In this cynical age, it’s very easy for media to dismiss or disparage CSR news exclusives and releases as “soft,” highly prejudicial information that do little but act as advertorials. For PR professionals specializing in this field, the question is—how do you dispel the stereotypes about your CSR news and make them stand out from the pack? You may not have to strong-arm anyone for coverage but you are going to have to do some major courting to generate attention. Here are 8 tips you might want to follow:
1. Be transparent. Show both sides of a corporate face. For example, reveal factory violations and what you’re doing about it.
2. Provide context. Relate how your company’s CSR approach creates financial (such as cost reductions) and non-financial (such as community strengthening) value. Map it to news and trends. Support with metrics where possible.
3. Offer exclusives. Provide an exclusive CSR case study. Make it applicable.
4. Make news. Disseminate progress updates in interim news reports just like quarterly financials. Train senior management and the board on the firm’s CSR strategy so they can readily speak on it.
5. Be accessible. Set up a CSR Web site and blog on what you’re doing and why. Allow stakeholder comments.
6. Get seen. Embed links and buzzwords into electronic copy leading readers to the CSR section of the corporate Web site.
7. Conduct testing. Invite journalists to review and comment on CSR strategy, press releases and reports.
8. Win a CSR award. Then, get the results published.
These tips were excerpted from an article written by Susan Nickbarg, principal of CSR consultancy SVN Marketing, which appeared in PR News' 2006 Guide to Best Practices in Corporate Social Responsibility. Buy it online at http://www.prnewsonline.com. Nickbarg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.