I was recently asked by an organisation how their CSR agenda could be a differentiator in their industry. They were faced with the challenge of how the commitment they make to being a good citizen can cut through and resonate with their audiences. We work with many clients who have purpose at their core and also with clients who have embraced purpose as part of their corporate agenda.

Purpose has become an important issue for every organisation.  However, making sure that your citizenship commitment is authentic and that your efforts align to your core values is a key component to ensuring it resonates with the right target audiences.  Once you have the right citizenship focus or agenda, it’s at that point that you can come up with a platform or activity that will stand out from the others.

Our work locally and across the Porter Novelli network has thought us some things about communicating purpose:

  • Be connected to your organisational values: Partnering with organisations relevant to your values will give your message greater credibility, support your activations and act as a powerful communication to current and future employees.
  • Be relevant in the problem or societal issue you are addressing – both to the external and internal audiences. Then consider how your internal audience can get involved.
  • Be clear about your objectives: Everyone in the organisation must understand what you are trying to achieve beyond just giving back. Define your objective outside of the aim to be a better citizen and then ensure that any activity you undertake supports both better citizenship and your wider business objective.
  • Be in it for the long-term: Rome wasn’t built in a day and CSR strategies rarely deliver genuine cut-through overnight. It’s not about the big bang launch, it’s about the ongoing engagement and commitment to your purpose.
  • Be vocal: Talk about your values, your purpose, and your commitment to delivering that purpose. Don’t just talk about it in an annual employee town hall or a shareholder address, talk about at every occasion, in every touchpoint, media interview or team briefing.

Businesses are inundated by requests for sponsorship, support, and assistance. Being connected, relevant and clear about objectives will make it easier to say ‘no’ to the wrong opportunities as well as to say ‘yes’ to the right ones.

We are passionate about working with purpose-driven organisations to make a meaningful impact on business, brands and society.  So if your communications priority is not just about generating coverage but also about changing behaviours, let us know.

By Fiona O’Connor, Corporate Director