How to Navigate Corporate Social Responsibility as a PR Practitioner

Today, Corporate Social Responsibility is not only a standard but expected. 

Corporate Social Responsibility is a form of self-regulation that allows businesses and brands to show their customers what they are doing for the community to give back in more ways than just selling a service or product. Companies can implement four CSR efforts: environmental initiatives, charity work, ethical labor practices, and volunteer projects. These CSR efforts play a huge role in the company’s brand perception while attracting customers, employees, stakeholders, and overall business success.

As aspiring PR Practitioners, we have to be able to navigate CSR strategically. A company’s CSR should align with its values and mission statement. CSR is not meant to be used as a marketing strategy to target specific groups. For example, changing your company’s profile picture to have a rainbow flag or BLM fist for October and February, LGBTQ history month, and Black History Month is not CSR. Instead of trying to fit in as an ally during these months, the proper approach is to adopt socially responsible business practices over time. For example, donating to charities that support them, being vocal to customers about their support, and doing volunteer work where the money gets donated to such groups. 

Corporate Social Responsibility is based on these guidelines:

● Companies are members of society; therefore, it is ethically responsible for them to give resources to organizations whose purpose is to improve the community.

● Corporations must examine their environments before developing their CSR strategy.

● Corporate philanthropy is more likely to be effective as a PR tool when the values and interests of the groups receiving support are aligned with the values and interests of the company.

● Consumers tend to view CSR positively as long as corporations act transparently and ethically in developing and implementing their CSR.

An example of a company with amazing CSR is Patagonia. Patagonia is known to be one of the most socially responsible brands with its efforts to donate and raise awareness for environmental issues and give back to the community. Their products are made from 70% recycled materials, aiming for products to be made from 100% recycled materials by 2025. Patagonia gives 1% of all sales to environmental organizations around the world. Patagonia has donated $20,000,000 to their Answer with Action program, supporting groups working to find solutions to the environmental crisis. Patagonia has created this Worn Wear program which takes used Patagonia clothing and repairs it if it needs, and sells it to customers for a lower price on https://wornwear.patagonia.com/

Navigating CSR as a new PR practitioner can be intimidating, but keeping these ideas in mind and looking at companies known to be socially responsible can help you along the way!

Emily Brandl, Account Associate

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