So it should come as no surprise that communications in the field of CSR has also been changing, integrating various aspects of modern technology to reach out to stakeholders and being able to not just have a one sided conversation with them, but really engage with them on various levels.
Some of the key trends that are being adopted by companies globally are mentioned below as best case practices with the hopes that further adoption and adaptation of these practices occur within our region among our local companies.
Empowering stakeholders to create positive change through social media:
Social media is providing companies with an unprecedented opportunity to engage directly with their stakeholders, and some of the smart ones are taking advantage of these tools to engage and indeed empower their stakeholders in their own pursuit to making the world a better place.
Initiatives such as the one led by Lifebuoy, a Unilever brand, with “Help a Child Reach 5” Campaign focuses on the impact of hygiene on the lives of children, ending the campaigns emotional video with statistics on child mortality rates from diseases that could be prevented by a simple act of hand washing. Stakeholders can influence the campaign by directly donating or by simply sharing the video, for which the company donates 1 Indian Rupee for the cause.
Another similar campaign is led by Garnier Men India where they have focused on providing electricity through solar panels for thousands of villages in rural India who do not have electricity. Similarly stakeholders are asked to like the page for the company to donate to support the campaign.
Supplementing reporting through a dedicated CSR blog:
As I have mentioned in a previous article, it is becoming outdated to produce a CSR/Sustainability report and consider that the bulk of the CSR Communications requirements for the year has been fulfilled. In fact that’s far from the truth, since if anything; the report should serve as a launch-pad to further conversations and discussions between the stakeholders and the company.
There are a few good examples of companies taking the conversation online, involving their employees in sharing stories about the company’s CSR practices. Good examples of this would be Intel’s CSR Blog, and Cisco’s CSR Blog
However what I would like to see in furthering this trend is linking interactive CSR reports directly to the CSR blogs where stakeholders can ask questions and employees can share stories relating to each section of the report.
While some of the above mentioned trends are not so out of the ordinary, some of them are quite necessary to reach out to stakeholders and engage them in creating positive changes.
Some companies however are taking creative approaches in delivering their messages, such as Chipotle’s newly launched Scarecrow game designed to educate stakeholders on the unsustainable food systems currently prevailing in the restaurant industry and what they can do to change it. The video introducing the game shows haunting images of what animals are facing in terms of low standards of hygiene, overuse of antibiotics and generally poor living standards and what one scarecrow is doing to change it.
Interactive reporting is still an emerging trend for most companies, whoever a select few have begun testing with interactive methods to report on their CSR practices, and some of them have actually done so quite nicely.
What is supporting the interactive reports is having a dedicated CSR website that integrates all the information a stakeholder will need in easy to view designs and then supplementing it all with the interactive reports. It could be as simple as making your report browse-able, similar to any website such as Nike's Responsibility website and report, or imbedding videos and pop ups into a PDF likeIntel's reports
However, my favorite example of interactive reporting is Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, due to how it integrates such a wide scale of operations into a seemingly simple plan, with 7 milestones, the progress of which are communicated quite clearly on one website starting by defining the challenge under the milestone, the goals and targets planned in addition to the strategy leading to success in the milestone.
The power of Visual Communication
It is a well known saying that "A picture is worth a thousand words" and now more than ever, images are used to convey messages in a much more powerful way than other forms of communication. Most useful when analyzing large pieces of data it becomes crucial to visualize the information into the form of an infograph to make it easily digestible. Our own infograph section sums up nicely a variety of infographs covering issues in the field.
Visuals are also used throughout CSR and Sustainability reports to help stakeholders catch the most important information, and any successful CSR communications campaign must be accompanied by strong images and videos to fully engage the audience.
About the author:
Managing Director & Co Founder
CSR Watch Jordan
Connect with the author: