September 28, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Using media monitoring for CSR efforts

Using media monitoring for CSR efforts

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a well-established practice across a wide range of business types, sizes, and locations. Loosely defined, CSR efforts tie into a company’s business by either reducing its impact on the environment or by providing a benefit to society. Typically, these efforts are linked in some fashion with the business itself, such as restaurant or food companies working with anti-hunger programs.

Thinking about CSR as being “answered” by initiating a single company program is probably too narrow a way to view it—many consumers see corporate social responsibility as an important part of their brand selection, particularly Millennials, who are some of the strongest consumer supporters of CSR efforts.

This presents both opportunities for brands, and potential dangers—and using media monitoring can help to reveal each, so they can be addressed and incorporated into plans.

How to use media monitoring for CSR

Setting up monitoring search terms should of course include the names of any formal CSR initiatives a company has established. But equally important are monitoring the issues that led to the selection of the effort.

  • Monitor for changes in public perceptions of your CSR issue or issues. Topics and public attention can change over time, and monitoring for changes in attitudes can help a company either adjust its CSR programs or its messaging to keep up with these changes.
  • Monitor for changes in the science that supports your issues, if applicable. This is a big one, because science changes—often. Each new study that comes out can shift understanding, and it is better to be ahead of that curve than behind it.
  • Monitor for attention and response. Are your CSR issues getting the attention you think they should? If not, monitor for the broader topic at large and see how people are talking about the issue. Getting more attention for your efforts might require adjusting the language you are using to talk about them.
  • Monitor celebrities and influencers who champion your issues. Celebrities command attention, and it’s important to know what they are saying on the topics important to your company. Positive or negative—what one might say could have an impact on your issues.
  • Monitor for emerging issues. This can be tricky because it can feel a little bit like trying to predict the future—but it’s still worth developing a monitoring strategy around it. For example, consumers started paying attention to media stories about the conditions of laying hens and asking about cage-free eggs a few years ago. Now, almost every fast-food chain in the country has committed to moving to cage-free eggs for use in their restaurants. The ability to see this trend, and plan for it, plays into CSR efforts and responds to consumer demand.

Monitoring for CSR isn’t that different than monitoring for other issues faced by a company, but it does require careful attention to how issues are being framed and how they are changing. If companies are going to commit to socially responsible practices, they need to embrace how these issues can change over time and be ready to adapt. Monitoring can help make these changes seem less sudden—if you have the information at hand, you can plan.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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