CSR, SMEs and Social Media: A Report from the Front Lines


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CSIC research fellow Tracey Wright interviews 12 DC-area small businesses to explore how they use social media to communicate their socially responsible business practices to their stakeholders.

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CSR, SMEs and Social Media: A Report from the Front Lines

  1. 1. CSR, SMEs and Social Media A Report from the Front Lines  Tracey Wright, Research FellowCenter for Social Impact CommunicationGeorgetown UniversityApril 2012
  2. 2. COMMUNICATING CSR IN SMEsWhile much has been debated and written about corporate social responsibility (CSR) amonglarge companies, the question of how and why small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engage insocially responsible practices is not well documented. Looking for trends in motivation andimplementation, CSIC fellow Tracey Wright spoke directly with local business leaders in theGreater DC region (including suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia).Her primary research also delves into how SMEs communicate their CSR efforts. Are theytelling their own stories? What channels are they using and how well are the messagesreaching targeted audiences? Can social media provide a low-cost breakthroughcommunications tool to help SMEs tell their story? The interview responses show that whilesmall business leaders can be clear on their company values and ability to make local change,they are often less sure of how to communicate about CSR in an authentic way, and how bestto use new media tools for the greatest reach.Interviews with thought leaders in CSR and social media offer tips that can assist smallerorganizations in giving a voice to their values. Further, these experts challenge SMEs to takeCSR from something that’s “the right thing to do” to the next level – a strategic approach thataligns business goals with social initiatives in a way that strengthens the community, enhancestheir brand and positively impacts the bottom line.METHODOLOGYThe following report is based on first-person accounts from business leaders as well asdescriptions of best practices from experts in the fields of CSR and social media. This is a smallsampling of Washington, DC region SMEs active in their communities. An emphasis wasplaced on speaking with businesses that are known for having a well-defined set of companyvalues and award-winning approaches to workplace excellence, sustainability and CSR. Thebusinesses have between 10 and 300 employees, falling within the definition of SME set by theU.S. federal government’s Small Business Administration. A standard set of questions wasused to elicit comparable responses from each. (See Appendix) Additional questions naturallycame up in the course of interviews.   1
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTSINTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................................3 Key Interview Findings ..............................................................................................................................3SECTION I CSR & SMEs ...........................................................................................................................5 Local Focus, Authenticity Required ..........................................................................................................5 Company Snapshot - Soupergirl ...........................................................................................................9 Millennials Matter…………………………………………………………………………………….................10 Company Snapshot – Reznick Group……………………………………………………………………...10SECTION II CSR COMMUNICATIONS………………………………………………………………………..12 Reluctant Communicators………………………………………………………………………………………12 Be Aligned & Authentic - What Big Business Can Teach Small…………...…....…………………………13 Company Snapshot – Potomac Pizza……………………………………………………………………..15 Company Snapshot – Chaney Enterprises………………………………………………………………..16SECTION III CSR & SOCIAL MEDIA…………………………………………………………………………..17 Social Media Reach & Rules Unclear…………………………………………………………………………17 Time is Biggest Downside………………………………………………………………………………….…..20 5 Social Media Lessons Learned………………………………………………………………………………21 Company Snapshot – Aronson LLC………………………………………………………………………..22 How to Do Social Media Right – Advice from an Expert…………………………………………………….23 Company Snapshot – Honest Tea………………………………………………………………………….25 Company Snapshot – Virginia Spine Institute……………………………………………………………..27CONCLUSION.……………………………………………………………………………………………………..28APPENDIX………………………………………………..…………………………………………………………30   2
  4. 4. INTRODUCTIONCorporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has transitioned from a feel-good to a must-do part ofbusiness. Study after study shows that not only are consumers more likely to supportbusinesses that practice CSR, they expect it. For example, 86 percent of global consumersbelieve that business needs to place at least equal weight on the interests of society as onthose of business, according to the 2010 Edelman goodpurpose Study which surveyed 7,000consumers in 13 countries.iLong gone are the days when a company’s sole responsibility was to earn profit forshareholders. Now companies large and small recognize they must also earn the respect andsupport of the public through responsible business practices and an investment in thecommunity.Major corporations such as General Mills, Gap, Nike, Wal-Mart and Cisco Systems devotesizeable budget and employee hours to creating and reporting on CSR initiatives. Is CSR then,only the domain of large companies with big advertising budgets or those that can meet theUnited Nations Global Compact’s 10 Principles? Is it too complicated or expensive for smalland medium enterprises?KEY INTERVIEW FINDINGSThis research asked small business leaders how they define CSR, whether they communicateabout CSR initiatives, and whether they use social media to do so. Their responses highlight anumber of key issues: • Local Focus These business leaders say no matter a company’s size, they can make a difference. Being “hyper-local” creates immediate and lasting impact. • Authenticity Required The companies interviewed here make a distinction between CSR as a box that gets ticked off and CSR that is ingrained in the value system of the business. Some have crystallized those values and added activities after many years. Other business owners have made a conscious decision to run their companies in a sustainable or socially responsible way from the beginning. • Millennials Matter A generational shift is changing both consumer and employee expectations. This drives community engagement and the role of CSR in recruitment. • CSR Strategy/Communications Lacking Experts interviewed say CSR should be strategic to create the most benefit for all, and that it’s not only okay, but necessary for businesses to spread the word about what they’re doing. Many of these business leaders however, are still hesitant to "toot their own horns" and express difficulties deciding when and how much to communicate. • Social Media Emerging All companies agree that social media is a necessary communications tool in their arsenals, however they are at different stages of adoption. Some companies routinely use social media in CSR communications, while others are not pushing it out there, relying instead on stakeholders reading the information on their web sites.   3
  5. 5. • Social Reach and Rules Unclear The companies share a lack of strategic planning in their social media communications. Even those that use it more frequently do so in an almost experimental fashion, and see how it goes. Those companies that are new to social media express confusion about what combination of tools to use and how to measure success. • Time Is Biggest Downside Participants have been surprised by the investment of time needed to post, monitor and reply in social media spaces, as well as the length of time that it takes to create relationships that result in meaningful audience engagement.   4
