May 1, 2018
CSR Done Well: Brands Who Have Taken a Stand Effectively
The idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not new, though it has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, thanks, in large part, to the direct connection between brands and consumers on social media.
CSR is undoubtedly a powerful opportunity to promote one’s brand while also making a difference in the local community and the world. It’s a chance for a corporation to draw a line in the sand and take on a difficult issue that really matters. In some cases, CSR can even be a vehicle to increase brand value, strengthen market share and solve nagging business challenges. But, of course, there’s another side to this powerful sword. The birth of CSR in the United States was, in a way, government assisted. In the earliest days, prior to the 1800s, states could revoke a business owner’s operational license if that owner behaved in an irresponsible manner. While this is still the case with regard to many different licenses and certifications, in many cases modern CSR is driven by customer interactions and the economic consequences, good and bad, of taking action certain social issues. These consequences can be amplified thanks to social media, so any modern CSR campaign must be cognizant of the social media narrative of such decisions.
While many companies stub their proverbial toe trying to effectively navigate the intersection of social responsibility and consumer PR, there are some who consistently hit it out of the park. Here are some examples, as well as the lessons we can learn from them.
Google is a massive business, with nearly unparalleled reach and matchless opportunities to be an influential corporate partner with regard to social issues. Based on the company’s sheer size, its successful initiatives have not only set a standard but also shown other companies how to bring about positive change. A few years back, Google decided to put more effort into recycling and, of all things, turning off the lights. Doesn’t sound earth-shattering, but those decisions led to a 50-percent reduction in power requirements at Google data centers. Talk about quantifiable CSR. With the obvious benefits to the bottom line, other companies are following Google’s lead, creating an international chain reaction of green solutions.
Yet another company with incredible clout and reach, Disney takes its role as a CSR standard-bearer seriously. The company has focused on environmental efforts, local volunteerism and international aid. After the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Disney stepped in, offering significant aid to the desperate island nation. Disney also invests some of the proceeds from their film projects into protecting endangered reefs, planting trees and other environmental causes.
When it comes to Earth Day, perhaps no company’s team does more, per capita, than PG&E. Employees come out to clean and restore California state parks. So far, PG&E has had a hand in restoring 18 state parks, and counting. Employees also volunteer to build houses for Habitat For Humanity, and by providing solar panels for these new homes. They also put together care packages and groceries for neighbors in need.
What if I told you that, over the past few years, Target has donated the equivalent of five percent of its total profit back into local communities served by its retail stores. Causes aimed at by Target include education, sustainable business practices and encouraging local involvement by employees. The company is truly creating a CSR culture, top to bottom.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations