Suhel Khan's Blog

A blog about mobile app development, tech sales, my rants and more..

What role corporate communication should play in Corporate social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives ?

At times we have noticed organization going overboard to highlight their CSR activities, how much or whether its at all necessary for a corporate use (misuse) CSR initiatives as way to do emotional branding. Help me figure it out..Share your thoughts on it..

This was the question i poised to fellow “networkers” on Linkedin. I thank all of them to take out time in answering the question and throw some light on this topic for others to learn. I am just posting the response that i received for it. If you wish to contact and converse these people directly then you can just click on there name to know more about them and if they wish you can also connect with them on Linkedin.

 The best answers “tag” goes to Richard A. Whipple of Crow Communications

Mr Khan;

Does the corporate citizenry tie to the business core? (Not all for profit clients have or require an extra social conscience programme component). If it does not, then kill it. It will degrade the corporate message while it reduces resources that could otherwise be allocated (especially during an economic downturn) to the core business. For-profit business may influence the government of the population constituency where it operates but it does not have to operate itself as a government agency to reside as a citizen. If it does, promote it within the corporation as a natural part of the business. Is the corporate citizenry progamme connected to the client philosophy? Then should not this be promoted by public relations through the departments of HR and Finance? (Let marketing communications stick to selling product, which is their core duty.)

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts to an important business question.
All the best,

Richard A. Whipple

PR Consulting in Sustainability, Linking Financial ROI Metrics to PR Management.
www.crowcommunications.com

Suhel,
Probably the biggest challenge to Corporate Social Responsibility is who should take the responsibility?
Once someone in the company takes the responsibility, the next biggest task to understand how the initiative maps to your company’s goals, and to justify the activity.
For instance, in my previous company marketing lead the effort since we took responsibility for things that we controlled like printing on recycled paper, minimizing printing overall, using vegetable-based inks, switching to recycled stock for product packaging and the overall reduction of packing material. Through this seemingly simple effort, we were able to reduce costs by up to 50%. Once we had this track record, we moved on to better recycling and reduced waste management costs, and now the corporate headquarters and US-based data centers are all 100% windmill powered.
With the cost reductions from our "greenification," we were able to fund a foundation that donates money to worthy causes on a quarterly basis.
All of this started in marketing, but there is now a group of people from across the company who are involved and it has become a great source of corporate morale and a part of the culture.
However, all of this information lives in the CSR section of the Website and is woven through the company’s marketing materials, but it isn’t what is used to sell the product. The key here is, social responsibility is something that makes a prospect feel good about doing business with you, and is a requirement in some RFPs, but there is a lot of "greenwashing" happening. So, leading with your CSR message can actually create doubt. It’s better to walk the walk, not talk the walk. If you are doing it right, your company can receive GreenE certification and even be listed on the EPA’s list of green companies.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.
Cheers,

Bob Berger

Principal, Enfuego Strategic Communications

 

Dear Suhel,
I was also going to give you an answer in the line of: "leading with your CSR message can actually create doubt. It’s better to walk the walk, not talk the walk". Nevertheless, in my past experiences as one of the promoters for CSR at my previous employment I would say that I always involved the PR/HR departments to help with the communicational aspects of any CSR. In this regards, we never started with marketing in mind but rather involving them in order to ensure and maximize communication within the stake holding group.
In addition, if a CSR is really strategic, marketing of the products/services will have to be involved as with any other commercial process.
Finally, whenever I thought about the communicational aspects, besides just facilitating communication I have always had in mind promoting positive externalities by letting potential stakeholders know about a CSR initiative.
Regards,

Gastón Bilder

International Legal Counsel – Community Relationships (gbilder(at)excite.com)

 

Hi Suhel,

I would like to draw your attention on a major aspect of CSR before i get down to address the question.
I have been watching this distressing trend from quite sometime that the corporate who initiate CSR activities are mostly those who have already done a considerable damage to the society & its resources. And when they go gungho about there social initiatives its mostly because they want to do an image correction. just to show that they "care".
I feel there should be a kind of a check by an autonomous body which looks into these kind of aspect and can draw a line on how to place these kind of information in the public media.And how we can go about it we need a detailed discussion on this.
Let me know when you are up for it.
Regards,

Amit Mishra
Sr. Internet Marketing Professional at Yash Technologies Pvt Ltd

Hi Suhel
CSR is an essential evolution in what is is to be a corporate body in this time, in this social and environmental era.
True poorly performing (wealthy) companies have often been at the forefront and claims of greenwash might have some justification. But at least they are laying down markers year on year against which they can be measured against their own performance and that of their competitors.
I do not think many go far enough or take the matter as seriously as they should. As customers, employees, shareholders, investors, regulators, governments and pressure groups all start to see the CSR agenda as more important, then it will only be those non monopoly businesses that excel in the area of CSR who will survive.
Business strategy and the ability to deliver on the strategy will always be the most important predictor of success but CSR will be an integral element of that strategy at the highest level, in marketing and communications.

Myles Mayne

Managing Director at Improved Prospects

 

I would like to thank everybody to take out time to answer this question and sharing your thoughts on this important aspect of corporate communication.

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One comment on “What role corporate communication should play in Corporate social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives ?

  1. Amit
    January 22, 2009

    Dear Suhel!
    Thanks for consideration of my response. I agree to all of statements above.

    But there is still a question “Is it nessecery to market the concept of CSR?”

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This entry was posted on January 22, 2009 by in Branding, Corporate Communication and tagged .
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