  6. 6. Section 1: CSR & SMEs | What does CSR look like in a small business?>> GO LOCAL FOR MAXIMUM IMPACTCSR for SMEs is not about meeting international standards or writing glossy sustainabilityreports. It IS about creating what I’ll call “hyper-local” benefit - improving the communitieswhere employees and customers live and work. It’s about getting those same people involvedto make small changes that add up to something bigger. It’s about creating relationships andbuilding teams - with the community and within the business. It’s about meeting a generationalshift, satisfying a need in the younger generation of workers to not just go to work, but to make adifference.Anecdotal evidence from this project and large surveys show that for many small- and medium-sized businesses in the United States, CSR remains centered on philanthropy: donations ofmoney directly to an organization, employee volunteerism or lending of services.ii There’s afocus on the social and economic pillars of the triple bottom line. For many SMEs,“sustainability” is about helping individuals and organizations thrive in the long term.>> SIZE DOESN’T MATTERWhether a company’s “community” reaches around the world oraround the block, it is sure to have social problems that need to beaddressed. A crime-ridden downtown in need of revitalization? Ahealth problem affecting a segment of the population? “The impetusfor being involved might be the same. It’s to make things better,”says Catherine Taylor Keller, Director of Communications &Outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business CivicLeadership Center (BCLC).In her six years at the BCLC Taylor Keller has seen companieslarge and small increasingly recognize CSR as a legitimate way ofdoing business. Where companies once questioned, “Why are webeing asked to get involved with something like the quality of publiceducation or why are we being asked to address the HIV situation inthe communities where we work,” business leaders now tell her they “The smartest, mostrecognize an opportunity to shape communities and gain a innovative companiescompetitive edge. “The smartest, most innovative companies have have stepped upstepped up grandly and said, “We can tackle this and it makes grandly and said, “Wesense to tackle it.” can tackle this and itThe businesses profiled in this research have been publicly makes sense to tacklerecognized for their involvement in the local community and for their it.”values-driven approach. These company leaders uniformly feel that - Catherine Taylor Kellerthey’re part of a larger picture and when they see a problem they BCLC  CAN do something about it.“My eyes started opening and I realized I was no longer an individual,” says Matt Hodgson,president and CEO of web development and technology firm Hodgson Consulting. “We are acollective group of people. We’re a company with a little more power. If we want to do   5
  7. 7. something we have money – more than I do in my personal bank account. We have people –more than I do in my family.”Hodgson says he was astounded to learn about the poverty rate in the Washington, DC suburbof Montgomery County, one of the nation’s most affluent regions. The company has sincetaught adult computer literacy classes, lends web expertise to local non-profits, makes baglunches for the homeless and helps out with manual labor at a local charity when needed. “I’min a fortunate position where my business does well and I can fulfill a need,” he says.For the team at the Virginia Spine Institute, CSR links the corporate for-profit and the non-profitworlds. “They are two very distinct groups and I think in order for societies to thrive and forpeople in communities to thrive, you need to bridge that gap,” says Marketing Director ErinOrr. While the Institute has a planned calendar of CSR activities, Orr says employees feelempowered to create new initiatives. “It’s that “lethal generosity” that they talk about –unleashing our corporate super-powers for good.”Both companies started small without a defined set of values, but as they grew they began tocrave a higher purpose and could envision the impact they could make locally. They developedmission and values statements that now guide both business and CSR.>> KEY FINDING – AUTHENTICITY REQUIREDThe push to embrace CSR has never been greater, but the SMEs interviewed for this projectagree that authenticity is paramount. CSR without a heart is an empty gesture, so profit cannotbe the sole motivator.“There is nothing that is more quickly discovered as disingenuous than false philanthropy,” saysBarbara Mullenex of Washington, DC design firm OPX. “There are things we do for profit andthere are things we do not for profit, but you can’t have one set of values for your business andone set of values for your CSR.”In 2005 OPX overhauled its traditional design firmapproach to explicitly focus on sustainability – in thematerials and design choices it makes for clients, inthe way it treats employees and the communityprojects it takes on. The firm created an employee-led initiative for its 25th anniversary in 2008 calledOPX Magic. Their goal was to organize and complete25 community service projects that year, but theyactually completed 37. OPX Magic now uses anonline portal through the Catalogue for PhilanthropyDC, which allows employees to choose from hundredsof local charities they want to help, then plan, trackand communicate about projects. OPX features theportal in a special Community section of its website.At accounting and consulting firm Aronson LLC, a desire to invest in the community led to thecreation of the Aronson Foundation. It grants contributions from company employees andofficers to charities working on children’s and other community causes. Since 2004 thefoundation has awarded $775,000.   6
  8. 8. “I want this firm to be seen as more than just accountants who sift through, collect data, analyze numbers and try to realize as much profit as possible. These are humans, people with families and lives, who are also directly integrated into the community,” says Stephen White, Vice President, Operations. Repeatedly named a top local and national accounting firm, Aronson LLC has also been recognized among Washington’s best places to work for creating a positive environment. “We have the foundation but we also have a structure internally where employees can give back time, between one and five per cent of an individual’s time can be given back to the community.”>> SMEs FOUNDED ON A MISSIONWhile some companies have embraced CSR along the way, forothers the mission started on day one. BetterWorld Telecom isone of those businesses. The national telecom carrierheadquartered in Reston, VA focuses on serving companies andnon-profits that support social justice and sustainability.BetterWorld was founded in 2003 with a triple bottom linemission. It provides phone and internet services at a lower price than leading carriers, whiledonating three per cent of revenues to causes that benefit children, education, environment andfair trade. Its virtual office keeps employees connected across the country with minimalenvironmental impact, and BetterWorld gives them at least two days a month to volunteer withlocal organizations.Certified as a For Benefit company by B Corporation, BetterWorldalso provides clients solutions to lower their footprints by using less “We strive very muchenergy. “Both through the work that we’re doing and the way that to have honestwe’re running our company, it’s to be an alternative to a giant,faceless telecom company,” says Social Media Manager Salem communications andKimble. “This is very much a conscious step away from that world be very authentic.to something that has more meaning and operates with higher Instead of shyingprinciples.” away and just talking about it on the peripheral we’ve really Going against the norm was certainly a driving force behind little guy-turned big said, we know this is company Honest Tea. With the our problem and beverage market then dominated by we’re not happysoda and other sweetened drinks, founders Seth Goldman and about it. This is howBarry Nalebuff set out to create an entirely different sector: we’re trying to workunsweetened, whole leaf and organic. Since its start in 1998, thecompany has become one of the most profitable and recognized to get to a bettersustainable businesses in America, with sales over $70 million in result.”2010. It was purchased by Coca Cola in March 2011 and now - Kelly Cardamone,operates as an independent subsidiary that still only employs Honest Teaaround 120 people.   7
  9. 9. How did Honest Tea grow from Goldman’s Bethesda, MD kitchen to national symbol ofsustainability? By focusing on CSR from the beginning and weaving it through every aspect ofthe business, including: sourcing organic and fair trade ingredients, reducing the use of plasticand paper in its containers, creating ground-breaking national recycling programs, andpartnering with numerous national and local nonprofits to work on issues such as theenvironment, education, breast cancer and small business development.“There’s this little company that was paving the way for beverages and food. That’s really howwe see ourselves,” says Kelly Cardamone, Special-tea Projects Manager. “When you can provethat this model works, the bigger companies take notice and if they can start also shifting towardhealthier options then you’ve created this change.”   8
