How CSR Plus PR adds up to a Brand Reputation Boost
By Maureen Brennan
Consumers and employees alike prefer organizations whose missions reflect their own values. Here’s how well-publicized benevolence can engender loyalty internally and externally.
“Do well by doing good.”
This adage has never been more possible—nor more important—to follow than it is today.
In today’s climate, brands attract consumer loyalty—and do well—when they connect values to action. A 2019 PR and Corporate Social Responsibility Survey found that nearly three-fourths of people are more likely to engage with an organization that supports an issue they believe in.
Simply doing good doesn’t mean people will know about it. Public relations comes into play here as a powerful tool to bring awareness to CSR efforts and build brand reputation.
The strategic communication of a CSR story can shed more favorable light on your brand than ever before, resulting in a lasting impression. The right story, however, doesn’t come to life without employing PR best practices.
Here are three top tips:
Take an authentic stance.
A feigned stance on a social issue will backfire. Not only will people notice (just ask Volkswagen), but such disingenuity can devastate a brand’s reputation. Authentic storytelling ranks high across all PR best practices, but it is crucial when narrating your brand’s corporate social responsibility story. To ensure authenticity, think first about your organization’s core values and mission, and then center your CSR efforts around those. This approach is not only strategic, it is believable, which will help make your public commitment to a particular cause that much more influential.
Take Domino’s Paving for Pizza initiative, for example. In 2018, the pizza chain announced partnerships with U.S. cities to restore road potholes, tying back to the company’s dedication to delivering delicious—and intact—pizzas. This initiative stayed true to Domino’s mission, allowing for a convincing story that forged stronger relationships with customers.
Be consistent with messaging.
A company expanding into CSR is a strong, captivating media angle. To best communicate the effort, distribute carefully crafted press materials to inform and engage journalists. Each communication should share background on the issue and your desired impact. The most effective CSR communications will not tout your brand directly, but rather firmly focus on the social changes you’re aiming to achieve.
Additionally, consistent messaging within each communication is essential to ensure all audiences tuning in will get a clear picture of your CSR story. This will also help you crystalize the information necessary to make a real impact. Developing a consistent brand persona is a PR best practice that adds credibility and positions a brand as a reliable resource. Through consistent messaging, media outlets are more likely to tap your brand for expertise on a given subject for future stories.
Shine a spotlight.
CSR industry award opportunities are great ways to highlight your initiatives externally and boost company morale internally. A major industry award program includes PR Daily’s Corporate Social Responsibility Awards. Entering an awards program emphasizes the importance of the cause your brand is championing and showcases the impact of your efforts.
An award win is in the same vein as a third-party endorsement. It establishes credibility, adds trust and extends messaging to new audiences. An award win or honorable mention also excites employees and motivates them to continue doing good works.
So, as you roll up your sleeves and begin preparing your approach to CSR, remember the right story is possible with the correct PR practices in place.
Maureen Brennan is senior vice president of public relations at The Motion Agency.