Best Research Practices for Sustainability Initiatives and other Corporate Social Responsibility Programs

Know before you go: Do not design CSR programs in a vacuum. Know the salience of your strengths and weaknesses and design around them. CSR programs and messaging that are not guided by strategy will not pay dividends.

Use your core: In order to be efficient, CSR programs must have synergy with your core attributes (those that directly relate to your business). Tailoring your communications appropriately and matching them to your organization’s key strengths helps to develop credibility and trust, and ultimately, your good reputation. Core strengths can be leveraged to offset weaknesses that drive reputation down.

Stand out from the crowd
: In a cluttered marketplace, environmental and other CSR initiatives can allow companies with comparable core products or services to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

The environment is not the only sustainability issue
: Sometimes environment is just not the correct fit for your core attributes. Consider what other soft issues may be a better fit and therefore pay higher dividends.

Consider all of the benefits of sustainability initiatives: In addition to a reputational boost, environmental or other sustainability initiatives can increase employee engagement, improve relationships with environmental groups & NGOs and do good for the communities in which you operate.

This is excerpted from PR News upcoming Guide to Best Practices in Corporate Social Responsibility and Green PR, Volume 3. These tips were authored by Trent Ross, a senior vice president and global head of the reputation and risk management research practice with the public affairs division of Ipsos North America, based in Washington, D.C.  To find out more information about the guidebook or how to order it, check back periodically with