Consumers everywhere are experiencing trust issues as economies start to reopen. No one knows exactly who to believe. Businesses that survive this economic and public health firestorm and then go on to thrive will be the ones that make the public comfortable being customers again. And that takes a brand fully fueled with trust.
So while reviewing your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program might not be top of mind right now, building (or enhancing) trust in your company and brands to position them for the other side of this crisis should be a top priority.
CSR has become table stakes for many consumers. Making those and other consumers comfortable is an absolute necessity for responsible businesses as we enter the Summer of COVID-19. Effective CSR programs do not have to be million-dollar endeavors, but they do need to meet several basic requirements:
Fill a void, ideally one that relates to you and your business: If you produce food create a commitment to help the hungry throughout the year, not just on holidays. How can your company and staff tutor, build, repair or help in ways unique to your company’s focus and culture?
Be a living, breathing program: We have all seen the photo opp: a corporate representative holding an oversized check for a large sum of money made out to a local charity. The sentiment is nice. The money certainly is appreciated. All too often, though, the well-meaning corporate benefactor has no plan for what to do next. An ongoing program with benchmark events throughout the year does more than just benefit the community—it becomes a part of it.
Have a community partner: Even when a community is a company’s “hometown”, no one knows the local challenges like the people and organizations who live them every day. Community partners make the process significantly more efficient and effective, often providing the human capital needed to help execute the program. School districts and local charities often serve as excellent community partners for CSR programs.
Speak for themselves: Good, well-executed CSR programs do not need a lot of “chest-thumping” promotion. The programs should (and usually do) speak for themselves. It is important, however, to document your CSR activities across your digital ecosystem.
Activate employee ambassadors: Beyond making a wage, research shows (along with being in tune with the times) that employees want to work for companies that have a heart and soul. Your CSR program can provide an avenue for them to feel a greater sense of mission while overtly sharing your values in your community. All while doing good.
During the best of times, thoughtfully crafted CSR programs are a smart way to earn a social license to operate that only the public can grant an organization. And when the unthinkable happens—like the COVID-19 pandemic—it becomes a necessity because it will build the trust needed to fuel your brand as we enter the Summer of COVID-19.
When the time is right, perhaps right now, let’s chat about how to protect and enhance trust in your brand. Contact us today.
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