Corporate Social Responsibility

The cover story on this month’s issue of PR Tactics is about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This can vary from food drives, volunteering to pro-bono work or recycling. There should benefits for both the community and the company. Three tips discussed in the article are as follows:

1. Commit and Lead: One of the most important steps for companies in terms of CSR is identifying values in the community that match those of the company.  For example, Ben & Jerry’s was founded on the principle that “business has a responsibility to give back to the community.”

“It’s a matter of definition and focus. If you don’t have that management commitment, there can be a mismatch between community expectations and what you do in CSR,” says Robert Grupp, president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations.

2. Listen and Learn: After establishing the values that match both the community and the company, you must also be on the lookout for issues in the community that need addressing. CSR can be a great learning experience for the company, so you must embrace it.

3. Communicate: No matter what the scope of the social responsibility, it is important to communicate the CSR to both your employees and your audience. Once the values and the social issues have been determined, it is time to communicate them. Include them on the company website and social media networks, along with writing reports on a constant basis of the progress.

One challenge with CSR is the thin, sometimes blurry line between promoting the company and promoting the community. Another is measuring the success of CSR. It is difficult to determine whether physical outputs and emotional results should be given the same weight.

So how is corporate social responsibility important? Liz Brenna “PR Chick” from Ben & Jerry’s asks, “How isn’t it important?”

Sources: “Socially conscious: Companies share CSR best practices” by Amy Jacques and “Do the right thing: Measuring the effectiveness of Corporate Social Responsibility” by Susan Balcom Walton and Brad Rawlins, both in the July 2010 issue of PR Tactics.

So how is corporate social responsibility important? As Liz Brenna “PR Chick” from Ben & Jerry’s says, “How isn’t it important?”

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