A focus on men makes this year's Cause Survey stand out

Full disclosure: I love cause marketing. Like most people, I've had that crisis of conscience and wondered, "What am I doing with my life? Shouldn't I have a job that actually does good for the world?"

Full disclosure: I love cause marketing. Like most people, I've had that crisis of conscience and wondered, "What am I doing with my life? Shouldn't I have a job that actually does good for the world?" That usually lasts for a week, then I get my bills and snap back to reality. So, it's no surprise that of all the surveys I oversee during the year, the Cause Survey is the one with which I identify most.

Part of that is because of the investment that Barkley PR puts in as a sponsor - and I don't mean from a financial perspective, though that is significant. This survey is a main marketing and new business tool for the firm and, as such, its leadership takes it very seriously, putting significant thought and attention into it every year.

Considering this is the sixth time Barkley has partnered with PRWeek for this survey, there is the danger of the topic becoming stale. So, each year I meet with the firm to discuss our approach for that year. In the four years I have overseen the survey, those meetings have spawned some great ideas. In 2007, we introduced a cause roundtable, which we repeated in 2008. That same year, we took a look at how the economic downturn was affecting cause marketing and giving (the good news: it wasn't affected that much). Last year, we decided to take a deep dive into some of the most successful cause programs - such as Tide's "Loads of Hope" and General Mills' "Box Tops for Education" - and found that consistent dedication to a cause is what makes a program stand out.

But this year's survey really excites me. When I met with Barkley in May, we knew this survey had to stand out - and it does. To my knowledge, this is the only survey in the marketplace that exclusively focuses on men's attitudes toward cause marketing.

Marketers have notoriously always targeted women in their efforts because they are the ones who make the purchasing decisions in a household and are thought to be the ones most interested in companies that give back. But guess what? Men are just as interested in cause marketing - and now we have the numbers to back it up. One of the most heartwarming things for me to read was the verbatim answers to the question, "Which brands are not currently doing cause-related campaigns, but should be?" A number of the men replied "All of them." Now that's something that makes me feel good about my job.

Erica Iacono is the executive editor of PRWeek. She can be contacted at erica.iacono@prweek.com.

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