Walk the Talk: Advance Your CSR Initiatives With an ESG PR Strategy

Committing to thoughtful and relevant corporate social responsibility (CSR) programming is no longer enough. In fact, promoting your CSR promises without measurable metrics and transparency may come off as hollow and disingenuous, fomenting controversy that can, at times, harm your company, employees and the communities you are trying to serve. Make your programming more impactful, equitable, sustainable and accountable by integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles in your PR strategy. 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Right now, more than ever before, implementing a meaningful and impactful CSR plan with an ESG strategy is not just good for business – it is essential to the well-being of your company, your employees and your community.  

In 2015, Cone Communications Millennial research found that 72% of Americans say they feel it is more important than ever that the companies they buy from reflect their values, and 76% say supporting companies that are addressing social and environmental issues helps them feel they are doing their part. Nearly nine out of ten consumers say they’re likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies.

Today, Gen-Z has become an influential group of consumers, leading social causes and change through their buying power in the last few years. According to research by Fuse Marketing, “85% of Gen-Z believe companies have an obligation to help solve social problems.” A substantial 23% of Gen-Z also reported to have boycotted an activity or company.

Therefore, identifying your values and putting them into action thoughtfully and impactfully is crucial to reaching your target audience and giving back to your community. Start by examining your company values and the interests of your stakeholders to identify the need you are uniquely positioned to fill, and then build out a plan to channel resources into that space. 

CSR and ESG Initiatives Require Sincere Commitment

There are lessons to be learned from Bud Light’s partnership with social media influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, last April. At a time when the transgender community was being stripped of their rights by right-wing legislators and even life by transphobic individuals, Bud Light had a responsibility to stand with Dylan when hateful bullying and backlash arose from their collaboration. Instead, Bud Light turned its back on Dylan and the entire LGBTQ community. It led to massive boycotts on both sides. The TASC Group Founder and Chairman Larry Kopp puts it best: “They’ve damaged their relationship with their main customer base and the LGBTQ+ community.”

Implement a Realistic ESG Strategy to Advance Your CSR Goals

Utilizing PR can raise awareness of your CSR initiatives, build interest in the causes you care about and attract other donors and partners, big and small, to support your efforts. Weighing in on pressing issues can feel overwhelming, especially in the current news cycle, so it’s important to employ PR in a thoughtful way, focusing on your cause, not your company. 

  1. Evaluate how your brand and initiatives align with your demographics and their social advocacy.
  2. Craft the right messaging around your CSR goals and ESG initiatives, focusing your work and objectives on today’s most pressing issues. 
  3. Create a step-by-step ESG plan to advance social causes, address issues impacting communities you want to reach and invite others to get involved. 
  4. Set measurable goals to track your progress and create transparency for your initiatives

The Road Ahead

Be creative with your CSR and ESG initiatives. Finding unique ways to leverage your company’s position or events will drive media interest, which in turn will help you build support for your cause and goodwill for your company. 

Creating relevant, inventive CSR initiatives that tangibly address the needs of your community and then thoughtfully communicating them to your stakeholders is crucial for our collective revitalization efforts and also for the success of your business. Engaging in CSR and ESG will best prepare your company to build trust with consumers whose values are guiding the future. 

Need an ESG PR strategy? The TASC Group offers comprehensive services that can set your thought leadership and advocacy efforts stand out, including public relations, crisis and issues management, cause-related marketing, storytelling and messaging and more.

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