By: Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA
America’s Companies Practicing the Best in Public Relations Do So through Good Corporate Social Responsibility
When Companies look to good corporate social responsibility practices, they need to remember the rules of engagement. They need to brush up on their best public relations theory models. In particular, those companies that look to converse through the two-way symmetrical model will find they can have an interactive communication stream that allows public interaction, potential recruitment to the cause, building of understanding and awareness, as well as mutually meeting many of the social needs both the company and its targeted publics face.
This may seem like an obvious question, but it’s worth asking: Why should organizations communicate in the first place? Well, remember Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations? The standard for PR textbooks accurately points out that as America moved into the 20th century, the excesses of large corporations, railroads, banks, utilities, and other elements of the business world fed the fires of reform and protest.
After that inauspicious start, it still took a long time for companies to think about doing well by doing good for their publics. That’s where today’s companies have recognized the opportunity – and ironically, the increased productivity and profitability – corporate social responsibility (CSR) represents.
A recent Forbes article on the subject notes: “We increasingly hear that corporate social responsibility has become a business imperative. All types of media glowingly describe the business benefits of behaving responsible. Executives are repeatedly informed that by demonstrating concern for the environment, human rights, community development, and the welfare of their employees in both the U.S. and abroad, they will make their firms more profitable.”
In Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause, Philip Kotner and Nancy Lee report the numerous benefits of CSR:
- There’s the potential for increased sales and market share
- The strengthening of a brand’s position in the marketplace
- A chance to enhance corporate image and increased clout
- An increased ability to attract, motivate and retain employees
- The likelihood to actually decrease operating costs; and …
- Provide an increased appeal to investors and financial analysts
Not surprising, in a Cone/Duke University study, consumers said they like to support companies who engage in social or environmental issues. In fact, more than 75% of respondents said it was either somewhat important or very important they would buy a product from companies supporting a cause.
The same study showed a vast majority of employees like to work for companies that care. In this day and age of onboarding, recruiting and retaining the best knowledge workers, it’s imperative to note how a company’s strongest ambassadors – its employees – are continually seeking more purposeful work.
Corporate Social Responsibility – it’s just good business – in more ways than one.
Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA is Senior Vice President of Cleveland-based Falls Communications.
He has worked on numerous award-winning campaigns for a number of national and global clients including Sherwin-Williams, General Motors, General Electric, The Home Depot, Moen, Allsteel, Dirt Devil, Dutch Boy, 3M, Xerox and Huntington National Bank.
He is past president of the Greater Cleveland PRSA chapter and a former Director with the national PRSA Board.