What is CSR?
CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. There are a few definitions, but broadly speaking it’s the implementation of business practices, operations, commitments and procedures that focus on achieving a positive social, charitable or environment impact from the business or brand in question. For example, plant a tree schemes, charitable fundraising or product donations.
Where does it fit in PR?
CSR features in many a brainstorm, pitch deck and end of year review. Adding a charity partner or collaborating on campaigns with a positive CSR angle is a time-old tradition in the industry. So, let’s take a closer look at the different ways you can do it, how to do it well and also how to decide if it’s right for your brand.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that customers and employees care – which is half the battle:
- Over half (59%) of UK workers believe their business should invest in charitable initiatives.
- More than half (53%) of UK consumerswould never buy from a brand again if it was accused of working with unethical suppliers.
- 9 in 10 (88%) of global consumers surveyed would choose to buy from companies with ethical sourcing structures in place over ones that did not.
So, the audience insight is in, people do care if your brand engages in positive ethical, environmental and societal practices. But that doesn’t mean you should do just do it for the sake of it – we’ve all heard of greenwashing right! As with anything in PR it needs to be the right activity for your brand or business and one that will resonate with your audience. Authenticity is the key when it comes to CSR in public relations, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not, trust your gut on this one as it can turn soar fast and you don’t want to be dealing with a crisis because you got it wrong!
That being said it is a really important part of any PR strategy and one that can prove both rewarding and incredibly beneficial for a brand or business.
Now we’ve established that people care, and that you should approach with caution as to whether add CSR into your PR strategy, let’s take a look at some of the ways you might do it.
There are hundreds of different ways you can engage in CSR activity or incorporate it into your strategy and can often be categorised into a number of subsections; environmental, ethical/human rights, philanthropic and economic.
As an agency that specialises in Food & Drink, Sport and FMCG, here’s a few that are relevant to those sectors:
- Product donations – we work with a lot of electrical brands, so one possible way you can incorporate into your strategy is to donate product to charities and community organisations that will help them do their vital work. For example kitchen equipment to foodbanks and charities that provide hot meals for people in need.
- Monetary donations – this is often the most simple and common and is the easiest way to contribute to a charity or community organisation that is relevant to your brand or business. There’s three main ways of doing it, a one-off commitment or payment, simple as it sounds a gift of funds to help them continue work. Offering a percentage of profits or sales – picking a product range or commitment to a yearly percentage of profits that are donated to a charitable cause and finally fundraising – partaking in certain activities as a company or business to raise funds for a charitable organisation or cause.
- Environment and sustainability promises and commitments – make carbon neutral commitments, implement practices to reduce waste and your impact on the environment, offset any environmental impact by planting trees and so on. This is a simple way to show you’re committed to leaving a positive legacy on the world.
- Community engagement – volunteer your time and services to do good – if you’re a sports team, look at visiting children’s hospitals to cheer them up during hard times, offer your facilities and equipment for underprivileged children and adults to learn new skills and so on.
So, there you have it, there’s a whistlestop tour of CSR in PR. In a world where consumers are increasingly savvy and putting companies under a microscope, it’s incredibly important to develop and communicate an effect CSR strategy. It’s not only beneficial for your business or brand, but also helps the causes and organisation that you support as part of it, maybe making the world a little bit of a better place!
If you’d be interested in applying some of our knowledge and experience in this sector to your business and developing your very own strategy for effective CSR in public relations, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org