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Today, corporate social responsibility (CSR) plays a much greater role in an organization’s brand reputation and customers’ purchasing decisions than it did just a few years ago.

There’s no doubt that how a company views and contributes to societal issues is critically important – but marketing, advertising and communications leaders must counsel brands to very delicately develop the right strategy and approach that won’t backfire.

In other words, consumers are increasingly engaging with brands that are “doing good” and that align with how they see the world. But, the same consumers will run the other way and could harm your brand reputation if you communicate your CSR program the wrong way.

Take a peek at a few of the tips our creative team has for organizations who are looking to integrate CSR into their respective marketing, advertising and communications strategies.

Set Attainable Goals – and Always Have a “Why”

You are investing in social responsibility and taking a stand for what you believe in. Great! Be transparent and share your company’s goals with consumers.

Make sure that some are immediately attainable and measurable so they can make a near-term impact. However, don’t be hesitant to create loftier “aspirations” that are longer term in nature and demonstrate that you are contributing to a larger societal goal.

…And Follow Through

If you are going to communicate your goals and aspirations, do what you must to ensure you follow through. You know what will happen if you don’t.

Maintain Brand Voice

Be you. In other words, don’t sway from your organization’s focus, tone and messaging that people have come to expect. Instead, identify how your core competencies can contribute to social responsibility.

For example, if you practice corporate law, establish a position and objectives on protecting minorities and women from wrongful termination. People appreciate a different perspective that is unique to you and what you do every day.

Think Before You Post

The importance of this tip cannot be overstated. We all remember Burger King’s “Women Belong in the Kitchen” tweet on International Women’s Day – one that actually set the table for a great corporate initiative but was overlooked from the start.

Everybody’s brand voice is different, so your strategy will differ as well. But consider having several members outside of just the marketing department look at your concepts and work and react to it. Ask yourself more than once – how can this be interpreted by others outside of the building?

Act Quickly if Something Goes Wrong

Ideally, viral pushback of your campaign never happens. But if it does, be prepared to respond quickly, apologizing and offering clarifications as needed to help defuse the situation.

Create Authentic Content

When taking a position on social responsibility, the no. 1 goal is to remain authentic – whether it’s through your brand voice, objectives or content. Always use original content, as it helps create a more meaningful connection than just selling a product or service. That means investing in your own photography instead of stock imagery or developing organizational principles that don’t read like every other brand on the internet.

Further, a key characteristic of authenticity is simplicity. For example, in your photography, don’t feel the need to have every ethnicity represented or every book on the shelf be about diversity and inclusion. Consumers can see through these efforts and identify who is most genuine.

Invest in a Diverse and Inclusive Creative Team

Your creative team is the oven that will bake the tone, look and feel of how your CSR program and objectives are communicated. As a result, it’s important to build a diverse and inclusive team – not just ethnicity, but also age, gender, background and more. By doing so, you’ll know that all perspectives are being considered when building a campaign and it’s more likely to resonate with your target audiences. Not to mention, you’ll be contributing to diversity and inclusion yourself. 

Need some help integrating your CSR strategies into your creative? Give us a call and we can help get you going in the right direction.

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