How small businesses can drive social change and create an impressive public image
There was a time when doing good was left to those who ran charities, but in recent years we see a growing number of large corporations taking on corporate social responsibility initiatives, which are also known as CSR. You don’t have to own a wealthy corporation to make a difference in the world, however. You also don’t need to have a registered charity or foundation to make a meaningful contribution toward social change. Small business owners can easily incorporate charitable activities into their daily business and create an impressive public image in the process.
Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' - Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are many benefits to making social change part of your overall business strategy. Being known for the good you do is only one of them. Studies show that employees who work for companies that participate in CSR activities are more engaged than they otherwise would be. Also, employers who make CSR a priority are more attractive to job seekers. There will be less need to worry about having a shallow hiring pool or a high rate of employee churn if you can demonstrate that your company’s interests go beyond the bottom line. Studies also show that your CSR efforts are more likely to attract and retain more customers. Needless to say, it’s a win all around!
How can I inexpensively develop a corporate social responsibility program for my small business?
Even if you have only a few employees and a business that is moderately profitable, you can still have a CSR strategy. Consider your work on behalf of social change to be another way of branding and marketing your business. You will soon discover that conversations around your CSR initiatives allow you to engage more meaningfully with customers and earn you a whole new level of respect in your industry. Below are some steps to take to get you started.
1. Think of a cause that everyone can get excited about. Get employee input for this. Hold a meeting and get your employees to either take a formal or informal survey regarding things they are passionate about and charities they would like to contribute to. Passions bind people together, so the added bonus of having this conversation with your employees is that you now open the opportunity to increase the cohesiveness of your team.
2. If possible, match your cause to your industry. If the cause you are supporting matches your industry, it will make it easier to incorporate your efforts into your daily work routine and to speak about it to customers and prospects. For example, a print business might want to contribute to an environmental cause or even develop a literacy program for children and adults. A textile manufacturer or distributor could donate bedding or scrap material to make quilts for the homeless. Your activities are only limited by your imagination.
3. Partner with a charity that works in that arena. You don’t have to do all the work of setting up a foundation, like the big corporations do. Simply partner with an established charity and leverage their influence to promote your campaign. If it seems suitable, you can even offer incentives for their employees and affiliates to use your products or services.
4. Regularly communicate your involvement and activities in your internal and external communications. Make sure everyone knows what you do to support your community. CSR is really good for your business and you never know who else may want to contribute to your efforts. Ensure that all of your newsletters and communications vehicles speak to the good you are doing.
5. Get media attention. The more attention you bring to your cause the better. Garnering media attention in print, web, television and radio will help you maximize the effect of your efforts and will also serve to elevate your public reputation and drive sales. There’s nothing like killing two birds with one stone.
6. Make a video and post in on your website and on social media platforms. Capture your efforts on video and post it all over. A well designed video is an impressive way to tell the world how important your work is to you and it also allows others to see your commitment in action. That’s good PR!
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Mahatma Gandhi
My five favourite causes:
· Helping people with intellectual and physical disabilities
· Promoting adult literacy and education
· Providing support for abused women and other women in need
· Support for homeless and indigent people
· Feeding the poorI'd love to hear about some of your favourite causes and things you have done or would like to do to support them.
Few public relations & communications specialists have as diverse a background as Renée Cormier. Add published author, employee engagement specialist, sales and marketing strategist, entrepreneur and educator to her list of accomplishments. In her career Renée has held leadership roles in sales and marketing, developed and implemented national marketing strategies and was responsible for teams as large as 28 strong. She brings a wide range of experience and talent to her work.
Renée really shines in marketing communications. She is known for developing and implementing comprehensive communications strategies and generating results through flawless implementation. With such strong business acumen, passion for her work and a natural talent for business strategy, Renée is definitely considered an important resource for her clients. Is your business in transition? Do you need help with your communications or public relations efforts? Contact Renée through her website.
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