Why CSR Programs Should be Part of Your Crisis-Planning Efforts

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Scott Sobel, SVP, Crisis & Litigation, kglobal

Most PR clients, and especially major corporations and other larger institutions, concentrate on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs to influence important stakeholders when times are stable.

There’s a growing trend among brands that are considering CSR scenario planning to prevent or mitigate crises. The creation of CSR relative to crisis planning should be undertaken with delicate precision.
Authenticity is Critical
Of course, CSR programs can result in disaster if your target audiences smell hypocrisy, a cover-up or greed as motivation. Crisis managers should be cautious but also prudent because, if executed effectively, CSR is an investment in crisis prevention in that it can build valuable relationships and goodwill when times are stable. CSR can also be used to mitigate ill-will after a crisis explodes.

Working with members of Congress, state governments and schools to collaborate with a brand on CSR programs that reach tens of thousands of students and constituents has demonstrated the benefits of such efforts. For example, CSR creates personal relationships with politicians and regulators. Those bonds help portray brands as a good corporate citizens that deserve the benefit of the doubt when a high-profile accident occurs. Relationships with news media were also strengthened.
Creating community CSR programs where corporations support police and first responders positions brands in a space where stakeholders, consumers and the news media recognize companies’ good intentions and community concern. This can offset questions of credibility and sincerity during public controversies.


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