  10. 10. COMPANY SNAPSHOT: SOUPERGIRLServing Up CSR, One Bowl at a Time Entrepreneur Sarah Polon has a mission to change the world one local business at a time. An “aha moment” propelled her into a new career focused on local sustainability. After reading Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” she donned her new identity of “Soupergirl,” creating a home delivery soup business. “I didn’t want to start necessarily a company. What I wanted to do is be part of the local food movement,” says Polon. Three years and hundreds of recipes after cooking up the first pot of soup with her mother, the duo have expanded beyond the delivery service with a large retail space staffed by 12 employees who serve hundreds of customers a day. The way her business has taken off has convinced Polon, “You can start a profitable, yet responsible company.”Polon uses only ingredients grown on local farms. Her soups are allvegan, and without dairy and meat have a light environmentalfootprint. She composts, has outfitted her new retail location withfurniture made from recycled materials, and uses recyclablecontainers. “Those containers cost double what regular ones doand I could get my produce for a quarter the price (elsewhere), butin the long run if people are focused on health and responsibility, Ithink it will come back in terms of financial standing, respect of thecommunity and karma.”With sustainability a core value, CSR is woven into Polon’s missionand every bowl of soup she serves. She tries to keep the tone lightthough, with humorous messaging on the web site where customersmake orders. “The green movement can sometimes feel really “We can change ourserious, which it should be because we’ve got this serious community onesubject. But, “sometimes people don’t want to be eating a business at a time,mission. So we have fun with our message.” not only one person orPolon also looks for other ways to engage locally, giving to causes one nonprofit.and local charity auctions, donating excess soup to local non-profit Businesses can reallyMartha’s Table and hiring employees from DC Central Kitchen, change the way thewhich helps people get back on their feet. world works.” - Sarah Polon, Owner“I’m worried about the state of the world and it’s very hard to fathom Soupergirlchanging the world, but you can fathom changing yourneighborhood, your community,” says Polon. “That’s how you makea change on a local level. And if enough people focus on the local level it will turn global.”   9
  11. 11. >> KEY FINDING – MILLENNIALS MATTER | Tracking the generational shiftThe passion for being part of change that drives young entrepreneurs like Sarah Polon is asignal to SMEs: the new generation of workers wants more than just a job. In a Pew Researchsurvey of 1,800 people age 13-25, 80 per cent said they want to work for a company that caresabout how it impacts society.iiiCompany leaders interviewed here say their young employees see work as just one part of the24-hour continuum of their day, and any hour is an opportunity to make adifference. Businesses that don’t incorporate sustainability into their culture will lose out on toptalent.COMPANY SNAPSHOT: REZNICK GROUPCSR drives Millennial recruitingAccounting firm Reznick Group is using CSR in its strategyto recruit the best young students to its firm. It has a special“In the Community” tab in its online Careers section andcompany brochure. The firm markets its long history ofworking in the area of low income housing tax credits andthe certification of its Bethesda, MD office as a GreenBusiness, for reducing waste, recycling and lowering itsenergy footprint.In an appeal to the YouTube generation, Reznick makes significant use of video. The Careerssection features two videos, one explaining the company’s green certification and anotherdescribing its Pay It Forward program, which gives each employee a small “something extra”every December to donate to a charity of their choice. The video features young employeesdescribing the numerous types of causes that have benefitted.Video is also used heavily on Reznick’s Facebook page. Nine videos showcase the real-peopleimpact of the firm’s work in facilitating funds through its New Markets Tax Credit Program. Thestories range from rebuilding New Orlean’s Lower 9th Ward, to creating a California facility forthe disabled, and revitalizing a Baltimore neighborhood.“It’s something from a recruiting point of view that’s taken on more importance,” says RachelPlatt, Human Resources Director. “That engagement that people have where they feel likethey’re part of something bigger is a big part of people overall feeling proud of the company theywork for and we hear that from people.”Alongside the paid time off and 401k plan, Reznick lists “extensive charitable and communityinvolvement” among the Perks and Benefits. It describes office-wide community events whereemployees spend the day on service initiatives.We have a very young work force so people get excited from doing these things,” says KarrieGoldstein, Reznick’s College Recruiting Manager. “People do want to be involved. They wantto do more than just their job every day, because if all they’re doing is coming and doing theirjob for eight or ten hours a day, they’re not going to be here for long.”   10
  12. 12. Reznick’s Facebook page features videos on the company’s community involvement.   11
  13. 13. Section II: CSR Communications | Bragging, or building relationships?>> RELUCTANT COMMUNICATORSThis anecdotal survey revealed a uniform commitment among companies to making communitychange. There was less agreement, however, on whether and how to communicate aboutCSR. When does it go beyond building relationships and amount to nothing more thanbragging?“You’ve put your finger on the thing we’re probably missing the most and it’s the hardest thing tomarket,” says Adam Greenberg, president and founder of Restaurant Zone which managesPotomac Pizza locations in four DC-area suburbs. “You know, someone wins first place at therace – are they going to run around and tell everyone they got first place?”A reluctance to tell their CSR story is common among SMEs says Catherine Taylor Keller of theBCLC. “We’ve found that companies of all sizes will not want to toot their own horns.”Interestingly the businesses interviewed here all report feedback from vendors, clients andcustomers who say they value their community involvement. Yet several communicate mostlyinternally about CSR or make it public only by putting information on a company website, whichrequires action by stakeholders to find it.The Case AGAINST CommunicatingDesign firm OPX is very explicit about its values statement but does not “go out there and bangthe drum” about CSR on a regular basis. “I’m not really sure I want to,” comments ownerBarbara Mullenex, saying her personal desire to make a difference is not something that shouldbe exploited.Mullenex relates a recent example of “quiet” caring. After the September 2011 earthquake inJapan the firm gave a Japanese employee time off to go home and help. They sent with him atraditional Japanese symbol of hope – origami cranes. “During the day and in the evenings athome, this group of people folded a thousand cranes. It was kind of a quiet way for us toindividually tell him that...how he was feeling about this was important to us.”Mullenex is a founding member of Companies for Causes, which brings together values-drivencompanies to partner on philanthropic efforts. In discussions about communication the Causemembers have asked, “Shouldn’t we tell people we’re going to do X, Y and Z? And I think thegroup is like, ‘No, let’s just go do X, Y and Z and then we can tell people about it.”Mullenex says she wants people to know about the values at OPX but she worries that pushinginformation out will lead stakeholders to question the company’s motives. “We want people toknow that we’re not doing it because it’s like paying your taxes, something you have to do. It’smore important than that.”The Case FOR CommunicatingAs president of Montgomery County’s Corporate Volunteer Council, Matt Hodgson of HodgsonConsulting sees many companies who are doing good works but don’t want to talk about it. Herespects their decision, but doesn’t agree with it.   12
  14. 14. “I think a lot of companies start by thinking, ‘I’m going to goout and do some work. They don’t tell anyone about it.They don’t get any recognition for it. They get cranky andthey stop doing it. I’ve seen that happen.”Hodgson says being exposed to community need has convinced him one of the best ways tohelp is to spread the word among vendors and clients with greater resources. “I want them toknow about it because I want them to know they’re engaged with a company that believes inthis stuff. I also want them to know because they’re in a position to do a lot more than me.”Extending the reach of small business CSR is not only a good idea but a responsibility,according to Nancy Goldbranson, Practice Administrator at the Virginia Spine Institute. TheReston, VA private healthcare center collaborates with two CSR partners - the national SpinalResearch Foundation which it raises money for in an annual 5K race, and local nonprofit RestonInterfaith, which it supports through ongoing drives for food, backpacks and other donations.“You have a responsibility to communicate what you’re doing so that other people know it’s outthere and want to emulate your organization in a good way,” says Goldbranson. “It’s like therock you drop in a pond. If someone else hears about what you’re doing and it taps into themand it just starts to spread, you have more people doing more good for the less fortunate or forpeople in need.”>> WHAT BIG BUSINESS CAN TEACH SMALLAligned and AuthenticClearly, talking about CSR can potentially extend the impact of good work, inspire employees,attract recruits and generate new business. But some SMEs remain stumped about how tocommunicate in an authentic way that doesn’t offend a cynical public.CSR expert Jonathan Yohannan says while it may seem counter-intuitive for SMEs nervousabout seeming inauthentic to focus on their brands, in fact it’s the very thing they need to do.The biggest CSR mistake by business? “Focusing on the social side, the philanthropy andcause, and not talking about the business,” says Yohannan, Senior Vice President and actinghead of CSR at Cone Communications.Yohannan has worked with large companies such as General Mills, Starbucks, Nestle,CVS/Caremark and Timberland. He says some of the most successful CSR programs are bycompanies that integrate the corporate responsibility message into the brand, “giving people areason to believe.”Yohannan points to the strong following among college students enjoyed by Toms Shoes, whichdonates one pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. Since it waslaunched in 2006, the company has given away more than a million pairs of shoes to childrenaround the world.   13
