There’s an awful lot of talk about Corporate Social Responsibility these days. Companies are verily tripping over themselves to out ‘do-good’ one another. In most cases, it’s nice to see how corporations are treating this topic seriously. After all, we should be doing right by our employees, our communities and our shared environment.
What grates on my nerves is when CSR appears to be only an empty exercise. How can you tell the difference? It’s not that hard, actually. Good corporate PR strategies need to flow from the core values and priorities of the corporation. In other words, they have to actually stand for something. If you don’t know the business plan (from mission to financial metrics), then you can’t possibly draw up a comprehensive public relations strategy. If you don’t know the raison d’être of your business, then you’re just guessing when it comes to corporate communications strategy. The best you’ll get is a piecemeal approach to developing your corporate reputation.
When a company issues a CSR report that talks a good talk but is clearly out of sync with its corporate culture, then it’s worse than window dressing. Employees will immediately see through it and shareholders will eventually suss it out. You’ll end up feeling like you’re all dressed up in borrowed, ill-fitting clothes.