The 24-hour media cycle puts brands and organisations under greater scrutiny than ever before. Companies are now expected to go above and beyond the profit incentive and to give back to society. In many ways people now expect organisations to set an example to others.
In this age it has never been so important for organisations to be pro-active and create genuine and valuable Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. Businesses that carry out ethical practices and contribute towards the betterment of society will boost consumer confidence and levels of trust.
Through CSR, enterprises can significantly contribute to the wider objectives of global governments and NGOs in achieving sustainable development and a competitive social market economy. Some simple ways a company can produce a genuinely effective CSR programme are as follows:
- Business-related social purpose: The CSR programme should have an affinity with the business, relating to its core fundamentals and forming a real strategic connection with the brand. Careful consideration should be paid to ensure the ‘right fit’.
- Clear and distinguishable programme: The importance of CSR has been recognised by so many companies that it is now important to create a programme that is unique from others. Considering your plan carefully will mean you avoid using a ‘cookie cutter’ approach – instead creating a unique campaign that will provide real value and generate positive response from your target audiences.
- Long-term vision: CSR should be a well-considered and consistent strategy. This means long-term vision and partnerships rather than thinking just in terms of a single campaign. Continuously switching causes and allegiances makes it difficult for consumers to understand what you stand for, with more well-established CSR programmes having a tendency to return significant value for all partners involved.
- Partner with a third party: Forming an alliance with a non-profit organisation will provide added credibility to the programme; you will benefit from your partner’s greater experience in fundraising and philanthropy and build networks. The non-profit should be a vocal partner to the brands you work with – a partnership conducted on an equal footing will naturally develop more collaboration in the long run, ultimately resulting in a strong and healthy programme.
- Gain publicity: In order for the CSR programme to gain attention, it is important to engage with the media. Reach out to relevant media outlets with press releases – channels targeted should be carefully considered and relevant to the initiative in order to achieve widespread and positive coverage.