Knowledge Centre

CSR Communications: Be Interesting or Be Quiet

#CSR, #Sustainability and #SDG communications are useless unless they are interesting.   So, tell stories and be engaging, or save your time and money and stay quiet.  Even #GRI Reports should be interesting!

Know why you are communicating.  Know who you are communicating to and make it interesting and engaging.  

Sustainability and CSR communications can deliver a huge value return for you, if you get the right message to the right audiences in ways they can understand and absorb.  If not, you are wasting your time and money, and probably their time too (if they even bother to read, watch or listen).

Of course, there will be facts, and you may have formats and frameworks you have to follow (e.g., complying with GRI Guidelines).  But, that is no excuse to be boring, or to lose the connection to value.

CSR and Sustainability communications should focus on value, the same way that your sustainability projects and budgets would.  Value for your business, value for the consumers of your communication and, where possible, value for your partners and stakeholders.

Sound difficult?  C’mon. CSR and Sustainability are interesting.  You are engaging people, families, communities, stakeholders and addressing important issues.  

Most CSR is full to the brim with engaging human-interest stories.  Tell them. And tell them in a way that brings alive the people involved and the value delivered to stakeholders, society and your project partners.

Be humble.  Be very humble.  Nothing turns people off more than a braggart.  Let your communications and your stories be about the impact on stakeholders and society; let it be about your partners and all they did to make the project successful.  Whatever you do, don’t make it sound like a donor/recipient charitable act – that diminishes beneficiaries and doesn’t do anything for you.

Perfection isn’t necessary, nor is it possible.  If you had challenges, acknowledge them. Talk about how you overcame them, or how you are overcoming them.  And, don’t forget to give credit to any and all that helped you overcome the challenge.

Want a secret credibility weapon to use?  Let your interests show. When your communications acknowledge your self-interest, they are much more credible.  After all, who would really believe that you, or any company, is doing all that good without some sort of self-interest.

When you make the stories interesting, when you portray beneficiaries as equals, when you share credit liberally with partners and collaborators, they will consume your communications enthusiastically, and will share them widely.  Especially if you use the secret sauce and acknowledge your own self-interest.

Use pictures and video to keep them interesting, and make sure that partners, beneficiaries, stakeholders and people feature prominently in them.

CSR and Sustainability communications and reporting is increasingly important to the success of your business and project.  Done properly and strategically they can create value. They can enhance your brand, facilitate stakeholder relations (internal and external), open and maintain market opportunities, support regulatory relationships and meet statutory and stakeholder requirements.

Prof. Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global sustainability expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and advisory service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.