Good News: CSR does more good than you may realise


By Liz Slack, senior PR account manager

Is CSR a regular part of your marketing mix? If not, then why not?

Maybe you think don’t have time for CSR activities? Or perhaps you do but don’t think it’s worth talking about? Well, think again!

Undertaking CSR activities as a company, no matter how big or small your chosen project or initiative, is beneficial from a business perspective as well as a from a social value point of view. It’s something that we see as being an important part of the PR and marketing toolkit, especially within the construction industry, where it’s becoming a key part of the tender process in certain sectors.

What does CSR stand for?

CSR, or ‘Corporate and Social Responsibility’ to give it its full name, is the umbrella term for any activities you undertake as a company to give something back to the communities you serve or the environment around you. It can range from small one-off activities arranged by one or two staff to large-scale all-encompassing campaigns that involve the whole company and potentially even your supply chain too.

The good news is you’re probably already doing activity that classes as CSR and if not, it doesn’t have to be a huge financial commitment or time drain for you to stand up and be counted.

What benefits does effective and considered CSR bring?

For a start, it can be a great way to engage with stakeholders including staff and your supply chain and get a conversation going.

When you invest in CSR activities as a way to make a difference to the world around you, no matter how big or small this commitment may be, it shows the values which are important to you as a company. If you can demonstrate to your clients that you are not solely driven by increasing profit margins, this can create positive perceptions of your company – over and above the quality of products and services you offer. Actions speak louder than words so if you want to show that you’re a company which cares about sustainability for example, then committing to invest time, money or resources into protecting the environment is a tangible way to highlight your good intentions.

Investing in delivering dedicated training for your staff and nurturing the next generation of your workforce through an apprenticeship programme or similar is not just good for the community and the wider construction industry – it also helps future-proof your business by plugging the skills gap. Again it’s a win/win situation and well worth any investment you may have made.

Highlighting company values through planned CSR activity has also been shown to help with recruitment and staff retention, especially if staff are actively encouraged to participate in activities or suggest initiatives. Company-wide activities of this type are a great away to create an engaged and loyal workforce.

Being able to show that you care goes a long way to securing repeat business and also winning new work in construction, whether you’re operating within the commercial, public or domestic sectors. Moreover, many organisations within the public sector in particular are increasingly keen to see a CSR element included as part of your pitch for work. Getting into the habit of including CSR as part of your day-to-day corporate activity will put you head and shoulders above your competitors when it is a requirement on a project. Not only that, but if you’re able to work with different parts of your supply chain as well as external organisations on such projects, it gives you the chance to forge new links which can in turn lead to lucrative new business opportunities.

How to include CSR within your communications strategy?

So, you’ve seen the benefits of CSR and got staff and suppliers’ support but should you tell everyone about it and how can you do this without looking like you’re after recognition for doing a good deed?

Including CSR within your marketing and communications strategy is an excellent way to improve your overall brand awareness within the market – if handled well. This sort of activity helps position your company as a caring and responsible business and provides a platform to talk about your company more generally to your customers. Positive social and corporate stories provide balance alongside product and project updates as part of your overall PR and marketing strategy.

But getting the tone just right when it comes to talking about all the great CSR projects and activities you’ve completed is key. You need to be mindful that it doesn’t appear that any CSR activity you’ve done was motivated purely by commercial gain but rather because it’s something which is genuinely important to you as a company.

And to make sure that you strike the right chord with any CSR activity, it’s vital that you carefully consider your approach in the first instance to make sure it aligns as closely as possible with your overall business objectives and values. Any CSR activity needs to fit within the scope of your business and expertise and ideally should be relevant to the sectors you serve. So long as you’re doing it for the right reasons though this will come across in your communications and will reflect well on your company as a result.

CSR marketing activity is brand-building, raising awareness – so should be a soft sell rather than explicitly promoting your products or services. PR pieces should be carefully pitched to strike the right tone and not make you appear disingenuous.

From a practical viewpoint, it’s worth remembering that if you’re working with a charity, organisation or partnering up with another company within your supply chain on a CSR project, that you follow any communications guidelines they’ve set. Joining forces on marketing is a great way to amplify the message and for all involved to reach as wide an audience as possible so you all benefit from the glow of good news.

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