Written by Ryan Ayers
In today’s corporate climate, social impact is a forefront concept that countless entities are scrambling to understand and implement. Many companies are working to incorporate mechanisms for social impact into their teams, processes, and ethos.
For this to be successful, however, the chain needs to include an effective PR strategy that communicates what is being done, how, and why. PR contributes to broader understanding and awareness and inspires further social impact efforts, making it a vital part of the process.
Corporate Sustainability: The Building Blocks of Social Impact
One of the primary tools corporations use to create social impact is a corporate sustainability or corporate responsibility plan. Corporate sustainability refers to consciously designing corporate operations and ideologies to take into account the way the entity impacts, both positively and negatively, a number of spheres both inside and outside the business itself. These spheres include the environment, internal and external stakeholders, economic stability, social issues, the entity’s local and national community, and more.
Companies often devise a plan that addresses one more of these spheres and implements strategies for creating positive impact in those areas. That could look like reducing a harmful or negative current impact, like eliminating the company’s release or disposal of harmful chemicals into the environment, or instituting a positive impact, like contributing funds to a local charity or developing an internship program that targets underserved populations.
Social impact doesn’t need to be labeled “corporate sustainability” to be effective and impactful. However, existing resources and language for corporate sustainability programs provide a helpful starting point for entities that want to incorporate social impact into the way they do business.
Why PR Professionals Are Vital to Social Impact
Companies across countless industries have implemented successful and long-lasting corporate sustainability programs. A number of entities out there are mobilizing their workforce, their influence, and their assets to accomplish tremendous social, economic, environmental, and/or communal good. However, when a vital part of the social impact process is neglected, the full potential of those mechanisms and actions will never be realized. This is where PR professionals come in.
Propelling effective social impact on a wide scale is greatly dependent on leveraging shared influence and best practice. Corporations that share the results of their social impact strategies inspire and support other entities as they create their own social impact frameworks. Without effectively publicizing and disseminating the news and stories of social impact, it would be much more difficult to create widespread impetus and momentum behind social impact engagement. Significant motivation is generated by seeing other entities take the step into corporate sustainability programs, which would be mitigated if the corporations that arrived first did not employ effective PR to spread the word. And effective PR strategies share helpful best practice that saves future entities the time and effort of trying to reinvent the wheel.
Thus, in addition to the tangible benefits PR professionals create for their own brands by effectively publicizing social impact campaigns, the work of sharing social impact via effective PR actually propels the effectiveness and adoption of corporate responsibility and sustainability strategies throughout the sector, making it a vital part of the process.
Tools of the Trade
PR professionals have a number of tools available at their disposal to share their corporation’s social impact most effectively. The power of data to demonstrate social impact shouldn’t be overlooked – in fact, strategically incorporating data into a social impact PR strategy can be an effective way of telling a compelling story to both internal and external stakeholders. Some of the biggest and most successful corporate conglomerates in the world effectively wield data to propel campaigns and brand messaging in fresh, accessible ways.
Other tools at a PR professional’s disposal to propel social impact campaigns include well-conveyed individual or corporate experiences. A tasteful case study sharing the story of a participant, employee, stakeholder, customer, or similar can make a social impact campaign personally relatable. And sharing the experiences of a group, the team, a community, or a group of beneficiaries can convey the scope of your corporate sustainability program and give onlookers a clearer picture of what is being accomplished.
Utilizing PR professionals and their skill for effectively sharing stories with the wider world is a vital part of any social impact campaign. If you are considering implementing a corporate sustainability program in your company or are a PR professional that is or will be involved in covering a social impact effort, it’s important to recognize the value PR adds to the social impact process and make sure resources are allocated to do this effectively.
Ryan Ayers is a researcher and consultant within multiple industries including information technology, blockchain, and business development. Always up for a challenge, Ayers enjoys working with startups as well as Fortune 500 companies. When not at work, Ayers loves reading science fiction novels and watching the LA Clippers.