Telling Your CSR Story

Empathy, sorrow, awe, admiration—emotions such as these —or any emotion plays a central role in telling your story. Cori Streetman and Sarah Hogan of Barefoot PR (shown to the left in the first picture) assert that when describing your CSR programs, it is crucial to convey an emotional connection with your audience, along with a point that spurs further interest or action. This was among the nuggets of best practices that Cori and Sarah shared with B:CIVIC members at our August 30 Working Lunch, “Telling Your CSR Story,” hosted at CoBiz Financial. Barefoot PR, which brands itself as “public relations with purpose” brought a particularly relevant perspective to the program. The Working Lunch attendees, who represented CSR and communication professionals from many companies, also engaged in interactive exchanges to put the ideas from Barefoot PR into play.

Takeaway Tips:
Cori and Sarah covered a lot of ground in their presentation, and we can’t convey all their insight here, but a few interesting points of advice include:

Audience drives the story: Always consider who you are trying to reach and why, as that should color what you write or say.

Consider perspective:  Think about the various perspectives you could write from, whether that is the perspective of the employees involved in your CSR initiative, the people being helped and touched by your company’s engagement, the nonprofit staff energized to see they are not alone in the desire to help, the respect of your HR department when they see the influence that CSR plays in attracting attention from potential talent, or the viewpoint of a company vendor.

Small is good: Embrace the reality that small blurbs may be better received than a story that shares all aspects and facts of a program. Besides, you can repurpose a story later with a new angle and emphasis.

Follow the formula: Picture + Promise + Proof = Story. Tell the facts of who, what, how many (the Picture), etc., plus, give the reason for your company program, its commitment, its values (Promise), and then give the emotional connection of how the initiative made a difference in the world or someone’s life (Proof).

If you missed this program, watch for one of our future working lunches for B:CIVIC members. And if your company isn’t already a member, consider joining today.