You have a few minutes to spare and you go onto a corporate website to check out their sustainability credentials. You are likely to be faced with screens of bland assurances backed up by indecipherable facts, figures and acronyms. So far, so dull.
As organisations seek more authentic and engaging ways to reach their audiences on their corporate social responsibility activities, we’re beginning to see a trend emerging where companies sponsor or contribute to broadcast programmes about issues which directly impact their business. A recent example was a Working Lives series produced for BBC World News channel which covered the way business deals with different forms of human trafficking such as child labour. The series features a number of companies, including Manpower, Kuoni, Gap, and Marks & Spencer, who discuss the way they have devised CSR policies to deal with such challenges. The series was sufficiently successful that a second has been commissioned.
This makes for a potentially powerful way of engaging stakeholders by linking the power of great documentary film making, companies’ corporate responsibility policies and the real life impact of those policies ‘on the ground’ as it affects people, their communities and the environment.
As this trend develops, we would also expect this content-rich, editorially robust approach to provide a perfect springboard for online debate amongst interested stakeholders with contributing organisations joining the discussion. This could extend the life of, for example, a campaign and allow the company to demonstrate its wider corporate responsibility credentials.
This all seems a million miles away from the often turgid, static and one-way content of so many corporate responsibility communications. In this multi-channel world where content is king, it’ll be interesting to see which organisations take up the baton and start to more boldly embrace the new media landscape in this arena.
And for the Marketing Director, this will probably cost around the same as an ad slot during the Coronation Street break.