For some consumers, a great product isn’t enough. When given an option, they’ll choose something from companies whose social purposes align with their values. Based on content during PRNEWS’ Media Relations Virtual Event, this trend isn’t going anywhere.
So, what qualifies as corporate social responsibility (CSR)? Sometimes, it’s a social or environmental cause that a company supports, even if there’s no apparent link to its identity, culture or values. Unfortunately, this is not a sustainable model.
For example, let's say a company espouses the importance of Women’s History Month (WHM). It sends a percentage of sales to a charity that promotes women. On the other hand, the donor company lacks female board members or women senior executives; its WHM effort likely will ring hollow. That’s why the best CSR campaigns align with company culture. It’s critical that CSR be something your brand lives.
Another way to say this: Consumers want authentic brands.
For example, Patagonia, the outdoor clothing firm, took on climate change because a love of nature inspired the company's founding. Another example, a company whose business includes removing junk from computers shot this video that inspires people to avoid littering.
If you’re struggling to find a cause, look internally. You might be surprised to hear about your team’s passions. Taking on a challenge that’s meaningful to employees will show. It's likely that the public will feel your employees’ excitement for the cause and may take notice of the brand.
The Importance of CSR
When your company's attributes drive CSR, other positive side effects may accrue:
- It raises trust
Edelman’s Trust Baromter says 85 percent of consumers buy products that solve their problems. But 80 percent prefer a product that solves society’s problems. This means you gain a consumer’s trust with a great product and standing for an issue.
- Supports the community and invites others to join
Talk to the right audience and invite it to be a part of your initiative. If it aligns with their concerns, then you’re taking care of the issues they’re worried about and inviting them to join your brand to be part of the solution.
Tips When Starting Your Campaign
Before you start a CSR campaign, consider the following:
- Have versatile goals
Metrics can help define the success of your project. As you plan, think about:
- Social purpose: What’s the social change you’re trying to effect?
- Marketing goals: Whom do you want to hear about your initiative, and what do you want her to know?
- Product goals: What are you hoping to accomplish?
- Brand goals: How does this initiative align with and support your business’ goals and company values?
- Know your audience
Don’t focus only on your goals. Understand your audience, what it wants, what will attract it to your cause.
- Be thoughtful about your promotion channels
Again, knowing who your audience is will help inform the type of media outlets you should pitch for coverage. In addition, it will help you decide your social reach, both in thematic groups and paid advertising.
Social responsibility isn’t just another feel-good buzzword. It’s something that can do good and has measurable benefits. Moreover, it can make all the difference in converting a customer. And not just a new customer, but an existing customer who has become more excited about your product and is even more brand loyal than previously.
Julia Petryk is head of PR at MacPaw