Communicating your CSR story is more important than ever. Think HQ provides five tips on how to create your organisation's CSR conversation.
In 2014 we saw continued growth in the adoption and practice of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) across the globe, and its varied forms – shared value, inclusive business, B Corporations and others – featuring more prominently in corporate and business communications.
This trend will no doubt continue in 2015, as businesses look to improve their economic performance in a climate that places increasing importance and corporate value on the impact a business has on people and planet.
For business communicators, this provides both a challenge and an opportunity to inform and engage key stakeholders in a conversation about your company’s CSR.
With the new year underway, it is a great time to consider how your company is engaging in the CSR journey, and particularly how it is communicating its CSR objectives and achievements.
Reporting vs storytelling
The practice of CSR reporting is vast and increasingly sophisticated, greatly enhanced by better data collection and analysis, innovative technology, and the desire for transparency. This means that CSR reporting is dominated by sums and statistics.
Whilst critical to the analysis of efficiency and effectiveness, a focus on numbers can also mean that we lose the essence of CSR value and meaning in our communications.
That’s the difference between reporting and storytelling. Telling your CSR story is a powerful way to convey both value and meaning, which is at the heart of affecting positive change.
Building a culture of CSR
The most effective CSR occurs when fully integrated within a business, and seen as a ‘culture’ rather than a ‘department’ and as core to company success economically, socially and environmentally.
How your business communicates their CSR can have a significant impact on how stakeholders engage with, and feel about, your company. It can also help to instill trust and meaningful satisfaction among employees – which is critical to creating a culture of caring and giving.
With this in mind, we present five great ways in which your business can effectively communicate the value and meaning of its CSR to stakeholders, beyond data and numbers.
1. Talk about the ‘WHY’
Too often, we focus on what we are doing and forget why we are doing it. It is important to share this story.
Bring people on the journey, and don’t lose sight of the vision and how it ties into your bigger picture business goals.
2. Be creative in presenting data
There are many ways to represent the numbers. Make yours engaging, interactive, and visually stimulating.
Do some research and consider the use of video, infographics, animation, and other creative formats.
3. Don’t forget the human element
Remember that effective CSR encompasses key pillars including human rights, ethics, community and workforce engagement.
The goal is to improve the lives of people, ensure a sustainable environment and provide those that work for you with a great sense of purpose and pride.
When talking about outcomes, don’t forget to convey how it has changed lives and improved communities. Consider case studies.
4. Use the voice of your stakeholders
In addition to providing your stakeholders with information, consider inviting feedback and creating a dialogue around your CSR activities and achievements.
There will be many people across the company that are involved in and/or touched by the CSR journey. Providing a dialogue that goes beyond the recipient story, offering a different perspective, will give meaningful interaction that links back to your business.
5. Utilise industry media
There are a number of industry publications (e.g. Probono News, Generosity magazine, Third Sector magazine, Fundraising and Philanthropy magazine) that are dedicated to the reporting and sharing of news pertaining to social and environmental change.
It may be worthwhile for your company, from a recruitment, marketing and investor relations perspective, to engage such media in telling your company’s CSR story.