If a Company Does Good Things, but No One Hears About It, Does it Really Happen?
Last month, I wrote about why CSR matters for companies, nonprofits and employees right now. I thought it would be nice to dive a little into how you can let the public know about these great things your company is doing. It’s like the old saying goes, “If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is around to see it, did it really fall?” Similarly, if your company is doing great things in CSR, but no one knows about it, does it really happen?
Communicating your programs is key to getting all of the great ROI. This includes communicating both internally to your employees and externally to consumers. Let’s focus on the external communications of your programs to get consumers excited about working with or purchasing from your company.
Companies can showcase commitments to social and environmental causes with an annual CSR report – think a traditional annual report, but focused solely on the company’s CSR initiatives. These reports come in many forms, but lately, companies have started getting creative about the way they deliver this information. Back in May, TriplePundit released it’s list of the best 10 CSR reports for 2011. Topping the list was Nike’s interactive, Web-based 2011 Sustainability Report, which allows readers to jump to different sections of the report and narrow in on interesting information in a visually exciting way. Another innovative way to showcase your annual impact is through the use of infographics, or “information graphics” – which communicates data through graphic visual representation. An example of this is VolunteerMatch’s 2011 Annual Report – an entire year of impact in one visually enticing image.
Another, even bigger, way your company can show it’s commitment to CSR is by incorporating your company’s values right into the “fabric” of your. A phenomenal example of this is the “A Care Tag for Our Planet” partnership between Levi Strauss & Co. and Goodwill. On each pair of Levi’s jeans, the care tag actually instructs the wearer to wash the jeans in cold water and less frequently, line dry rather than use a dryer, and – the best part – to donate these jeans to Goodwill when they’re done wearing them. Levi’s shows it’s commitment to sustainability by literally “weaving” it into the products.
Another example of a company communicating its good works with its products is Newman’s Own. Paul Newman, founder of Newman’s Own products, committed to donating all profits of the sale of his products to charity, and the Newman’s Own Foundation continues this work today. On all Newman’s Own products it communicates this business model to inform consumers of the good work they can do by purchasing Newman’s Own products.
So, what if you’re just getting started? With a plethora of channels, social media is a great way to take the first steps in communicating your initiatives to the masses. One option to consider is a CSR-focused blog for your company. There are lots of great blog hosting solutions, like WordPress, that help to make the launch of a blog easy and user-friendly. Asking employees and company leadership is a great way to populate the blog with stories and information. Cisco, for example, has employees from different teams write guest posts about socially responsible projects they’ve been a part of through the company.
Facebook and Twitter are also great channels to get started, as many people are already actively participating in these channels. Tupperware uses Facebook to keep its customers up to date on the good works the company is doing in communities around the world. Finding a passionate executive or company spokesperson to serve as the voice of your CSR efforts is another great way to engage in social media. CSR executives such as Dave Stangis of Campbell’s Soup Company and Sue Stephenson of Ritz Carlton, tweet from corporate Twitter accounts to gain visibility.
To sum it up, we already know that CSR programs are good for your company, but to reap the benefits beyond the warm fuzzies, other people need to know about them. From full scale CSR reports to posting a 140 character tweet, the common thread in all of these methods and examples is that they are engaging, vibrant messages that keep individuals interested and wanting to learn more.