What is CSR?
‘A PR stunt…’
‘Being environmentally friendly’
‘Selling sustainable goods’
‘Common Structural Rules?’
The abbreviation in this case stands for corporate social responsibility. Its definition is one amongst debate, but to put it simply CSR strategies are those that aim to show consumers and/or clients that the company is doing something positive for the environment and is taking responsibility for its actions. There is a spectrum starting from simply abiding rules and regulations and finishing at acting as part of the community and companies themselves decide how far they want to go.
Some companies are built on a strong CSR basis and instead of being supplementary to their everyday business practices they form the basis for business around being sustainable and ‘giving back’ to the community in which they operate.
Why is it relevant to PR?
We all agree that one of the roles of a PR professional is a responsibility for communicating a brands message to stakeholders. Therefore, if the brand you represent takes part in CSR then it is up to you to enter the balancing act that is telling consumers enough but not overloading them with information so that they question the company’s intentions.
What do the cynics say?
Cynics argue that CSR is purely a PR stunt aimed at ‘greenwashing’ consumers into thinking they are environmentally friendly when they aren’t. Agreeably they are brilliant media opportunities and look ‘good’ in articles and on the company website. Be warned, shallow intentions will be obvious and may do more damage to your reputation than good.
There are positives however…
As well as the benefits for the society in which you are operating, in a truly competitive market place a strong CSR focus could differentiate your business from competitors however it is essential to communicate the messages effectively and to ensure that you are taking part in CSR for the right reasons and not just because every other business is on the bandwagon.
How can it be integrated with the current PR plan in place?
The methods in place are already there to get your message out about your business. One of the easiest ways to get the message out there is to write a news story for your corporate website then tweet the link directing traffic to the website. If your CSR has a benefit to the local community why not approach the local paper? If it is on a national scale then approach the national papers. To communicate the message within the organisation, ensure to put an article into the company newsletter or magazine.
It doesn’t have to be expensive
CSR can range from employees giving up their time to volunteer at a local charity or helping out at a local school right across the spectrum to the company donating a large percentage of profits to a good cause. There are many ways for companies to be socially responsible and a large portion of them are free.
About the Author
Carli Ann Smith is an avid user of social media, a third year PR and Marketing Student at the University of Lincoln in the UK and a self confessed geek. Her blog ‘Scary World of Business’ can be found here and she can also be found on Twitter: @Carlir6
- Is CSR A Helpful Tool? (benefitpoint.wordpress.com)
- Integrated Market Communication as a CSR communication strategy (sriportfolio.wordpress.com)
- The evolution of CSR (impact.webershandwick.com)