Marketing your CSR program as an integral part of your brand.

A new corporate insurance: Do good and talk about it. In detail.

Here at ZLRIGNITION we’ve enjoyed seeing national brand work which focuses on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Just this week, AdWeek featured Pantene’s efforts to bolster women’s image in American culture as unapologetically equal to their male counterparts. The ad had nothing to do with its shampoo and everyone loves it.

It’s true: The research is mixed on whether or not CSR marketing has immediate returns. It will likely strengthen affinity for current brand loyalists and customers. It likely won’t get you new customers today. But reputation management isn’t just about maintaining good will with your customers or gaining new market shares. It’s about insuring your brand against the unexpected; the employee gone wrong or the product recalls you never saw coming.

In a study conducted by researchers at UC Berkley, stock prices were used as a proxy for various companies’ reputations. When examining these stock prices over a15 year period, Fortune 500 companies that experienced a crisis, but had properly executed CSR programs saw stock prices decline significantly less than those companies in crisis that did not have such a program (Minor & Morgan, 2011).

The key to this kind of insurance is in the execution. Study after study indicates the efforts are completely wasted, even with current customers, if your CSR programs aren’t 1) authentic and 2) presented in detail and in context (Pomering, Johnson, & Noble, 2013).

ZLR can’t help you much with the authenticity pieces. If you’re not really interested in corporate social responsibility, don’t claim you are. In fact, it could hurt you more than help you.

If you genuinely want your brand to be associated with serving the greater public good and insure your company against future crisis, contact ZLRIGNITION and we’ll use our research based approach to public relations and branding to help you share your good works in detail and in context.

Minor, D., & Morgan, J. (2011). CSR as Reputation Insurance: Primum Non Nocere. California Management Review, 53, 40-59.
Pomering, P., Johnson, L., & Noble, G. (2013). Advertising corporate social responsibility; Results from an experimental manipulation of key message variables. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 18(2), 249-263.