Corporate Social Responsibility has become important for many companies, sometimes driven by the desire of doing something good, other times just as a means of gaining awareness. The public relations and marketing agency Cone Communications launches a new approach to CSR called Corporate Social ReturnSM based on their belief that corporate social responsibility should deliver measureable business, brand and social impacts thus meeting stakeholders’ expectations.
“This shift in stakeholder expectations carries significant implications for companies engaged in CSR,” said Jonathan Yohannan, Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President. “Purpose is no longer enough, and successful campaigns must demonstrate return for business, brand and society. ‘Proving purpose’ is the new mantra for effective CSR.”
84% of Americans consider that companies are accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments, according to the 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker which has just been released. Moreover, 86% of respondents are more likely to trust a company that communicates its CSR results, while 82% are more likely to buy something from companies that announce their CSR results. Also, 40% of the participants stated they wouldn’t buy products from companies that don’t communicate their CSR results.
“Companies need to build customized output and outcome measurement components and identify projected stakeholder return at the outset of campaign development, and then track progress along the critical CSR pillars of business, brand and society,” added Yohannan. “With the stakes so high, measurement can’t be an afterthought or add-on.”
The online survey was conducted on August 6-8, 2012 by ORC International among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,019 adults, 510 men and 509 women, 18 years of age and older. The 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker also revealed that 84% of people consider a company should also obtain a business return in order to be able to run some CSR programs. 63% of respondents said they don’t know where to find information about a company’s CSR efforts and results, while 55% don’t quite figure out what impact they have when they purchase something from a company that says it is socially responsible.
From the looks of it, one thing is clear: CSR is still a sensitive issue, for both companies and people. Cone Communications makes a smart move however by launching an approach aimed at showing results, as people are interested in seeing the final results of CSR programs.