In a Media Age Where Most Everything Is a Gamble, CSR Remains a Safe Bet

Posted on August 14, 2013 
Filed Under Corporate Responsibility

Amidst the turbulence in marketing communications, one area seems a fairly safe harbor for PR professionals: corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Whether through RSS feeds or my own perusing, I forever spot surveys and studies showing the business benefits of having a robust CSR strategy.

The latest survey on CSR comes via Nielsen. It said that 50% of global consumers surveyed are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. That’s up from 45% from 2011.

And when you match current consumer sentiment with a sincere willingness among corporations to give back to charitable causes, my guess is that that percentage is on upward trajectory.

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, which was conducted early this year and took the pulse of more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries, found that the percentage of consumers willing to pay more increased among both males and females and across all age groups, with respondents under age 30 most likely to say they would spend more for goods and services from companies that give back.

Among consumers ages 40-44, 50% agree they would pay more, up from 38% two years ago.

Sure, many surveys have a pre-ordained quality and could be taken with a grain of salt.

But the constant stream of surveys showing peoples’ willingness to support charitable causes is difficult to dismiss, particularly when such surveys share very similar indices.

Even we before we started to pivot to a digital age, CSR was the domain of PR professionals. Now, amid the digital lurch and the scramble to prove the efficacy of social channels, CSR programs seem like a surefire way to demonstrate the value of PR.

Your audience isn’t going to do cartwheels about your latest Facebook post or online video streamed on LinkedIn. But they will get stoked (not to mention getting into purchase mode) if you can prove that CSR is a centerpiece of your corporate strategy.

In that vein, here are a few tips on a multi-channel approach to CSR, with a hat tip to Bobbie Wasserman, managing director of Wave2 Alliances.

> Text: Text is the “old school” of new media and remains the cornerstone of digital communications. The details of corporate CSR are housed in the annual report, micro-sites and dedicated blogs—all of which tend to be text driven—at least for now. However, using text to convey messages in an interactive digital environment is different.

> Image: For CSR stakeholders, pictures can convey numerous positive meanings. However, negative pictures can spread online like wildfire, another proof point for careful planning and message development.

> Video: Video offers companies a variety of communication options as a training library, corporate documentary vault, creative commercial originator, and credibility validator. For CSR initiatives, it is a “must have” for visual storytelling.

To learn more about CSR trends, check out PR News’ Corporate Social Responsibility Guidebook.

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1

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