  15. 15. He also advises Sambazon, which markets acai berry products in ALIGNED ANDgrocery stores and juice bars across the United States. Sambazon AUTHENTICworks with non-governmental organizations in Brazil to promote 3 Things SMEssustainable forest practices. Guaranteeing a long-term supply of Should Knowacai fruit is good for the business, but it also gives low-incomecommunities an economic alternative to clear-cutting that helps 1. CSR is not justpreserve the Amazon Rainforest. cause. It’s about how you operate yourYes, those are two examples of social justice companies, but business.Yohannan says the model can be adapted to other businesses. He 2. Address your materialcites the work of EMC, an international information technology issues when devisingcompany that helps other businesses store data. “There’s a way to CSR strategy. Aligntake services and talk about how they help...what their products are what’s important todelivering to society,” he says. EMC’s social responsibility “is about business growth withimpact on the environment and security of the data.” what’s important to your primary stakeholders.Yohannan says general statements about doing the right thing don’twash with a skeptical public so it’s imperative to back up CSR with Examples: Timberland =clear goals and reliable company data. EMC has an extensive outdoor enthusiasts =breakdown of its sustainability goals and performance on its environment; local pizza business = families =website. community/schools.Research shows an increasing number of large companies report a 3. Make it relevant tostrategic effort to link business goals to CSR. In a 2011 survey of your audiences.490 companies by the Center for Corporate Citizenship at BostonCollege, 80 per cent said community involvement initiatives directly Example: Deer Parksupport defined company goals. A significant majority also said Water focuses less onthey communicate their efforts externally, most often on the its emergency responsecompany website.iv work than on how it is reducing plastic in its single serving bottles,“I think that not communicating is a mistake,” says Catherine Taylor an issue important to itsKeller of the Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC). To be consumers.taken seriously though, she says SMEs must avoid an “Oh, by theway,” silo approach. “Don’t add it as a separate item to do. Buildyour business messaging, build your brand around this type ofinvolvement and it will sing a lot more true for your audience. Itgives it authenticity.” Jonathan Yohannan, SVP, Cone, Inc.   14
  16. 16. COMPANY SNAPSHOT: POTOMAC PIZZASupport customers and they’ll support you“Let us help you.” That’s the message Potomac Pizza delivers to the students, clubs andcommunity organizations whose members are also the paying families that make its restaurantssuccessful. A visitor to the Potomac Pizza website is only one click away from a direct offer ofassistance. “Need a donation for your fundraiser or silent auction? Click here,” says the onlinetab. “I believe that the corporate community should step up and do more,” says Adam Greenberg, president and founder of Restaurant Zone, which manages four Potomac Pizza restaurants in DC’s Maryland suburbs. With a dedicated community outreach employee, “We’ve made things easy - streamlining community relations and giving and outreach, and making sure we’re doing the right thing.” Potomac Pizza has become the go-to supplier of pizza and subs for non-profit fundraisers and local school events, offering discounts and giving away thousands of slices eachyear. It’s a strategic approach to corporate giving: align the business goal of eventually sellingmore pizza to targeted audiences such as schools and families, with the CSR goal of supportinglocal events and initiatives. Greenberg calls the collaborations “win-win situations.” Communitygroups have a no-stress supplier of food and Potomac Pizza benefits from the good will itcreates.In the restaurant business since his late teens, Greenberg believesin the power of networking, marketing and staying true to his values.When opening his fourth Potomac Pizza location in 2006, he gavefive charities a day each to promote themselves in-store and earn100 per cent of the proceeds. He gave away about $18,000 thatweek.“Treat others the way you want to be treated yourself. It’s the way Iwant my kids to be brought up,” says Greenberg. “We’re in thebusiness to make money and we’re in the business to lead byexample and to do the right thing.”   15
  17. 17. COMPANY SNAPSHOT: CHANEY ENTERPRISESManaging a reputation for the long-termThe “doing well by doing good” mantra of CSR isn’tabout increasing immediate sales for ChaneyEnterprises. It’s about long-term reputationmanagement. As the largest producer of sand andgravel in Maryland, with a need for land from which tomine those elements, Chaney relies on its reputationas a good neighbor and environmental steward.“We have the Chaney cycle which really starts with community relations, getting good land andpermitting that, mining it in a responsible way, processing the highest quality products we can,and then as we come back around the circle, we have to reclaim that land,” says Chaneymarketing manager Steve Tripp.“If we mess up, if we don’t follow through on our commitments, if we don’t take care of thecommunities we’re in, we won’t have the privilege of repeating that cycle.” So the company hasdeveloped a multi-track CSR strategy that includes transparency, sustainability and local giving.Transparency Chaney begins each new project by consulting with and educating localneighbors and politicians through meetings and newsletters. Mine site tours provide ongoingtransparency.Sustainability Chaney has committed to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards ofsustainability: it recycles concrete, oil and office products; is converting from fuel oil to biofuel;and promotes the use of EPA-recommended pervious concrete, which is more environmentallyfriendly because it reduces erosion from water runoff.Local Giving The company makes material and financial donations, and sponsors eventsbenefitting more than 20 national and local nonprofits. Chaney also established a foundation with a focus on environment and education. As one of the largest employers in southern Maryland, Chaney makes strategic investments in educating potential workers, providing scholarships, facility tours and career days. Taken as a whole, the CSR program is aligned to the company’s strengths, and Tripp says, its long- term business goal of keeping the Chaney cycle going. “If somebody understands us better, when the opportunity comes for us to be in that community, they will be open to us.”Chaney donates pervious concrete mix to createQuiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Md.   16
