CSR is not just nice words
Ecology, nature, solidarity, healthy habits, sustainable mobility, the elderly and vulnerable groups… Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is covering more and more areas, to the point of becoming one of the PR trends to be taken into account this year. However, how can this type of initiative be properly communicated without falling into opportunism or greenwashing?
Why do CSR?
If the pandemic demonstrated anything, it is that in times of crisis, consumers expect companies to act responsibly. Although the coronavirus prompted many initiatives, the commitment to CSR came before. Spain has more than 2,000 companies adhering to one of the main CSR certifications, which invest around 1.5 billion euros each year in these actions, according to the SERES Foundation and Deloitte.
CSR brings numerous benefits to companies, such as improved brand image and customer and employee loyalty. From the point of view of communication, CSR is also convenient, as it provides the company with the possibility of addressing its audiences with positive messages that are not specifically commercial, so that they do not generate rejection. However, it is necessary to manage the communication of these actions well so as not to fall into the most common mistakes.
How to communicate a CSR campaign
At Canela we have been managing the communication of our clients’ CSR actions for more than 15 years, as well as collaborating with several NGOs and solidarity projects. We also have our own corporate initiatives, which have enabled us to obtain the B Corp recognition, which distinguishes companies that stand out for their sustainability and inclusiveness.
Based on this experience, we have compiled 7 tips for communicating a CSR campaign.
Choose your own causes
The first step should be to analyse your company’s mission, vision and values. Next, think about how you can link them to CSR in its three dimensions (social, economic and environmental) and choose specific initiatives or projects to do so. It is advisable that they are related to your sector, as this will allow the actions to better connect with your audiences and provide the value of your company’s expertise and knowledge.
Seek allies for action
Today, there are numerous CSR platforms specialised in facilitating the development of these policies by companies. For example, reforestation projects managed by organisations such as Tree-Nation. If you do not have experience in these areas, collaborating with these providers is the best way to access the necessary resources to carry them out. They will also provide you with communication support.
Involve your team and community
Employee involvement through corporate volunteering helps to boost CSR initiatives and demonstrate that your company’s commitment goes beyond nice words and promises. Likewise, many of your customers, suppliers, business partners, etc. are likely to be happy to collaborate in your CSR initiatives. Think about how to involve them in your actions to increase impact and repercussion.
Leading by example
There is a fine line between promoting a “green image” and greenwashing. Therefore, CSR should be reflected not only in what your company says, but also in what you do on a day-to-day basis. Especially avoid opportunism and newsjacking. Although taking advantage of current events is the key to many strategies to achieve a greater echo, in this case it results in a fragmented and not very credible CSR communication.
Use all channels
Make sure to publicise your CSR actions both internally (company magazine, newsletters, intranet, etc.) and externally (website, press releases, branded content, events, social media, newsletters, etc.). In addition, influencer marketing can be an excellent way to increase the reach of your CSR initiatives, with the help of credible influencers and an audience that is sensitive to these initiatives.
Communicate all year round
Did you know that throughout the year there are more than 900 days dedicated to all kinds of social, environmental and solidarity causes? Incorporate CSR into your communication plan to take advantage of opportunities related to your field. CSR generates human interest stories, which allow you to reach the mainstream media, especially at this time of year. It is just a matter of adapting them for each type of media, as we did with Sonrisas de Bombay.
Facts, not promises
Measure and quantify the results of your CSR actions so that you can communicate facts and figures, not just good intentions. Producing an annual CSR report helps to convey the impact of your actions and support your communications. Finally, keep in mind that corporate social responsibility does not increase sales or improve your image in the short term. However, it is essential to build a strong and reliable brand image.
What CSR action has caught your attention lately? Comment on our social networks!