David Coethica's Blog

Demand more good.

Posts Tagged ‘reputation

Could Weakness Become Your Opportunity?

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A lesson in the art of vulnerability, or how to click with your ‘date’ using Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

One of those socially invisible bleached out pachyderms insists that companies should constantly defend a cloak of presented perfectionism. As the corporate communications functions of businesses tentatively emerge, like the first struggling amphibians out of the water from the control and broadcast mentality, we are seeing fascinating case studies and pockets of enlightenment.

Does anybody believe businesses are perfect? Does anybody think they even come close, ever? The countless surveys and reports on reputation and brand perception suggest Read the rest of this entry »

Natural Born Social Good Evangelist

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Moderating at Lundquist CSR Online Awards, Milan 2014.

 

It’s time to stop over-thinking and speed up the doing, and change is in the air.

Nine years after escaping the carnival that is the business of sport, with many, many commercial lessons learned, and a tough personal 12 months, the moment I hit the ‘Publish’ button a new era begins.

No huge upfront fanfare at this point, merely a few noticeable differences to the way things will be done around these and associated online and offline parts.

The short version is that the original experiment that was Coethica both excellently failed and stealthily succeeded. I did begin the introspection behind the evolution two years ago and the headline (underlined in bold) awakening was that I was an explorer, communicator, evangelist and educator that hardly ever got to play to my personal strengths.

Not great for business. Not good for me. Not any more.

The experiment with social media worked way beyond my wildest dreams creating multiple exciting, and often distracting new tangents, which ironically should have been a bigger part of the direction from the beginning.

So now with a personal account overflowing with social capital from 17 years of a wildly varied social good career that includes over 6 years of social media curation, content creation, network building and engagement, it’s time to spread my wings further, aim higher and fly faster.

I’ll be able to share the new clients and projects soon but I should mention I’d love to have one or two more technology companies in the new communications based portfolio.

Business needs to step up its game and here’s a few examples of what you see me doing differently.

  • As a brand ambassador / evangelist
  • Speaking and moderating at events
  • Supporting world-changing non/low-profits

… all with a stronger focus on leadership, education and innovation.

Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be more formally announcing the new services, and new clients, and I’d really appreciate your support by adding your knowledge to any best practice and thought leadership I find and share on my increasing travels through all things social good (including CSR, sustainability, social enterprise, non-profits etc).

To find out how I can help your organisation or for speaking engagements send me a direct email via david.connor@coethica.com or get in touch via Twitter at @davidcoethica.

 

 

 

CSR for Smaller Businesses – Communication

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Judging by the response and comments the 10 Top CSR Tips for Small and Medium Sized Businesses post was a huge success.

 

The next few posts in this series are going to focus on more tips across particular themes within the CSR agenda and include Environment, Employees & Workplace, Suppliers, Community Engagement, Charity / Good Causes and Communication.

 

I’m still trying to keep the management jargon out to make this as easy to implement and see results as soon possible. I will also look to widen the discussion beyond pure commercial returns and address the other environmental and social benefits to reinforce why all businesses can, and need to play their part.

 

 

This week’s topic is:

 

 

CommunicationBoy making a funny face

 

I’ve bypassed Environment and Employees even though these are probably the two biggest areas to look at in terms of actions and gone straight to Communication. The reason for this is simple. Almost every small business (not all, there are a few baddies out there!) is already engaging in nuggets of ad hoc or reactive great CSR initiatives but most don’t know or understand them fully. I’m focusing on communication because everybody can benefit today, right now.

 

To help you understand this I need you to take 10 minutes to ask yourself the following questions.

Please take the effort to write your answers down on recycled paper:

 

1.   Has your organisation ever given cash or support to a charity or good cause? This includes allowing employees to fundraise on work time, local junior sports clubs, churches etc.

2.   Do you recycle or have you reduced your energy usage or waste in any way?

3.   Has your organisation ever gone beyond basic legal requirements to recruit, improve productivity or retain your employees?

4.   How do you select a supplier? Is it just about best price or do you use only local businesses, or consider environmental issues?

