Getting The Most PR Benefit Out of CSR

Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility often gets muddled in SMEs where decisions are made for philanthropic rather than business reasons. In the confusion, the PR opportunity is also missed.  In a regular column for Yorkshire Business Network, Barnsley-based PR firm Cream share their top 10 tips getting the most PR benefit out of CSR for SMEs.

1. PR should be seen as an additional benefit of CSR. It should not be the sole reason for CSR which should be about staff engagement, acting responsibly and supporting your local community and environment.

2. Tell the world! CSR should be viewed as an asset of the business. If you fail to shout about it, then you’re wasting a huge PR opportunity.

3. Make sure your CSR – particularly any charity work – is in line with your industry. Choose a charity with a natural affinity to your industry which strengthens your brand and helps you reach new audiences. For example WH Smith partners with The National Literacy Trust.

4. Keep your strategic business objectives in mind. It may seem cynical but presenting a large cheque to charity is not CSR – it’s philanthropy. No one is suggesting you shouldn’t give to charity but is there a way of giving to charity and benefiting your business at the same time?

5. Display evidence of your CSR in your offices and on your website. Frame photographs, certificates or press cuttings and watch as your CSR collateral gives your brand – and employees – a lift.

6. Win some awards. If your SME has excellent environmental credentials, for example, then enter some relevant awards. Winning will help improve your brand and helps you evaluate your CSR strategy.

7. Always view CSR as a win-win opportunity. If it’s feeling like a strain, then the strategy is wrong.

8. CSR should be embraced by every employee and embedded in everyone’s job. All staff are ambassadors so encourage them to share and celebrate achievements. Through involvement, employees will take responsibility and ownership.

9. Benchmark. Look at others in your sector and examine how they are using CSR and how their PR reflects their CSR activity. Are they winning clients and building improved relationships through better communication?

10. Be passionate and be bold. Try a different approach and the PR payback will be greater. Dress-down Fridays are great but there’s no PR benefit. Make sure you don’t miss the PR opportunity.