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Creating a win-win CSR campaign

The UAE is a rare and perfect example of a CSR-driven nation. The humanitarian vision of our leaders, particularly His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has inspired the launch of numerous initiatives that are designed to enrich the country’s social and philanthropic activities, including the ‘Year of Giving 2017’, the national ‘UAE Volunteers’ platform and the upcoming ‘Year of Zayed 2018’. Charity is an essential part of the UAE’s culture, stretching well beyond Ramadan to encompass year-round efforts, and in this inspiring and community-spirited environment, I believe it is all the more imperative that organisations embrace Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The impact of CSR is usually divided into three levels. The first level is a basic one that involves organisations paying their taxes, observing the law, and conducting their business fairly. The second exists at the organisational level, where companies minimise their negative effects and act as the spirit of the law. The third level is the one which concerns us because it describes organisations that embrace their social responsibility to alleviate suffering and support communities.

The balancing act with this type of CSR is to marry impactful activities that have meaningful results for society, with a clients’ business strategy and goals. With all of our other PR activities, we are focused on delivering real results for our clients, and this is equally important when creating CSR programmes. This requires PR professionals to think cleverly about how to pair clients with the right charities, how to align their philosophies, and how to create a mutually beneficial situation where both the client and the charity are supported by the campaign.

According to the American writer, Henry David Thoreau “Goodness is the only investment that never fails”, and in the next part of my blog, I will explore how we can create win-win CSR campaigns that deliver ROI while also achieving wider societal goals.

In my previous blog, I touched on the importance of creating win-win CSR programmes that have a measurable impact, because after all, good PR is focused on delivering real results for clients.

But how can we create a strategy that achieves business objectives while also supporting society? I would like to use a recent example from one of our clients – Deliveroo – which we helped to launch a Ramadan CSR programme in partnership with Emirates Red Crescent. The campaign raised AED 136,000 for the charity, while Deliveroo benefited from heightened exposure, an enhanced reputation and a new level of engagement with the community at this important time of year.

How did we create this success?

  • Assessing business objectives: All good CSR campaigns begin with assessing client objectives, and during Ramadan, Deliveroo wanted to stand out from the competition, reach out to the community, and position itself as a socially responsible company.
  • Identifying community needs: It is also essential to get to the heart of how your client can best answer community needs with its services. During Ramadan, the community gathers to share suhour and iftar with the needy, and as Deliveroo is a food delivery service, it is perfectly positioned to contribute to these efforts.
  • Aligning philosophies: It is important to create an affinity between your client and the charity. For this reason, we partnered food delivery service Deliveroo with Emirates Red Crescent, which as part of its charity activities provides meals to needy individuals across the UAE.
  • Bringing in the community: Community involvement is crucial to the success of CSR campaigns. Deliveroo already has a user-friendly platform, which we put to good use by offering customers the opportunity to donate meals to Emirates Red Crescent with each order they placed. This brought customers into the campaign and made them feel part of the cause.
  • Amplifying the campaign: Getting the word out is where PR professionals excel; we issued press releases and features to the media, generating significant coverage for Deliveroo, while also taking to social media to encourage people to give back by ordering via the platform.
  • Measuring the results: As a result of our efforts, we not only raised a significant amount of money for Emirates Red Crescent but also received a flood of positive consumer feedback for Deliveroo, which saw its sales increase as people discovered a unique opportunity to give back.

The key to a successful CSR campaign, in my opinion, is to find the right balance between the client’s and the community’s immediate needs and to devise short-term projects that the media and community can get behind and that have a measurable impact. CSR campaigns are a win-win in this way – they boost client reputation, and even sometimes the bottom line, while also doing good for the UAE and the world.


Reem Masswadeh is Account Director at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations. An independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai and offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA. |