To Counter Rising Incivility, PR Campaigns Can Promote Kindness

Today in America, we face a crisis of incivility in society and in our public discourse.

According to a 2021 study by researchers at Portland State University in Oregon, workplace incivility is rising, too. Employees who experience or witness incivilities are more likely to be uncivil toward others, the study found. In the workplace, CEOs say, a culture of incivility threatens employee morale and productivity, corporate reputation and revenue.

How can communications professionals show leadership to help counter this epidemic of incivility? What if we reinvented our campaigns to both reduce incivility and spark authentic, contagious, heartfelt engagement from employees and customers? Since many of our communications campaigns (and how we measure their success) might cause people to feel more like numbers or objects, what do we have to lose?

Creative PR, media and internal communicators are qualified to create campaigns based on acts of kindness; communications that go deeper into the human heart. Such campaigns will lift eyebrows, turn heads and drop jaws.

You might start by pulling together a cross-departmental discovery session where you ask a few questions: What kind of campaign can we create together that would stimulate meaningful and contagious acts of kindness? Which acts of kindness would be a great fit for our corporate culture, our brand, our industry, our community? What would a successful campaign look like? Which communications assets can we use to make our kindness campaign a success?

Of course, a campaign built on inspiring kindness will look different for every company and industry. You might connect your campaign to a particular event, such as World Kindness Day on Nov. 13. But I will bet my reputation that the campaign will work if you pull in colleagues from HR, marketing, your creative agency and any others who come to mind.

Voices4EveryoneA creative campaign built on kindness can work beautifully to achieve a wide range of objectives, such as increasing product sales and reputation scores, boosting employee morale or recovering from a crisis. These campaigns can also be inexpensive, contagious and beneficial for both employees and external audiences.

By communicating a message of kindness, your organization will be seen as a solution and not a contributor to the crisis of incivility that’s tearing apart companies, families and society.

Give your boss the research. One study of 51,000 individuals in 3,600 business units, published by the American Psychological Association, showed that a culture of kindness had a significant positive impact on productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction and employee turnover, while also reducing costs.

Collectively we face a tinderbox moment, inside and outside the workplace. Nerves are frayed. Anger and incivility are rampant. It’s time to heal. If we’ve ever needed communication to start a wave of kindness, now is the time.


Brian Peterson is the founder of Greater Life Communications, supporting purpose-driven organizations as they confront  the root causes of human suffering. For more information, visit www.greaterlife.com, or reach Brian directly at brian@greaterlife.com. For more resources on civility, please visit PRSA’s Voices4Everyone initiative.

[Photo credit: blacksalmon]

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