said.
“So many of our clients have hundreds, if not thousands of employees,” he said. “A lot of our projects are focused on internal communications and how to communicate in a way that makes employees feel inspired to work for their employer and feel motivated by what they’re doing.”
In some ways, it can be the ultimate test of whether a brand’s purpose is resonating.
“Engaging employees very much ties into being a purpose-driven organization,” Deutsch said.
“So, how do you engage them from home? How do you inspire them, when you don’t get to look them in the eye and be face-to-face?”
That is the new challenge — the new purpose.