  18. 18. Section III: CSR & Social Media | Can you cut through the clutter?Studies show that people want to know about and will support company efforts to be sociallyresponsible. Large companies at least, are responding by telling their stories on multipleplatforms. But is the message getting through? It’s possible that CSR communications gomostly unrecognized. According to a 2010 branding survey, while “communications aboutsocial responsibility have significant impact on favorability and purchase intent...only 11% (ofthose surveyed) say they’ve heard communications about CSR from any company in the pastyear.”vIf even the big guns aren’t getting through the communications clutter, what does this mean forsmall and medium-sized businesses with tiny staffs and lower budgets? Can social media, withits relatively low entry cost, provide a breakthrough communications tool to help SMEs tell theirstory? The answer is a qualified yes.Key findings from the companies interviewed in this project: • All see the potential for social media but are at different stages of adoption • Many lack a strategic plan for social media communications • Investment of time is the biggest expense • Social media can be an effective tool for CSR communications if used correctly>> SME SOCIAL MEDIA USE ON THE RISESocial media use is increasing among the general public and small business. Recent surveysshow SMEs are universally aware of social media and a third to half are using it tocommunicate. At least one study suggests social media benefits to small business include newpartnerships, improved sales, reduced marketing costs, and increased exposure.viAs of publication, only one of the 12 businesses interviewed for this project had no presence onsocial media platforms. Two others were using it on a limited basis while formulating socialmedia policies. The other nine have waded in to the social media waters but only a few have aspecific strategy in place, further evidence that social media is still very much in theadoption/early learning phase.>> KEY FINDING – SOCIAL REACH & RULES UNCLEAR | Still more questionsthan answersSocial media is moving at breakneck speed and most businesses are learning behind thewheel. Many are frustrated over how to figure out which platforms to use, what and how oftento post, and whether it will be worth the effort.Potomac Pizza owner Adam Greenberg started with Facebook because it seemed the easiestand he now also links his posts to Twitter. His efforts to create engagement include offering giftcards to customers who post pictures in a restaurant. He also uses Facebook to let peopleknow about community events he’s supporting, but he’s concerned the company news getsburied in readers’ newsfeeds. “You almost have to post something four times a day, and thenare you ticking off as many people? Would I be better off knocking on two doors a day andsaying hi than spending half an hour on Facebook?”   17
  19. 19. Greenberg is considering starting a monthly email newsletter tokeep customers informed of what the business is doing in the “Would I be better offcommunity but he also has questions about email marketing. “Is it knocking on two doorsas effective as it was three years ago? Are people feeling like a day and saying hithey’re getting spammed too much? There’s so many different than spending a halfoptions, so many ways to go. It’s really just mind-boggling.” an hour onSand and gravel company Chaney Enterprises got into social Facebook?”media with some trepidation. It uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn - Adam Greenberg,and YouTube to market its products and approach to local concrete Owner, Potomac Pizzasub-contractors. “Initially it was more to check the box. I struggled,asking ‘What are we going to get out of this?’” admits Marketing Manager Steve Tripp. “Let’sface it, the construction industry probably isn’t where you see the most iPhones and iPads andthings like that.”Still, Tripp has found Facebook gives him a platform to share Chaney’s views on sustainableconcrete products, information on the company’s client and community appreciation events, anddonations by the Chaney Foundation to help end local problems such as high unemploymentand hunger.Tripp says the next phase is to generate more engagement with the community by askingpeople to post their own comments and photos. “If there’s a Boy Scout project or something likethat and they’re looking for a small donation of concrete or materials, we’ll ask them...to postsome pictures to our wall. That’s the kind of thing where we can get a little bit of an interactionwith the community and people can see things that are not engineered by us.”Optimal Networks COO David Campbell was an early skeptic of social media. “I didn’t reallysee the value in having the organization’s face on Facebook. I realize now I’m in the minoritythere.” The company has ramped up profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a recentlycreated YouTube channel. To date, it primarily uses the platforms to post thought leadershipcontent on IT issues. It hasn’t yet optimized social media for CSR communications. The company has won several workplace excellence awards for its employeepolicies and commitment to volunteerism but is still trying to shake off a years-held reluctance totalk about CSR publicly. “We do know that we owe that because people want to know whatwe’re doing and if we don’t tell, they assume we’re not doing anything.”Soupergirl owner Sarah Polon says she hasn’t yet mastered how to use Facebook and Twitteras more than broadcast channels. For now she’s most concerned about marketing her soupsand alerting customers to menu changes. She also occasionally posts links to media reviewsand articles on the local food movement which generate some “likes,” but she isn’t seeking orseeing a great deal of audience engagement on the social media channels.“I’m sure I could use it more effectively,” says Polon, who has instead focused on onlinerelationship building within the Soupergirl website. She creates humorous stories about eachsoup and asks customers to rate them in the online “Soup Pantry.” Each new soup offeringgenerates a handful of comments. “People have a lot going on and I’m just one of the manythings they’re fans of,” says Polon. “I just think posting on the Soupergirl page is not on the topof everyone’s priority list.”   18
  20. 20. >> A DEBATE OVER REACHOne of the big promises of social media is its ability to spread key messages beyond currentaudiences as people share content. With followers in the low to high hundreds though, someSMEs remain unconvinced about social media’s reach. “I don’t think we’re going to be able toreach a bunch of people who otherwise we were not going to be able to get to,” says DavidCampbell of Optimal Networks. “We’re not going to get the same sort of brand recognition asCoke by using Twitter.”Matt Hodgson of Hodgson Consulting agrees that small business owners should be realistic intheir expectations. “I’ve been to many seminars on social media and I give seminars. I find itincredibly frustrating and annoying when you get someone from Google or Yahoo or Coca Colaor any of the big brands who get up and say, ‘You need to be part of social media because if theconversation is happening, you need to be a part of it.’ And I’m thinking, I’ve got a 30-persontechnology company. I can guarantee you that in Idaho there is no conversation going on aboutme. Probably in Montgomery County right now there is no conversation.”It’s not the size of the audience that’s important, counters socialmedia expert Colin Moffett, but the level of engagement you create. “It’s not the size of“You may have an audience base of a thousand people. In that the audience that’scase getting a couple hundred people to pay attention to what important. It’s theyou’re doing on social media is great,” says Moffett, SVP Digital level of engagementCommunications for global PR firm Weber Shandwick. you create.” - Colin Moffett,Campbell of Optimal Networks says social media’s greatest value SVP, Weber Shandwickso far has been to give the company a faster, more intimate way ofreaching people it’s already connected to. He calls it a digital“footprint in a place where people are looking for you.”But other SMEs report that social media is giving them an access point to entirely newaudiences. “One of the biggest rewards that we’ve seen is the connectivity we’ve been able tomake with people we would not normally have been able to reach,” says Erin Orr of the VirginiaSpine Institute. “You make one relationship with someone and the next thing you know, they’rereferring you to someone else.”Orr says in addition to increasing brand recognition among potential clients, she’s seen anincrease in media coverage since she began creating content for social media channels such asYouTube.Stephen White of accounting firm Aronson LLC also says that shifting resources from traditionalPR to social media has garnered his company more press. “There was a time when I wouldhire a PR person whose sole responsibility was to write, generate and issue press releases,”says White. “I don’t think I’ve had a call from a reporter in the last 12 months, but I’ll tell you,we’ve been in everything from CNN to The Huffington Post to Washington Business Journal.They’re getting all that information because they went to our blogs and social media pages.”>> SOCIAL PRESENCE NOW EXPECTEDDespite ongoing confusion about how to effectively use social media and whether it will lead tonew clients, most business leaders agree it’s a must. For BetterWorld Telecom’s Salem Kimble,it’s a question of professionalism and accessibility. It’s “the standard of having some other   19
