CSR and measurement

Authentic implementation of CSR, the pitfalls of distributing too many releases, and more

Authentic implementation of CSR, the pitfalls of distributing too many releases, and more

CSR

We keep hearing about how important CSR is, but other than donating money to good causes, how else do you implement it?

While corporate giving is a key part of any CSR strategy, it's not about giving away the money you make, it's about how you make money every day, says Greg Schneider of CSRwire. "The most important consideration in implementing any CSR strategy is authenticity," he adds.

Implementing a CSR strategy requires an analysis of the company's operations. Schneider says this analysis should include the principles, practices, and measurements in areas such as ethics, accountability, human rights, governance, financial returns, employment practices, business relationships, diversity, products, community involvement, and environmental impact.

Once the analysis is complete, strategically select the appropriate initiatives. "Some professionals acknowledge that choosing one initiative is better than a multi-faceted approach," Schneider says. "Both have proven effective."

Solicit internal support from staffers. "Employees who are aware of positive initiatives will support the company and help publicize these efforts through word of mouth," he notes. "As with any strategy, be fully aware of the target audience and develop clear expectations. Any CSR strategy must be communicated in the venue where the journalists, analysts, academics, investors, and activists will find it."

Press relations

One of our clients is 'press release happy' - intent on announcing every donation, partnership, fundraiser, and event in a press release sent to the same media list. How can I suggest cutting back?

When reporters receive non-newsworthy pitches and releases on a continuous basis from the same source, they may begin to question, ignore, and ultimately delete e-mails from such sources, says Jennifer Stoltz of Qorvis Communications. "There is such a thing as over-communication, and it can backfire," she adds.

Communicate with clients the need to switch gears and think as a reporter on a regular basis, especially when releasing news. "Combine that with releases on partnerships, donations and other smaller related announcements," says Stoltz. "This will double the news value and halve the number of releases you send out."

In addition, she says, issue releases only to appropriate contacts, not your entire media list.

Media training

What is the best media training route - several sessions or an immersion program?

Immersion programs are necessary to prepare executives and others for scheduled interviews or announcements, and to build performance skills for situations such as satellite interviews or webcasts, says Jeff Braun of The Ammerman Experience.

"If time allows, several one-on-one sessions are usually best to build skills, confidence, and comfort," he adds.

With multiple sessions, the instructor has more flexibility to ensure specific skills are mastered before moving forward.

"Regardless of format, participants should maximize the opportunity media interviews offer and understand how to manage the vulnerabilities that are inherent during any type of media interaction," says Braun.

Measurement

Is there any way to link media coverage with sales or other business outcomes?

Research shows a concrete link between coverage and business outcomes when viewed through a "share of discussion" filter, says Angela Jeffrey of VMS.


Share of discussion is defined as the quantity and quality of your firm's media coverage compared to its rivals. "The company talked about most often, most positively, will have a significant advantage," Jeffrey says. "This is seen in increased sales, customer preference, or other outcome and outgrowth metrics."

The simplified formula: Capture coverage for your firm and its competitors; convert it to media value or audience impressions; score for tone, and subtract all negative coverage from positive plus neutral for net positive scores. Add up the coverage for all competitors, and figure the percentages of net positive media value or impressions for your firm. "The result is share of discussion, which can be plotted on a graph at periodic intervals," she says. "Desired outcome measures can be plotted similarly with some adjustment for sales cycle."

PR Toolbox is edited by Erica Iacono, New York-based reporter for PRWeek. Submit questions to her at toolbox@prweek.commailto:toolbox@prweek.com">toolbox@prweek.com>. Also, please contact her if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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