CSR: The Good, The Bad and The Laugh-Worthy

A wildly successful Saturday at the Temple University Invitational: A Taste of Philly PR left me with new knowledge, connections and inspiration. One particular session stuck with me and I’m hoping you’ll see why. Scott Tattar, a local PR professional with over 30 years of experience including working for Ketchum, owning his own firm and most recently presiding over the PR department at LevLane Advertising, spoke to the group at the Invitational about corporate social responsibility.

Tattar defined CSR as “how you create love for a brand that creates a sustainable relationship between you and the community” and noted that a lot of people go right to thinking about eco-friendly and green initiatives when they hear corporate social responsibility. While we would never discourage being more kind to the environment, that’s not exactly what a successful CSR program initiates.

Some essentials of CSR are:

  • Empowering the customer
  • Clarity of focus
  • Targeting the buying community

Some good examples of CSR programs were mentioned during the conversation, including Target’s Red Card program that allows customers to donate 1% of their total cost of purchase towards the school of their choice and Target will match it. This is a successful CSR initiative because it’s empowering the customer as well as staying community-focused.

Poor examples of CSR initiatives were mentioned as well. Learn from the mistakes of others, right? Burger King has a program that donates proceeds to fighting childhood obesity. As good of a cause as it may be, that is just one big oxymoron and doesn’t exactly empower the customer.

I came away from the session with a full understanding of corporate social responsibility that I didn’t have before, and I hope you get the same from my post.

Can you think of any great (or terrible) examples of CSR programs? We want to hear from you!

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