Corporate Social Responsibility in Action: a New Critical Element of Marketing & Public Relations
We all know how this year has ushered in unprecedented change in healthcare, consumer behavior, employment and unemployment, and social justice, and it’s not letting up. As change happens, the social leaders we look to for guidance and by which we measure our own reactions – businesses, brands and celebrities – have been forced to respond in some way, shape or form.
But have those reactions, the embodiment of corporate social responsibility, been enough? And has hearing about them via marketing and public relations made a difference?
Corporate Social Responsibility During Times of Change
Corporate social responsibility is an organization’s approach to holding itself accountable for the impact it has on society, our environment and our economy, as well as in our communities. Consumers want to support brands doing the right thing, and they’ll use their spending power to demonstrate that.
In times of change, doing the right thing and telling consumers about it via marketing and public relations (PR) can have a direct effect on the bottom line. In fact, research showed that nearly 80% of Americans want companies to address important social justice issues, nearly 90% of them will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and more than 75% will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services when they know the company supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
Since March, we’ve seen numerous brands pivot to focus on social responsibility and communicating their actions through advertising, social media and PR. Some brands have done this effectively, and some have tanked, because consumers can sense whether efforts are authentic or not. While consumers have long memories, keeping up with which brand has done what – or nothing at all – and the outcomes get lost in the noise of communications.
Effective Marketing & Public Relations to Promote Corporate Responsibility
Enter Did They Help?, a website that documents how brands and celebrities have been reacting to recent social issues, such as the COVID-19 epidemic. Did They Help? praises brands and celebrities that have contributed positively, listing them as “heroes” and allocating a point per good deed. The site also calls out who has responded negatively, such as furloughing staff or providing misinformation about the virus. Those are the “zeroes.”
“The reputation of a company as a whole will have to be steeped in their good deeds,” website founder Pooj Morjaria told Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. He contends that ethics-driven consumerism will only grow. As consumers make “better informed decisions about where they’re spending their money,” companies and brands will have to demonstrate their value from that perspective. The COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down, and businesses and brands that made altruistic changes in the interest of public health and the greater good are being recognized by ethically minded consumers. The result is likely to be a “new ranking system or value system for holding companies and public figures accountable,” said Morjaria.
Currently, Did They Help? features business and brand reactions to three hot issues: COVID-19, LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter. Visitors can quickly scan the lists of top “heroes” and “zeroes” by topic, review data by specific topic, or search by specific brand or business name to get a more comprehensive report of its reactions.
It’s important to note that the rankings and evaluations by Did They Help? are to some degree crowd-sourced by the team behind the website. Businesses and brands can also be nominated by readers, and the team confirms information through reputable, verifiable sources.
The content changes frequently based on current marketing and public relations activity, so it’s worth a look whenever your curiosity is piqued. If there’s a business, brand or celebrity that’s missing from the site’s evaluation, let us know. We’d love to hear why they should be included!
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