I have to admit, ever since I began covering Corporate Social Responsibility issues close to three years ago when I started as editor of PR News, I’ve been somewhat skeptical.
I questioned whether organizations really give back, help their own communities and people around the world—while tying it all to the business bottom line. After all, the bottom line is what matters most. I began to think most companies were just paying lip service to CSR.
But on the last day of the PRSA International Conference here in San Francisco, my outlook on CSR is changing. It started on the opening day on Sunday, when Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, serial entrepreneur and one who defines the phrase “cool nerd,” gave his views on CSR—or rather “CSI” as he terms it—corporate social innovation. “CSR sounds so ball and chain,” said Stone during his keynote. He’s right about that.
Stone believes giving back is going to be a main pillar of business going forward, and I tend to believe him. The secret? “Just have your products and services have a meaningful impact on people,” said Stone.
Of course, for some companies, that’s easier said than done. I’ve found some CSI efforts to be forced. And it’s pretty easy to believe someone like Biz Stone, who has plenty of dollars to give back.
Then, today I attended a session led by brand builders Citizen Paine, where its CEO, Daryl McCullough, managing director Joe Cronin and Daniel Lemin, owner of Social Studio, showed examples of their award-winning work with big brands.
A Duracell campaign in partnership with the NFL—Trust Your Power—stands out. The effort features NFL players in the communities in which they play—like Atlanta Falcon Roddy White, who enrolled in an Atlanta high school for a day. A camera followed White as he participated in school activities while handing out battery packs and calculators to the students. Of course, the student’s own battery powered electronic devices recorded the action as well.
Along with these live appearances by NFL players that create buzz, fans can tweet with the #TrustYourPower hashtag or share a story of trusting their power on Duracell’s Facebook page. With each story, Duracell gives $1 to provide disadvantaged youth scholarships to ProCamps.
The beauty of the ongoing campaign: The Duracell brand’s presence isn’t overt, and isn’t forced.
I believe this is the key to “CSI” success.
Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01