Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a new term in the business world, but it is one that seems to be mandatory for large brands in 2019. A quick glance at any major corporation’s website, and you’ll certainly find a corporate mission statement about positively impacting the world perfectly wrapped up in a public relations package. But with consumers paying more attention to social issues than ever, it’s easy to spot something inauthentic.

According to a global survey by Accenture Strategy of nearly 30,000 consumers, 62% say they want companies to take a stand on issues like sustainability, gender equality or fair employment in a way that aligns with their own beliefs. In addition, nearly half of consumers will stop supporting a brand if they’re disappointed with the company’s stance on a particular social issue.

So, as PR pros, how do you reach these socially aware consumers and help your client demonstrate that it isn’t jumping on the bandwagon? Asking yourself these two simple questions can help you get started:

What do you stand for?

The new fleet of hybrid Coca-Cola delivery trucks, intended to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint. Photo courtesy of the  Coca-Cola Company .

The new fleet of hybrid Coca-Cola delivery trucks, intended to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint. Photo courtesy of the Coca-Cola Company.

The first step to an authentic CSR program is helping the company focus its efforts.

  • Does your company care about fair labor practices?

  • Does your company care about its environmental footprint?

  • Does your company care about giving back to the community it’s in?

Companies often form their CSR programs too broadly, making them seem eager to join the herd rather than take a stance that is authentic. Stand for what you really care for or an issue your company can have a direct impact on.

Coca-Cola is a great example of a brand that focused their CSR goals. After research showed that their massive fleet of delivery trucks contributed 3.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the world, they took the initiative to invest in new, alternatively fueled trucks. The company hopes that these initiatives will create a 25% reduction in Coca-Cola’s carbon footprint by 2020. Not only is this CSR focus authentic, but it will have real, measurable results.

Got your focus? Now follow through.

Following Hurricane Harvey, Three Box client Topgolf, which operates three venues in Houston, put it’s Core Value of Caring into action through an authentic CSR campaign. Photo courtesy of  Topgolf .

Following Hurricane Harvey, Three Box client Topgolf, which operates three venues in Houston, put it’s Core Value of Caring into action through an authentic CSR campaign. Photo courtesy of Topgolf.

If you’re going to speak out on a specific social campaign, you must be ready to put forth the resources necessary to make that campaign happen. You also need to take a deep inventory of your company and its leadership to make sure all your existing values are aligned with the new CSR program.

A great example of this is a CSR campaign implemented by Three Box client Topgolf following Hurricane Harvey. One of Topgolf’s five Core Values is Caring – looking out for the safety and well-being of the Topgolf family, Guests and communities is at the company’s core. Topgolf operates three venues in the Houston market, which was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in Fall 2017. Hundreds of Topgolf Associates were impacted, along with their neighbors, families, friends and Topgolf Guests. Topgolf put its Core Values into action through a CSR campaign that included a social media video that encouraged viewers to contribute to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and both internal and external charitable giving campaigns that raised more than $120,000 for those impacted by the storm.

But your company doesn’t have to be Topgolf or Coca-Cola in order to take a strong stance on important issues. Consumers are looking for authenticity from their brands. Find what your company cares about and get plugged in.

What are some of the more successful CSR initiatives you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments below.

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