Hop in the driver’s seat of your corporate social responsibility story

Drive the conversation

People are talking about you. Whether you’re part of the conversation or not, it is happening. The topic is your corporate social responsibility activities. Employees, stakeholders, and consumers are engaged and making decisions based on what they see and read.

The problem is that too often you are left out of the conversation because your side of the story isn’t being told. One is left to wonder how your absence affects your reputation in the mind of those that have high expectations of companies and want them to demonstrate a strong commitment to social responsibility.

Research shows consumers make purchasing decisions based on how socially responsible a company is and will boycott one that isn’t viewed in such a positive light.

For far too long, companies have been reluctant to tell their story. They were afraid it would come across as boastful or bragging. Somehow they felt that sharing the story would negate the good works that were being done.

I’ve talked to several senior corporate leaders in the last few weeks that have validated this reluctance. I’ve heard a consistent message. “We are doing good things, but no one knows about it. We need to do a better job of telling our story.” What was once perceived as bragging is now quickly becoming a necessity.

Corporations are increasingly recognizing that it is in their best interest to not only join but drive the conversation and share the story of how they are driving key social change.

We have learned that there is an expectation for companies to be involved. We’re also learning that there are business reasons for doing so.

According to the recently released 2017 Cone CSR Report, millennials are hopeful that businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward. The same report found that Americans still have high expectations for companies; 92% say they have a more positive image of the company if they support a social or environmental cause.

Here are some tips to help your company drive the conversation and reap the benefits that can come as a result.  

Understand why you are engaged

Before you can tell any story, you need to be clear on the purpose and the why. Companies would do well to think about these questions:

-What does CSR mean to our company, and why is it important?

-What are we trying to accomplish through our involvement?

-Who can we partner with to help us achieve our goals?

-How will our involvement benefit our company and our stakeholders, and help advance change in societal issues?

It is best when companies align their focus areas with their corporate goals and objectives, employee interests and needs, and community issues.

Clearly articulate what you are doing

Once you understand why you are engaged, articulate the value of your efforts. Being able to articulate your message is the difference between bragging and genuine commitment to good corporate citizenship and social change.

Corporate storytelling with Good Done Great

Tell the story using multiple communication vehicles

Make sure your story is being told using a variety of channels. The time-proven methods of annual reports and press releases are still valid. Recent years have seen a growth in the number of companies publishing an annual corporate social responsibility report. All of these are effective and demonstrate the company’s commitment to social change. More and more companies are turning to social media. All of these vehicles can and should be used.

The Cone Report found that 79% of consumers say they are more likely to believe a company’s CSR commitments if they share their efforts along multiple channels.

Use your partners to tell the story. They also have communication networks and channels. More storytellers make for a better story.

Engage employees as storytellers

Feature employees who are actively engaged in giving and volunteering. Use their faces and stories in your social media campaigns and printed reports. Additionally, encourage employees to tell the story to their friends and family. They can use their individual social networks to push out the story even further.  Engaging employees personalizes the story and demonstrates genuine commitment and authenticity.

The Cone Research report found that millennials are likely to tell friends and family about the CSR efforts of their employer and of companies that are committed to social change.

Promote partnerships and encourage participation

In your story, show how you have partnered with others to address a critical need and then invite those reading your story to engage with you. Consumers want to know what you are doing and how their personal actions can make a difference. They also said they appreciate a bold or daring message that makes them think differently. Use your story to invite their participation and action.

Companies are in a unique position to serve as the educator, the convener, and the catalyst for those wanting to make a difference. It all begins with joining the conversation and telling their story.  Be a driver and a catalyst for doing good and reap the benefits that come from being an engaged and involved corporation.

This post was authored by Steve Greenhalgh, our Managing Director of CSR Strategy.

Top 10 CSR social media accounts to follow today

Social media is the perfect platform to share images, facts, quotes, and statistics surrounding your corporate philanthropy efforts. More and more consumers utilize social media to discover information on CSR and engage with companies on CSR-related issues.

We’ve pulled together a list of our favorite brands and CSR strategists that we can all take some tips from to up our CSR social media game. 

