On this year’s #GivingTuesday – an annual, global day of giving celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving – Linhart PR hosted a panel discussion on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) organized by PRSA Colorado’s Young Professionals group.
Why and how should your organization make CSR a year-round focus beyond #GivingTuesday? Research shows that CSR is not only top of mind for young consumers, but it also influences their purchase behavior. According to a study from Cone Communications, 94 percent of Gen Zers believe companies should help address social and environmental issues, and 89 percent indicated they would rather buy from a company supporting social and environmental issues over one that does not.
Consequently, we should be prepared to advocate, consult, guide and communicate CSR efforts and initiatives for our clients or organization, especially when targeting younger consumers. Here are six CSR tips and insights from the panel discussion:
1. Research your audiences and identify what each participant (brand, nonprofit, celebrity partners, the venue, etc.) stands to gain through becoming involved in your CSR initiative. Understanding all of the players will help you demonstrate and communicate why alignment through a campaign or event makes sense.
2. The most successful cause marketing events and campaigns are often organic — meaning they bring the brand’s mission to life in real and authentic ways. It’s important for companies to walk the walk in the communities where they work and live.
3. In times of crisis, political turmoil and natural disaster, brands must take care to prevent CSR campaigns from becoming self-promotional. Don’t be tone deaf! Focus on the solution, not the deed, and make helping your main concern, rather than telling your story.
4. CSR isn’t about numbers, metrics and analytics – it’s about people. As a PR/communications pro, encourage your client or organization to tell the story, mission or cause from the perspective of those benefiting or being impacted, rather than through the lens of the brand.
5. If your client or organization leads with its mission, or makes its cause the main priority, customers will follow.
6. A brand’s authenticity and commitment to CSR is truly measured in times of hardship – e.g. financial instability – than in good times.
And, in the spirit of CSR and giving, we’re proud to say that proceeds from event registration were donated to the PRSA Foundation, which is currently raising $10,000 to support diversity in the public relations field by providing scholarships to deserving multi-ethnic students studying public relations.