So it isn’t really rocket science to get PR coverage for your CSR programs. All you need is a PR company with good press connections and you can get a story in at least a few publications. The problem is, if your story isn’t written and positioned smartly, readers tend to zone out and over time your message becomes invisible. Even worse they are so irked by the promotional tone of your messages that they will label everything you do in future a marketing ploy.
As common as this issue is, few business leaders take steps to address it. It is a sad truth that many in-depth and effective CSR programs do not get enough traction because despite having massive PR budgets, they fail to touch the stakeholders at a visceral level.
So the question is; what can companies do to make sure that their messages don’t seem boastful and pretentious. Below are some of the practical ways to make that happen.
It’s all in the Copy:
Typically the PR of a company is handled by one single entity whether in-house or outsourced. It is important that the messages regarding CSR communication is not crafted by people working on business PR messaging. Copywriters are often trained to write in a certain tone of voice which is relatively emotionless and dry so as to seem impartial. The problem with this approach is that it does not connect with people and does not create a visceral reaction. Can’t afford to switch copywriters? Include at least one story or personal statement in all your PR stories and request the copywriter to use an informal but professional tone.
Don’t Put the Cherry ahead of the Cake:
CSR is about responsible business practices. It is about taking business decisions that impact the society and the business positively. A company truly committed to CSR should never rush to make lofty claims when all they have is one lone CSR program. It is important to communicate your successes but only after there is enough evidence that firstly, you are in a long term committed relationship with this cool chick called CSR and secondly, there is enough data and proven evidence that your program is in fact making a positive change. Rushing to make the front page can be counter-productive.
Impact AND effectiveness
Most often companies only talk about the impact and reach of an initiative. For example a typical statement goes something like “we have reached 1,000 unemployed people through our training programs”. While it is valuable to see how many people your program has impacted, the stakeholders also want to know how effective your program was in addressing the core issue. They would also want to know whether your proposed solution is addressing the issue at its roots or is only serving as a band aid for a much deeper wound. A better statement would be “We trained 1,000 unemployed people in computer usage and business writing. Within only two months of the training, 150 of these people have been employed and 52 have started their own businesses”
Show the progression
People, heck even children get tired of listening to the same thing over and over again and companies in their eagerness to remain “top of mind” often regurgitate the same figures and stories. The result: readers don’t even bother reading the story anymore. Even though facts make for a convincing read, in CSR, the real proof is in the year-to-year progression and the different phases of maturity the program goes through. In short, make sure each new story takes your CSR journey a step further.
What are the different ways you make your CSR message more eloquent and less douchy?