  21. 21. method other than a rote contact form on a website. If you don’t have someother way for people to get in touch with you in one of these variousmediums, I think it undermines your credibility as a company that’s customerfacing,” says Kimble, BetterWorld’s Social Media Development Manager.She also believes there’s a generational shift driving how individuals andbusinesses consume and share information. “I’m the youngest person by faron the BetterWorld team. I’m just about half the age of most of them,” saysKimble, who works with a number of telecom industry veterans. “I’m speakingas a Generation Y/Millenial, so to me and to pretty much everyone after myage, (not using social media) sort of marks a company as out of touch. If a company doesn’thave some engagement in social media they’re not paying attention to where everything isgoing.”With the 50-plus age group rapidly adopting social media, Weber Shandwick digital expert ColinMoffett feels it’s more than a youth-driven trend. He does agree though, that a social mediashift has happened, especially in the past year.“I think a couple years ago it was this brave new world where you could reach and connect withpeople,” says Moffett. Now with the increasing use of mobile devices and the blurring of offlineand online activities, social media is “actually in many ways how a lot of information is shared,how people learn about things. It’s no longer social media. It’s just media.”>> KEY FINDING – TIME IS BIGGEST DOWNSIDE | Social media is not “free”In straight “dollars spent” terms, social media is indeed low-cost. There’s no charge to set upbasic accounts on the most popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Asmany of us know from personal experience, however, time is the biggest investment, and in anybusiness, time is money.One of the questions that this project set out to answer is whether social media, with its lowentry cost, is uniquely suited to SMEs with small staffs and budgets. The answer would be astraight-forward yes were it not for the clock. Interviewees uniformly report a range of concernsaround the amount of time social media takes: to master the different tools; learn best practicesfor strategic communications; create content that can be updated frequently; build an audience;and establish meaningful dialogue.“If I had to tell other businesses one thing about it, it’s that you had better be committed to itbecause it’s almost like turning on water. Once you turn it on, it’s on,” says David Campbell ofOptimal Networks, whose company president is “now spending a considerable amount of time”on social media. “It’s very difficult to start down the road of social media and then decide youdon’t like it anymore. Once you go into those arenas, you have to be committed both on afinancial level and strategically to make it go.”SMEs should proceed carefully, cautions IT company CEO Matt Hodgson. “I think social mediais a great tool. Could it kill a business? I think it can. If you take a 10-person company and saygo get involved with social media, they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’remessing around with social media. They’re trying to figure it out. They’re having a conversationwith themselves,” says Hodgson. “It’s a waste of time, money, resources and productivity.”   20
  22. 22. Better, says Hodgson, to think of social media as just one small part of communications andmarketing. Weber Shandwick’s Colin Moffett agrees. “A lot of the tried and true ways wecommunicated with people are not going away. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon the oldand only do the new.”So SMEs are to keep communicating the way they always have but now add more channels?Who has the time? “That’s the big hurdle for people,” says Moffett. “There’s a lot of opportunityto share timely information with efficiency and speed like never before. That’s the good news.The bad news is, it takes more sustained effort, time and energy to communicate with people onan ongoing basis.”IN THEIR OWN WORDS: 5 SOCIAL MEDIA LESSONS LEARNED1. Success takes time: “There’s a lot of noise out there. So as a small company with not a lotof budget to push systematic campaigns or spend a lot of advertising dollars on adwords andthat kind of stuff, it can be challenging,” says BetterWorld Telecom’s Salem Kimble. “There’s along return arc on social media. It can be a long tail to actually see results.”2. Getting it right is important: Growing from small to mid-size, 10-year-old management andtechnology consulting firm Acuity Inc. is creating its first-ever strategic communications plan.When Sharon Grevious was hired last Spring she quickly set up social media channels onFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. “When I came onboard I said, ‘Okay these are goingto be quick wins so I’ll just go ahead and do that first.’ I’ve learned that it really does take somededication and some time to do.”Grevious readjusted her approach, choosing to do a “soft launch” of social media – sending outlinks to employees and internal stakeholders first to generate traffic. “You always are grapplingwith what’s going to add the most value, what’s going to resonate and what’s relevant.”3. Brief is best: “In the blogs people think they have to write an essay,” says Matt Hodgson ofHodgson Consulting. “Type up what you want to write in three sentences and put it out there.You don’t have to write a book.”4. Be prepared for negative feedback: Interviewees report being taken aback by negativeonline comments such as an employee complaining about work on Facebook, a disgruntledapplicant on Yelp! or a dissatisfied customer on Twitter. The other side of instantcommunication is instant and very public feedback. “The first thing you need to decide is ifthere is anything you can do about it and if so, act quickly,” says David Campbell of OptimalNetworks.5. Use the open dialogue to your advantage: The immediate feedback of social media canbe faster than information trickling back from field representatives. Honest Tea says it canrespond to problems faster and it finds online fans help each other out. “It brings in otherpeople as opposed to an email which is a very personal communication,” says Samme Menke,former PR Manager. “Maybe someone in new York is looking for a particular product and can’tfind it and someone else will let them know.”   21
  23. 23. COMPANY SNAPSHOT: ARONSON LLCInside one company’s social media thought processAccounting and consulting firm Aronson LLC has attacked social mediaaggressively, shifting traditional communication resources into anongoing series of six blogs that are featured prominently on thecompany website. Stephen White, Vice President, Operations,describes his approach, results and how Aronson LLC uses socialmedia to market company services and CSR through its grant-makingfoundation. • Strategy: Use blogs and social media channels to deliver thought leadership that educates clients about issues and offers company solutions. Two years ago there wasn’t a strategy. If I had a dollar for every time a partner came to me and asked, ‘What’s our Facebook strategy,’ I couldn’t answer that question. I think it was too new. In a very short amount of time, ironically less time than it took us to understand how to harness the internet, we figured out how to use it to communicate differently and better and quicker. • Channels: You can’t possibly be a dominant player in every channel. You have to pick your channels and stay true to those channels. v Facebook. I think a lot of businesses make the mistake of making it primary and I think a lot of companies are trying to mold it into a corporate solution and I’m not sure I buy that. For a corporate solution I don’t think it works but we have to at least have a presence. v YouTube. It’s good for external knowledge transfer. It’s good for just simple brand. But you have to be committed to a video strategy which is something that not many firms of our size or smaller are equipped to deal with in the frequency that I think is necessary to be successful. v LinkedIn. It has a platform that is both scalable and it’s really designed for the corporate world and how corporations interact with one another. • Engagement: Every day we get email responses, people coming to our website, people who comment, “I read that article you posted on the blog. I saw your twitter feed. I would like to sit down and talk to you about my problem and how you might be able to help us.” I’ve never seen that in traditional marketing. • CSR Awareness: We get anecdotal feedback that they saw us online. I get grant requests where they’ll say, “As stated in your blog entry.” • Measurement: I won’t do something if I can’t get a financial ROI or an ROI of mindshare or capture. I have both anecdotal and empirical evidence to suggest that our revenue has been positively impacted by our marketing and social media strategies. Our most popular blog gets 2,800 to 3,200 unique sessions a month. Roughly 10,000 unique and repeat visitors. That’s a lot of eyeballs.   22
