I’m Libbie Hough and I own Comma, a marketing communications company in Hillsborough, NC. You may wonder why a marketing professional is speaking about corporate social responsibility. The reader’s digest version is that I was raised to be a helping professional and ultimately got a Masters of Social Work. I worked in the field for a few years before taking time off from paid employment to be a stay-at-home mom. In between changing diapers, shaping playdoh and avoiding Chuck E Cheese, I decided to use my communication skills in a different way – public relations and marketing. Over the last decade, I have built my business while I’ve raised children. Always in the back of my head though was this question about how to blend my passion for service to the community with my business. When I started hearing about corporate social responsibility, it all made sense. Today, I’ll share my ideas about how CSR can boost your PR.
CSR is referred to in many different ways. Triple bottom lineCorporate responsibilitySocial responsibility Doing well by doing goodCorporate citizenshipNo matter the name, the strategies involved make it easier for business to have a hand in making our communities stronger and healthier places to be.This video clip does a great job of defining what CSR is. SHOW CLIP
It’s easy for me to get excited about CSR b/c the interconnectedness of it all appeals the way my brain works...we’re all in this together.It’s important to realize, however, that CSR is – READ SLIDE.There are other tools – budgeting, strategic planning, research and development, HR,marketing – that organizations use to grow. So how is CSR different from these other tools and how can it fit in with the other tools you already use. But is it valued in the market place?
Landor is a branding company, psb research a market research firm, and buronmarstellar a marketing communications firm. This info was on corporate-eye.com blog.
We heard in the video that corporate social responsibility has the potential to create tremendous positive impact for your profit while simultaneously doing well bythe environment, and youremployees. Michael Porter from Harvard Business School calls it shared value and in that way I see it very different from other business strategies or tools. As a business owner, seeing the rise of CSR gives me a greater sense of purpose. As a recovering social worker, CSR gives me greater sense of hope that we can tackle social problems b/c we’ll have the business sector’s support. I see it not only as shared value, but shared responsibility. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many of you– whether you call it CSR or not – are involved with efforts but may be thinking of them in isolation. Examples could be:Cutting energy usage to save on utility billsincreasing employee satisfaction to save yourself the headache of turnover Improving business operations to have more repeat customersAdding a CSR as an overlay gives you an opportunity to connect those dots across “departments” and with your audiences or stakeholders.
Just as your business plan is unique to your organization, so would your CSR plan be tailored to address your specific business goals and needs. The best plans come from the information you gather about your business through an assessment process. Locally, we have two established assessment tools available: Green Plus and Bcorp. With either assessment process you would learn where you are strong and where you are weak as it relates to one of these areas. With both of these tools you establish benchmarks and goals.I found the Green Plus assessment process helpful in two ways: 1) it provided me with data I could act upon in improving my business and 2) it gave me a goal of certification. I needed the structure and the reward. I’m in the process of going through certification through Bcorp and will go through the recertification process with Green Plus this winter.
Based on baseline data created through an assessment process, your CSR plan could look something like this. Change the order, place the priority you’d like as long as you have goals and tactics in each area. I actually like to think of it as: Customers, Community, Culture. As long as the plan is aligned with your other business strategies, makes sense for your industry. Otherwise it’s wasted effort, time and money.
READ SLIDE.Your brand is what you are known for – it may be a combination of personalized or customer service, expertise, superior products, or a fantastic work environment. It could also be your service to the community, your support of local sports teams, or your charitable giving. Your brand is your reputation and it is constantly evolving as your business grows. PR is a marketing strategy for getting the word out about your brand(So how does your logo, color scheme and name fit in? Those are the important visual tools you to help you communicate your brand)
And with any other tool you need to figure out how to leverage those efforts to create a stronger brand presence
With CSR as an overlay – or better yet a core business strategy – you can begin to align your PR efforts with your CSR efforts.
Give them the information and tools they need to be brand ambassadors
You are interested in getting CSR in your toolboxEducate yourself about CSR and what it could mean for your business. resources online. Chamber. Green Plus. Bcorp. US Green Chamber of CommerceHave conversations with your employees, co-workers to see what is already happening in your business and to see if there is interest in moving forward. Consider bringing in an outside resource to help you launch your efforts.
CSR is one instrument availableto a company to help it realizehigher profits.CSR must align with your corebusiness strategy.
Is CSR Valued?More than 88% of consumers think companies should try to achievetheir business goals while improving society and the environment.www.DoWellDoGood.netMany consumers don’t understand what “corporate socialresponsibility” is [but] would be willing to pay more for products froma socially responsible company — as much as $10 more.www.landor.com www.psbresearch.comwww.burson-marsteller.com50% of 18-34 years olds surveyed in this study claimed that theywould be willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsiblecompany.www.landor.comwww.psbresearch.comwww.burson-marsteller.com
How is CSR differentfrom other tools? It creates shared value
Your CSR plan will be:Unique to your business.Your CSR plan will include a focus on: Profit, People,& Planet.Your CSR plan can help you:Strengthen your brand.
A Sample Post-Assessment* PlanPeople• Increase the diversity of our workforce to include more females service managers so thatour company demographics reflect the demographics of our community• Set up walking staff meetings for each department so we incorporate physical activity intoour workplace• Increase professional development opportunities by 3% a year for the next three yearsPlanet• Increase our recycling efforts to include batteries (or another heavily used item)• Implement a purchasing policy outlining energy star guidelines as we replace oldequipment• Decrease utility costs by 5% over the next 24 monthsProfit• Improve our customer satisfaction ratings by 10%• Set budgets in November of each year for next year. Review progress monthly.• Create sales goals for each business development employee and review quarterly.Assessments available through Green Plus (www.gogreenplus.org) and BCorp(www.bcorporation.net)
Making the ConnectionBrand: What you are known forPR: How to spread the word
Making the ConnectionBrand: What you are known forPR: How to spread the wordMake CSR part of your brand story
PR Activities to EngageCustomersBe visible and TALK about your efforts• Sponsorships and event attendance• Community service• Ad placement in targeted publications• Press releases• Create a CSR report or update that you can post on your website, share with yourcustomers• Create opportunities to ask your customers what they think about your efforts and how youcan improve them• Social media
PR Activities to EngageYour Employees• Create mechanisms for sharing ideas around solving companychallenges• Involve employees in selecting the charity the company willsupport• Recognize your staff for doing what is valued by the company• Let people know how they fit in to the big picture
How to Explore AddingCSR to Your Toolbox•Educate yourself• Gauge interest around the office• Bring in an outside resource to talk about what would beinvolved
Not Ready? Take babystepsTry one thing in each area, for example:ProfitUpdate or write that business planHint: Get a SCORE mentor to help hold you accountable to the changes you’dlike to makePlanetCheck out your trash and your recycling bins – could you do more?PeopleAsk your employees if they have suggestions about how to make the companybetter
Resources•Just Good Business, Kellie A. McElhaney•Marketing That Matters, Chip Conley•Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Jim Collins