The Power of Communication in CSR

Publised on: 18 - 09 -2018

Communication is at the Heart of CSR Strategy - True communication requires both a speaker and a listener, ideally taking turns. You might have the best story in the world to tell, but if no one is listening, then your communication strategy is not very effective. The digital age has paved way for a dynamic era of corporate communication. Everything from blogs and RSS feeds to webinars and social media give organizations new tools with which to interact directly with their stakeholders. Such interactive communications are often referred to as viral, because ideas and opinions spread through the network via word‐of‐mouth and are usually perceived as highly trustworthy sources. Online communication has potential to create a ripple effect that grows as it reaches wider audiences. And social media empowers users to engage with organizations on a myriad of issues. So why not CSR? These online networks are effective monitoring tools as they could feature early warning signals of trending topics. And, in the case of CSR communications, they can help business communicators and marketers to identify and follow the latest sustainability issues. The most effective CSR reporting will be mindful both of the company’s achievements, and the priorities of the people who will read the report: employees, customers, community representatives, NGOs, and yes, shareholders. Integrating their priorities into your CSR strategy can help you maximize the impact of your reporting. But how?

  • Talk to people: When you get into the nitty-gritty of what your corporate responsibility strategy is and what type of goals you are setting for the future, things can get complicated quickly.
  • Two-way communication: communicating your CSR efforts to listening to stakeholders and then communicating your efforts – from one-way communication to two-way communication. But this simple shift in focus has numerous positive impacts, from increasing the impact of your CSR reporting efforts, to risk mitigation to meeting the demand for increased transparency.
  • Side benefits of engaged communication: By looking more deeply at your organization’s activities, you can anticipate which actions are going to become a lot more expensive down the road – or maybe even impossible thanks to new regulations. By focusing on the core issues that make your company tick, your reporting can improve the resiliency of your organization.
  • From CSR report to CSR reporting all year round: Ultimately, your goal should be to shift your approach to CSR reporting away from just focusing on that annual communication. But ultimately, it’s not the contents of the report, but the act of reporting, that matters most – and that communication channel should be open all year round.