  24. 24. • Investment: It’s taken us three years to get there. The person in charge of that is dedicated, committed to it. If you are the type of person who prefers to fly in, fly out, do a couple of blog entries per year, you’re not going to be successful. • Social Media Management: There are technologies today that make it possible to get the message out across the channels in seconds. We use a cloud-based solution called DeliverIt. • Risk: Bad information from internal sources. It’s one thing to put out communication saying we donated to nonprofit Locks of Love. Very little risk there. Let’s say we put out something in relation to a tax law or a change in policy or procedure and we’re wrong. Worse, is outside risks I can’t control – people who comment on our posts, people who comment out of context. How do you control that and how it can impact your brand? It requires you to use outside counsel, which I will admit we don’t use today. • Future Value: How do we differentiate ourselves from the accountant across the street? How do we do it better, faster, cheaper? Those are the questions that we’ll be asking but it will all be driven by the fact that social media and the internet and efficiencies in operations will be so finely tuned that we’ll have to look at different ways of diversification that don’t exist today.>> HOW TO DO SOCIAL MEDIA RIGHT | Advice from an expertThere’s been a fundamental shift in the way people consume and create information. Peoplewant it fast, bite-size but authentic. Following a few rules will help SMEs tell their stories withimpact, says Colin Moffett, SVP Digital Communications, Weber Shandwick. Know your audience: Who are you trying to reach - a very insular group like a group of vendors or your broader market of consumers? What online tools are they using? What do you want from them and what do they want from you? Listen before you leap: Spend a month listening. Have people comb these tools every day for the conversations you care about. Who’s out there? Who’s influential in the space? What are they saying about you? If you listen andreact to what people are saying you’ll get further than just barging into the party and blurtingthings out. People don’t react well to that in person or online.Get in it for the long haul: Engagement is an ongoing thing. Marketing has been an episodicthing where you do a big campaign, you regroup, you do a big event, you regroup. Now youhave to find ways of engaging people on a daily basis and I think that’s a big shift for people.You are a content producer: We used to, from a PR perspective, tee up the stories so thatother people could tell it. Whether you’re small or big. You have to tell your own story.Think like a storyteller: Report facts and figures in interesting and compelling ways. Try notto be robotic. People want to hear from people. Get out of the way and let others tell the story   23
  25. 25. about the impact of your product or community investment. It’s ten times more authentic andcompelling when it comes from that perspective and not from your perspective.Engage, don’t broadcast: Understand that these tools are more like talking on the phone andless like emailing. We still use these channels as mini press release machines. You may say,“Remember tax season is coming,” or you may say “new product in the store.” Those arebroadcast messages. If you want people to have a conversation with you, you have to askquestions. You have to respond to people. You have to share what they’re saying.Measure engagement: Keep the number of page views, the number of friends or followers inmind but look for engagement. Are you getting people to spread what you’re saying, are yougetting people to comment? Are you hearing anecdotal stories, people who walk into yourbusiness and say they read about you?Respect the medium: A mistake I think people make when they start to invest in social mediais to put it in the hands of an intern or someone right out of college. There’s an assumption ayounger person will understand this stuff. They’re digital natives. They use it in their privatelives. That doesn’t make them a sophisticated professional communicator. If you’re handingthese tools to the person at the lowest end of the pay grade, you’re not respecting the potentialenough. You have to think of this as a way to tell your story and you put something with thatweight in the hands of someone who’s a lot closer to the story.>> WHY CSR & SOCIAL MEDIA WORK TOGETHERIf you had to choose a single word that defines best practices in both corporate socialresponsibility and social media, it would be “authentic.” Ask an expert in either field, or evenlaymen who know their gut instincts, and they will tell you that being real, genuine - authentic - iswhat matters. Without that, social media is just another broadcast channel and CSR is anattempt for easy publicity.But done right, the two can work together to tell very personal stories about real people,problems and solutions. “Doing the glossy report every year to talk about your CSR activitiesisn’t compelling and pushing out occasional dry messages in a very robotic way on social mediais not compelling either,” says digital executive Colin Moffett.“From a CSR perspective, think about how you tell the core stories of who you are and whatimpact that has in your community, on the environment, in your neighborhood...on an ongoingbasis. Same for social media. How do you talk about things that are impactful that customerswant to hear about, want to engage with in a real time way?”With most SMEs moving to at least some level of social media outreach, it’s natural to buildCSR communications into the mix, says Catherine Taylor Keller of the Business CivicLeadership Center. The result can be good both for the business and the cause. “How easy isit to click Share This or Tweet This. Whether it’s the sale item or if it’s “We are partnering withHabitat for Humanity...” people will take it personally and they’ll share it with their 500 Facebookfriends and 100 Twitter followers and who knows how many times it will be shared.”   24
  26. 26. COMPANY SNAPSHOT: HONEST TEAGiving the audience what it wantsAsk small-turned-big beverage company Honest Tea what has been one of the mostchallenging aspects of talking about its sustainable mission on social media? Engaging, notalienating customers. “We don’t just want to be a bug in their ear and posting about ourselvesall the time, ‘try our product, try our product.’ We want to add value,” says Samme Menke,former PR Manager at Honest Tea.News an Audience Can UseAdding value means aligning with customer values, posting articles and events about organicfood, fair trade, the environment and health. “We post stuff like, ‘Your kids are going back toschool. Here are some eco-friendly school supplies.’”Honest Tea also mentions the ongoing donations it makes to local organizations, but not in adirect way. “The issues highlighted are “so much larger than us just serving our drink there,”says Menke. “We wouldn’t normally post, ‘We just donated X number of bottles.’” Instead, thecompany promotes the partner. “Our friends at Bethesda green are hosting this event. Youshould check it out.”Frank Discussion Pays OffHonest Tea says consumers are its most important social mediaaudience. And those consumers can be both committed allies andscathing critics. That’s why Honest Tea has chosen to tackle toughissues head-on. In its 2011 Mission Report the company outlinesits successes in creating new organic products sourced from fairtrade suppliers. But it doesn’t shy away from a frank discussion ofthe fact that it’s trying to be a sustainable company while sellingindividual drinks in plastic and glass bottles. “With Honest Tea’s2010 sales of more than 100 million units, we have likely contributedtens of millions of bottles to the waste stream,” states the report.“If you never talked about it, only said, we’re organic we’re fair trade, low in sugar, ouremployees volunteer at A Wider Circle, you would be missing a really huge part of our impacton the environment,” says Special Projects Manager Kelly Cardamone. “I think peopleappreciate the fact that we’re willing to put ourselves out there and say that we don’t have asolution either.”That level of transparency gives Honest Tea a jumping off point to talk about what it IS doing toreduce packaging and energy consumption. In a nod to sustainability, new media and dialogue,the mission report was published online at Tumblr.com. It features video, like buttons and theability for readers to post comments. The company has promised to respond to comments andupdate the report throughout the year.Such open dialogue can win over skeptics and create fierce advocates, as was the case whenHonest Tea was sold to mega-company Coca Cola in March 2011. Founder Seth Goldmanblogged repeatedly about the sale and even spoke in the media about pressure from Coca Colato remove its “no high fructose corn syrup” label on Honest Kids drinks. “It elicited this huge   25
