What is corporate social responsibility? CSR is any company effort that benefits people socially, economically, or environmentally, and it’s a top-of-mind concern for customers during the pandemic. Considering the devastating effects of COVID-19, it’s no surprise that people care about what happens to their communities.

Ultimately, the public perception of your CSR efforts can either make or break your business: RepTrak’s Data Science Team found that CSR factors influence purchase behavior. It also determines whether people will give your company the benefit of the doubt during crises. Other research supports these findings: Eighty-seven percent of people would buy from a company that endorses an issue they care about.

Wondering why you’re not reaping the same benefits? You might not be communicating your CSR efforts to the public. This step is critical but often missed. It might seem boastful or premature to talk about your top CSR initiatives because you might not see results right away, but people won’t know what you’re doing if you don’t tell them. And if people don’t think you care about CSR, it’ll hurt your corporate reputation, profitability, and business outcomes.

The Gap Between Public Perception and Reality

In 2020, revenue and trust were critical to staying afloat. Companies had a lot of urgent matters on their minds, so they failed to talk about their CSR efforts with the public. Unfortunately, this resulted in misalignment between what companies were actually doing (reality) and what people thought they were doing (perception).

Without authentic, strategic business communication, your CSR efforts will fall flat. You can address the public perception gap by prioritizing corporate social responsibility communications. Just remember that the content and truthfulness of your messaging matters. If you self-promote too much, your initiatives might seem disingenuous. Or, if you say that you’re doing great things when you aren’t, it would be worse than if you hadn’t said anything at all.

In general, good CSR communication produces a positive ripple effect for your company. Externally, it boosts your company’s reputation and positively impacts people’s communities. Because many customers buy based on their values, it also strengthens customer loyalty. Internally, positive CSR consumer perception improves revenue, drives efficiency, and empowers your employees.

How to Improve CSR Consumer Perception Through Business Communication

CSR initiatives and strategic communication go hand in hand. Here are a few ways to ensure you’re communicating your corporate social responsibility efforts in a genuine way:

1. Engage people in CSR efforts via email 

It’s not enough to just share updates on your CSR initiatives — you have to make them engaging. Try including a poll to help people feel more involved. For example, if your company is working on sustainable packaging, you could briefly explain what you’re doing and present two design options. This will provide you with relevant feedback while improving public perception. 

2. Take advantage of corporate and employee social media accounts.

Social media channels can be used to generate organic buzz. For example, you can use corporate accounts to talk about your CSR efforts in a natural way. You can also harness the power of employee accounts to capitalize on engagement and encourage conversations. Just make sure your CSR business communication comes across as honest and genuine (like Slack did after George Floyd’s murder), not a marketing ploy. 

3. Use entertaining and informative videos to discuss CSR.

Plan, film, and share an intro video that tells your company’s CSR story. If you have the time and resources, follow the first video with longer features on each of your company’s CSR efforts to increase transparency and peak customer interest. For example, LEGO built the world’s largest LEGO brick wind turbine to celebrate reaching 100% renewable energy. 

4. Create a centralized hub for CSR-related content.

Consider putting all of your CSR communication in one place (like a resources page). This can include press releases, links to earned media, etc. While it may not immediately build awareness about your CSR efforts, it will help stakeholders and consumers locate information if they’re looking for it.

You know the philosophical question about the tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it? CSR works the same way. If no one knows about your brand’s CSR initiatives, they won’t see the good your company is doing. Take advantage of opportunities to share your CSR story and improve the public perception of your company.

To learn more about enhancing your communications campaigns, check out our RepTrak platform today.