In 2018, consumers value more than just the quality of a product or service when choosing between brands. Many are now more focused on the environmental or societal issues companies get involved with to reduce harmful impacts on the planet or give back to the community. This is what’s known as corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Corporate social responsibility and Public Relations go hand-in-hand, as CSR is a core component of creating a positive perception of a company among the public and PR’s job is to maintain that positive reputation. At the end of the day, a consumer will be looking at a brand’s reputation when deciding whether to buy a product from one company or its competitor. PR helps to successfully inform and share a business’ strategic CSR efforts with the rest of the world, influencing those decisions.
Here are three steps to generate and share your next CSR program:
- Define your company’s corporate social responsibility
This begins with establishing who you are as a company from an ethical standpoint. Do you want to be known as the company going above and beyond to give back to the community or do you want to be seen doing the bare minimum to avoid legal issues? Read your company’s mission statement and be sure it aligns with who you are – or who you want to be – as an organization. From here, you’ll be able to pinpoint which aspects of social responsibility your company wants to work on.
- Research and planning
With every great PR strategy comes research and planning. You want to make sure that your CSR initiative is reaching the right audiences and that you avoid looking like a phony when implementing these projects. It’s easy to be called out for “greenwashing,” meaning your CSR was only established topromote the perception that your business is environmentally friendly. Do your due diligence to ensure the initiatives you take on actually create positive impact rather than just a photo opp. Then, be sure your plan includes strategies for sharing the great work you do in an authentic way as well as a crisis strategy in case controversy arises.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
You’ve formed a CSR initiative and prepared your communications strategy, so now what? It’s time to put your plan into action and share your initiative with the community. As you begin telling your story, remember to stay true to the issues that drive your corporate social responsibility and the impact you want to make. Landing a story in a newspaper will not be the sole way the world grows familiar with your CSR efforts. To build that positive and ethical character and take your place among the ranks of socially responsible companies, it’s important to follow through with your CSR plans and lead by action.
These three basic steps will help you get your CSR program off the ground and to the community when combined with your public relations plan. Timing is everything and PR, when done correctly, goes hand-in-hand with vocalizing these CSR ideas.