PR Word of the Week #12: The Double Bottom Line

This week it is time to learn a common term bounced around in communications and public relations, the double bottom line.

We have all heard of the bottom line: the dough, the moola, the raison-d’être of a business, the time equals money, or in other words the profit of a company.

Everything we do as communicators is supposed to increase the bottom line. If we are pitching a story it is to help increase a company’s image so their consumers will buy their product or use their service and thus make the company more money. But nowadays, it is all too common for companies to look beyond the bottom line and work towards a double bottom line: the social impact.

Double Bottom Line

(ˈdəbəl ˈbätəm līn)
noun
While all businesses have a conventional bottom line to measure their fiscal performance—financial profit or loss—enterprises which seek a second bottom line look to measure their performance in terms of positive social impact. The double bottom line approach can be applied to both public and private sector organizations.

Example

The double bottom line has sparked what we call cause marketing strategies. Companies use this method of communications to seperate themselves from their competition by showing their consumers what they are doing to make the world a better place, by donating to local food banks or raising money for a local women’s shelters, etc.

Why and what are the benefits

Even if you are a small business just starting out, you should start early thinking about how you will address your double bottom line.

Benefits of having the double bottom line:

  • Consumers are more likely to relate with you if they feel they share common values with your company – thus contributing to your bottom line
  • You can create a relationship with these consumers, which can lead to exclusivity among your consumers, where your customers only go to you and no one else – again, leading to increasing your bottom line
  • When a consumer relates with a company with similar values, they tend to share that love with others, which leads to new and more consumers – and once again, leading to increasing your bottom line

As communicators, if our goal is to increase a company’s bottom line, then we should always be thinking about how we can incorporate the double bottom line in to our strategies.

Stay tuned next week when I dive deeper in to the bottom lines and talk about the Triple Bottom Line.

Do you or your company have a bottom line or double bottom line? If so, what do they do? Leave a comment and share your experiences with the double bottom line. Do you believe it truly helps? Or is it extra work for little return?

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