  27. 27. dialogue on the New York Times web site from readers who are really passionate about HonestTea...and larger companies and smaller companies joining together and whether they have thesame mission,” says Kelly Cardamone, Special-Tea Projects Manager.Crafting unique engagement pointsHonest Tea is always looking for ways to promote both its products and its CSR messages. Itsnewest campaign is the “Great Recycle,” which the company calls “a national call-to-action toboost recycling.” A 30-foot recycle bin starts in Times Square and moves to other cities with agoal to recycle 45,000 beverage containers in each 10-hour event. Social media elementsinclude a chance to earn redeemable points on Facebook, a heavily promoted Twitter hashtagand a humorous video of an Honest Tea bottle trying to make it into a recycle bin.In July 2011 the company carried out a public social experiment called Honest Cities, whereunmanned displays featured Honest Tea drinks available for a dollar on the honor system.Chicago was named the “most honest city,” with 99 per cent of people paying for their drinks.Honest Tea then extended the campaign by asking Facebook fans to vote for three charitiesthat should receive the proceeds plus a matching grant from the company, about $10,000 intotal. Cross-promoting the campaign through the web site, social media and video raised brandawareness, doubled Facebook fans and increased sales. It resulted in 330 media placementsand $3.4 million in ad value.A simple concept with a big impact for the company and its nonprofit partners. “At the core itcame down to, ‘Are you honest or not?’ It wasn’t polarizing or too specific,” says Cardamone. “Itwas really human.”   26
  28. 28. COMPANY SNAPSHOT: VIRGINIA SPINE INSTITUTEVideo storytelling to highlight impactThere’s a reason why YouTube is among the top online searchengines. People love video. According to YouTube’s early 2012statistics, over four billion videos are viewed each day and theplatform has more than 800 million unique visitors each month.viiWhile coming up with a video that will go viral is rare, SMEs aresmart to harness the visual and emotional appeal of video to telltheir stories.The Virginia Spine Institute is making video a key part of itsbusiness and CSR communication strategies. “We’re not sellingwidgets,” says Marketing Director Erin Orr, of the private health carecenter in Reston, VA which focuses on spinal care. “There’s an emotional side to what we’redoing and a lot of times we feel that comes across best in the video. The connections, allowingpeople to see who our doctors are, who our team is, what they’re doing.” Virginia Spine Institute has created more than two dozen videos which are featured on its web site and a YouTube channel. In some, doctors explain the work and approach of the Institute. Others star patients, called “Spinal Champions,” who have successfully been treated. The testimonials put a human face on serious spinal injuries or the seemingly mundane – back pain that leaves healthy people suddenly immobile. One patient describes not wanting to go on with life after suffering the pain caused by wrenching her back while reaching for her cat. “I think that other patients have connected through those. It’s one thing to put it in writing where you read, ‘Johnny had this problem and had the surgery and had this outcome,’ but to see them in their environment and to hear them talking about it is pretty powerful.”On the CSR side, the Institute has used video to promote a 5K race it sponsors to raise moneyfor national spinal research. Like a news crew, it “covered” the event, collecting interviews withNFL stars and other one-time patients who were now able to run pain-free. It posted theresulting video quickly after the race, generating measurable hits. “It’s one thing to hear that ithappened or to see pictures, but to see people talking about how this great community eventraised the awareness and the funds...it makes it more real,” says Orr.Real people telling their own stories. It’s a model that can be translated to other businesses,even those not treating debilitating injury. The trick to creating emotion is to focus on the issueyou’re solving and the impact you’re having. The result will be video content that can beshared, picked up by media, and create higher visibility in search engines.   27
  29. 29. CONCLUSIONThis collection of opinions from a dozen small business leaders in one major market is anopportunity to hear directly from the kinds of people who every day are making decisions onhow to communicate about their businesses.As told in the preceding pages, they are certain of their ability to make a difference in theircommunity. Whether and how to talk about that impact is less clear. Even more confusing isthe fast-changing world of social media as a business and CSR communications tool. It’shoped that the challenges, successes and best-practices described here-in will offer insight andinspiration to the small business community. >>> <<<ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tracey Wright is a Fellow with Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication. She has a Masters in Professional Studies, PR/Corporate Communications from Georgetown University and a BA in Journalism and Communications from the University of Regina, Canada. Tracey received Georgetown’s 2010 Social Impact Award for "demonstrating the highest commitment to creating positive social change as a communicator." As a volunteer Tracey has donated her storytelling skills to produce strategic content for nonprofits. On the job she has been a senior network television producer and reporter, covering national and international stories from Washington, DC and Ottawa, Canada.ABOUT THE CENTERGeorgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) is the nation’sleading educational resource on social impact communication. Launched in 2008 and housed inthe Master of Professional Studies program in Public Relations and Corporate Communications,CSIC aims to elevate the discipline by pioneering industry standards in responsiblecommunication practices and by educating and inspiring the professionals who lead the way increating positive social impact through their work. For more information, visithttp://csic.georgetown.edu.   28
  30. 30. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank the following companies and organizations for their frank and thoughtfulparticipation:Acuity Inc.Alliance for Workplace ExcellenceAronson LLCBetterWorld TelecomBusiness Civic Leadership Center, US Chamber of CommerceChaney EnterprisesCone CommunicationsHodgson ConsultingHonest TeaLeadership Greater WashingtonOptimal NetworksOPX GlobalPotomac PizzaReznick GroupSoupergirlVirginia Spine InstituteWeber Shandwick   29
  31. 31. APPENDIX | Interview Questions for SMEs 1. What values drive your company? 2. Think about your most important relationships – customers, your employees, the community. How do you put your values into practice? 3. Why motivates CSR at your business? 4. What impact have you seen, both on your stakeholders and your business? Has there been an “aha” moment where you’ve seen your values in action? 5. Who drives socially responsible activities in your organization? 6. In general, how do you communicate with your stakeholders? 7. How big a role does the internet play in your communications? 8. What CSR practices do you communicate about? 9. What is the reason you do or do not communicate about your socially responsible activities? 10. Who is your most important audience for CSR communication? 11. How do you frame your CSR practices? 12. What communication tools do you use? 13. How often do you communicate about socially responsible and sustainable activities? 14. How do you use social media tools? 15. Why or why not use them? 16. What challenges have you faced using social media? 17. What benefits have you seen or could you expect from using social media to communicate with your stakeholders about your company values?   30
  32. 32.                                                                                                                i http://www.edelman.com/insights/special/GoodPurpose2010globalPPT_WEBversion.pdfii http://www.coneinc.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/0/2fcb9351e2bea95addb6c4413bcf39a4/files/2011_cone_echo_cr_opportunity_study.pdfiii http://2020workplace.com/blog/?p=447iv http://www.centercorporatecitizenship.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewPage&pageID=2166&nodeID=1v http://www.burson-marsteller.com/Innovation_and_insights/blogs_and_podcasts/BM_Blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=170vi Nearly half of SMEs use social media to market to customers, according to a September 2011 survey of 1,180businesses by Zoomerang. http://www.zoomerang.com/blog/2011/09/08/new-survey-results-nearly-half-smbs-utilize-social-media-marketingSocial media use has risen the past three years, with nearly all small businesses now aware of social media tools anda third using them, concludes a January 2012 survey by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s RobertH. Smith School of Business. However, it also reports that the number of businesses who say that social media isnot meeting their expectations has increased to 36% from 26% last year.http://www.networksolutions.com/smallbusiness/wp-content/files/State_of_Small_Business_Report_Wave_5.pdf?channelid=P99C425S627N0B142A1D38E0000V100The payback from time spent on social media is higher for small business: new partnerships, improved sales,reduced marketing costs, and increased exposure, states a 2011 Social Media Marketing Report by online magazine“Social Media Examiner.” http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/tag/2011-social-media-industry-report/vii http://www.youtube.com/t/press_statistics           31