Program Recap: The Power of Corporate Social Responsibility—What Every PR Pro Should Know

By: Jenni Williams

Public relations can involve more than just writing press releases, counting media hits and working with clients. Creating and launching a corporate social responsibility strategy can greatly add PR to your organization, while positively impacting employee engagement and the bottom line.

The PRSA Tampa Bay recently learned about the PR side of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the chapter’s June meeting.

Kecia Carroll, CSR strategist with KC Roberg, kicked off the program with a presentation about corporate social responsibility. She highlighted companies that have a strong CSR presence, such as Ben & Jerry’s, TOMS and Patagonia, to name a few. Then, she went over the business approach and cited that companies with a strong CSR foundation can have a huge economic benefit over other companies.

Then she introduced Media and Community Relations Manager Brian West of Publix and External Communications Director Bobby Eagle of Tech Data to talk about CSR strategy at their companies.

West touched on Publix’s strong CSR foundation, one that has been around for decades. The company’s corporate focus lies in three areas—food insecurity, poverty and wellness. He’s had to try different ways of pitching CSR-focused events and programs. How you package it is key to success, West said. One strategy that has worked is to have the nonprofit partner lead the media pitch and tie in the corporate support. He found they get more media coverage this way.

For Tech Data, one of the world’s largest technology distributors, CSR is an evolving program. Eagle talked about how Tech Data’s CSR strategy is done through the lens of their core value focus—children, education and wellness. He touched on the concept of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), something is new to the CSR umbrella. Tech Data is working towards a solid ESG and developing metrics to measure it. Social media is huge tool to communicate what they are doing.

West and Eagle both said creating a CSR strategy is not easy and takes time. They recommend starting with the company’s mission, surveying what matters to the employees and how to make a difference.

The three B’s for CSR success:

  • Be genuine
  • Be creative
  • Be innovative

Most importantly, don’t give up. Over time, the speakers said, your CSR strategy will grow organically and make a lasting, sustainable impact. 

Return to list