The souring reputations of many companies in America—regardless of the quality of their products and services—can often be traced back to one thing: their lack of corporate social responsibility (CSR). A recent study by Cone Communications and Echo Research of 10,000 global consumers found that 91 percent of shoppers worldwide will likely switch to brands that support a social or environmental cause. Meanwhile, 90 percent of shoppers will boycott a company engaged in irresponsible business practices.
Tampa Bay-based PR firm JoTo PR has found that many companies’ PR budget allocations are dramatically changing course by focusing as much as 50 percent on PR to influence people before they buy. In order to accomplish this, many more companies are implementing CSR efforts to align with their reputation strategy.
Karla Jo Helms, public relations innovator and veteran CEO of JoTo PR, has been advising her clients since the founding of her PR firm to contribute back to economic development while also improving the overall quality of the workforce by aiding in social, environmental and ethical concerns. Companies like SeaWorld can agree that all press is not good press. When the release of the documentary ‘Blackfish’ exposed the cruel treatment of orcas within the park, people’s opinion of the business plummeted, and response to the documentary didn’t help their case. Other companies such as Nestle, Walmart and Chase Bank are not only slacking on their environmental responsibilities, but are also being criticized for human rights violations, unethical promotions, financial schemes and more.
“Positive publicity and PR will increase the overall success of any CSR being performed simply by creating better word of mouth and getting the news out to the media and ultimately to the public,” said Helms, in a news release. “By leveraging your CSR efforts with a proactive PR strategy, the public will take notice of the work your company is doing, which studies show heavily influences buying decisions.”
There are several industries where this is evident, by both successful and failed CSR. Helms says tech companies understand the importance of CSR and leverage their strategies with PR in order to sway consumer’s interests. With a rise in the field of technology, Millennials are a particularly important niche. With 18-to 34-year-olds becoming the largest consumer base in the U.S., the most reputable tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Intel are faring especially well with that age group. These tech companies are listed among the top 10 companies in the world with the best CSR reputations, according to a recent study from the Reputation Institute.
According to a June study from KCD PR, 42 percent of how people feel about a company is based on their perceptions of a brand’s CSR efforts. In efforts to increase trust and public perception, companies are strongly encouraged to not only do well, but publicize their CSR activities. It’s a common understanding now that the government cannot be held solely responsible for ethical and societal changes—people believe that businesses have a civic duty to use their wealth and success to coincide with efforts to improve society by aiding in its growth and wellbeing. Helms points out that companies are developing their own CSR departments to solely focus on their sustainable growth.
“The tech industry is one that understands the importance of catering to their consumer’s opinions,” said Helms. “Other industries, such as healthcare, are losing the battle to [be seen in] a positive light in the eyes of the public.” One example of this is pharmaceutical companies—over the last 25 years, they have defrauded federal and state governments by $35 billion, most commonly by marketing drugs for unapproved uses, according to a Huffington Post report from this summer. This turns into a PR nightmare, and gives many pharmaceutical companies a horrible reputation.
Positive PR increases ROI for marketing dollars, lowers cost per lead and increases overall revenues for new business by making people more interested and comfortable in doing business with a particular company. “Consumers today want to support businesses—whether B2B or B2C—that make concerted efforts to better their community and the world,” said Helms. “There are now B Corporations requiring companies to contribute to the greater good in their bylaws.”
Helms states that companies can no longer rely on their actions speaking volumes—with today’s cluttered marketing environment, companies have to publicize their good works. “PR creates safe havens of goodwill for businesses today to be able to expand safely by being in control of public opinion,” she concludes.
Source: PRWeb; edited by Richard Carufel