1- PPG

PPG is a global company that provides paints, coatings, and materials. They utilize Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share information on their giving and volunteering initiatives. Their own CSR-dedicated Twitter account, @ppg_communities, highlights their PPG Foundation grants and volunteer program, #ColorfulCommunities.

PPG Good Done Great Social Media

2- Ecolab Foundation

Ecolab, the global leader in water, hygiene, and energy technologies, utilizes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to educate consumers on water scarcity and food safety. These two cause areas correspond directly with their core business.

Their Twitter account, @EcolabFdn, features grant recipients and their employee volunteers. They tweet using #EcolabGives to highlight their work in the community.

Hashtags are a great way to encourage your followers to engage with and follow your content.

3- PwC Foundation

The PwC Foundation utilizes their Twitter account, @PwCFoundation, to promote their cause areas including veteran affairs and youth education. They share articles their employees pen surrounding their personal connection with cause areas. This is a great way to humanize the causes that the PwC Foundation supports.

4- Whole Kids Foundation

The Whole Kids Foundation’s Instagram feed is filled with colorful images of fruits, vegetables, and smiling faces of children who receive support from the foundation. This foundation, one of the Whole Foods Market Foundations, supports schools and inspires families to improve childhood nutrition and wellness. They encourage their followers to post photos with #growinghealthykids to share their work in growing gardens that support the health and wellness of children.

Good Done Great Whole Kids Foundation Social Media

Are you in need of facts and research that support your Corporate Social Responsibility activities? Look no further than these three twitter accounts…

5- @EdelmanPurpose

Edelman is known the world over for their work promoting and protecting the world’s most respected and trusted brands. Their Twitter account features research and insight on the latest CSR buzzwords and themes including finding your social purpose and demonstrating the business case for sustainability. If you are in need of helpful facts or the latest CSR research, follow @EdelmanPurpose.

6- @CECPtweets

We’ve been fans of CECP for awhile now as they bring together business leaders committed to social responsibility. Their Giving in Numbers report provides statistics and trends regarding current CSR programs of some of the biggest brands; this information helps other companies benchmark their efforts. Check out their feed for highlights surrounding current happenings in the CSR space.

7- @RealizedWorth

RealizedWorth works with companies to motivate employees to participate in volunteering and giving programs. Their inspiring and informational content spurs readers into action. Join over 11,900 of their followers to stay on top of content such as “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose: Framing the Volunteer Experience.”

Edelman, CECP, and RealizedWorth fill their Twitter accounts with CSR facts and statistics. Provide your followers with similar information, and they will view you and your brand as thought leaders.

To round out our list of top 10 CSR-related social media accounts, here are three of our favorite tweeters in this space.

8- Ingrid Embree – @trulyingrid

Ingrid, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, at GlobalGiving shares both informational and inspiring tweets featuring feel-good giving stories. If you are interested in staying on top of the latest in CSR and sustainable development, you will find Ingrid’s account filled with information on the SDGs, skills-based volunteering, and news on relevant causes including the refugee crisis.

9- Shannon Schuyler – @ShannonSchuyler

Shannon is the Chief Purpose Officer at PwC and the President of the PwC Foundation. Her Twitter feed features stories of her fellow colleagues and their personal passions and causes in addition to articles and facts on purpose in the workplace. She keeps her feed current by featuring events including Teacher Appreciation Week and Military Appreciation Month. These celebrated days feature new causes that inspire us to give back.

10- Aman Singh – @AmanSinghCSR

Aman has years of experience in CSR from her role as VP, Business + Social Purpose at Edelman to her work with CSRwire and her current role at Futerra.

Her 19,000+ Twitter followers receive news on everything from the circular economy to climate change and open positions in sustainability. In 160 characters or less, she inspires her followers to take action.

Ingrid, Shannon, and Aman engage their followers with content that not only informs but inspires. Successful social media accounts inform their followers while inspiring and encouraging them to take action.

If you are looking to up your Twitter or social media game, these ten brands and individuals serve as inspiration and provide invaluable CSR research. Take example from the above accounts and turn your neutral stakeholders into positive CSR brand ambassadors!