Nearly every major company has touted the ways that they “give back to the community,” be it on a local or a national scale, but what does that actually mean? Corporate social responsibility is a key public relations tool, but it’s also the key to ensuring that your company doesn’t fall prey to an “us vs. them” mentality from the locals. There are a few key things to remember when emphasizing corporate social responsibility as a tactic – read on to learn more!

Help out with the local causes that are unique to the community.
Everyday people simply don’t trust large corporations, especially in today’s economy. Consider holding events that are strictly local, and not tied into any national or international company agenda. These events could include volunteering at local charities, holding in-office fundraisers for local causes, or cleaning up a local waterway or park. The careful emphasis here is ensuring that your employees are involved with local, lesser-known causes—causes that may not matter to your company as a whole, but are deeply personal for the members of your community.

Ensure that at least some of your media outreach focuses on smaller outlets.
If you can get mentioned on the front page of the New York Times, that’s great! But chances are that won’t make your company more approachable to smaller communities. Consider reaching out to local outlets – evening news, bi-weekly papers, local non-profit magazines, or even school papers can all be great ways to increase your impact in a strictly community-based setting. People will automatically categorize your company with the rest of the local content, mentally embedding you into the local scene.

Keep it up when no one is watching.
This is perhaps the most important aspect. Corporate social responsibility is all about how you and your company behave when the cameras aren’t flashing. If your employees are going around kicking puppies and torching playgrounds, it doesn’t matter how many times you’re photographed planting trees and volunteering. Steer yourself, your colleagues, and your company on a path of ethical conduct, and you are more likely to succeed in broadcasting that image to the world. Corporate social responsibility is more than just a tactic – it’s a way of doing business that will help foster a sense of community and goodwill.

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February 27, 2013


You make good points about how to have a local community presence. Something else to consider is asking what is needed or wanted at the local level. To come in as the deus ex machina may not be appreciated, and it is the local folks who know best what they need. (The ill-conceived Romney campaign soup kitchen photos come to mind.)

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