5.   Does your organisation have a formal or informal list of values about how you should operate on a daily basis?

6.   Has your organisation ever helped another business out without asking for payment?

 

 

I’m no clairvoyant or magician but I think your piece of paper has a few notes.

 

The big question is who have you told and how did you tell them about these great initiatives? I know small businesses don’t have marketing departments or external agencies, or in most cases even somebody internally responsible for marketing. This should be everybody’s responsibility. Most marketing people don’t really understand how best to use this ammunition anyway.

 

 watercooler

Rule 1 – Just Do It!

 

So how do we avoid missing the moment, getting stung with a ‘greenwash’ label or sticking our head too far above the parapet? My rule of thumb is, if you’ve acted on your best intentions, achieved something real with integrity and you feel comfortable with that – go for it! It’s in the owners / managers / shareholders interest to raise the company profile whenever possible! It’s also great for raising the profile of any worthy cause you support.

 

 

Rule 2 – Be Selfish

 

The first thing you need to do with any good news is put it on your own website, Facebook page, Twitter, notice board, note by watercooler – whatever you control yourself. It’s your news. Wouldn’t your customers like to hear it from you first, as well as backed up by another source?

 

 

Rule 3 – Tell Everybody

 

Don’t just focus on getting media coverage with a view to increasing sales. Put as much effort into telling everybody internally (employees) and close connections (suppliers, customers). Use your newsletter (or start one), sales PowerPoints, notice boards, team meetings, employee handbook – everywhere! One good tip is to identify the company gossip and get them involved in the initiatives themselves!

 

 

Rule 4 – Befriend the local media

 

You don’t need a PR agency or marketing department to ring the local paper and say ‘hello who would be interested in this story?’. Local coverage is usually free and great advertising. I would strongly encourage somebody to actually ring, not email and make a personal connection with the best person you can at the local paper or radio – even in today’s online dominated society. It may even cost you a whole lunch. Good stories in the local press can get picked up nationally – don’t underestimate the local press! You may not get instant direct sales from this but it will seriously begin to build your company’s reputation.

 

 

Rule 5 – Get others to do your work

If you’ve delivered a project with a partner or good cause get them to help with your profile. They will probably have their own media opportunities and networks you can use, as long as you’ve spent the time to build a good relationship. Charities have big databases and PR expertise!

 

 

local-paperRule 6 – The media prefer bad news

 

After 8 years winning awards for Everton Football Club by creating ground-breaking community projects I know how hard it can be to get press coverage for anything ‘good’. Bad news sells papers unfortunately. There has to be an angle or human interest story to get the media hooked. Try to be creative. Focus on an individual member of staff or person / project that benefited and their personal story, rather than trying to sell the business advert every time – people (and the media especially) want to read about people. Always include basic contact details such as company name, website, logo or phone number somewhere and hope it makes it past the editing!

 

 

Rule 7 – Word of Mouth

 

In my opinion, this is one of the best ways of communication for building reputation. It’s not great for selling directly but absolutely fantastic for a slower burn and credibility. Your aim is to get people talking about you as much as possible. You have to give people something talk about even if you company isn’t the big story. A bit part in a big story can work wonders.

 

 

Rule 8 – Complaints are wonderfulgreenpeace-activist

 

Whenever you talk about most areas of CSR you can easily stimulate passionate discussion, especially as humans we enjoy catching people out. Conversation can head toward climate change, sweatshops, sexual harassment and many emotive subjects. Grasp this opportunity with both hands, don’t be afraid of this. As I said earlier, if it’s a good initiative done with best intentions go for it. You may well find an awkward individual intent on loudly disagreeing or attempt to turn the story around for their own ends. Treat this like any customer complaint and engage in an open, honest communication and you could

potentially have a great salesperson in the making

if handled well.

 

Okay, that was probably as much PR for dummies as CSR.

 

Just remember if your business sees something tangible from your CSR initiatives they are more likely to do it again and hopefully bigger and better, which is great news for all those issues out there that need our help. It’s just about identifying the best win-win scenarios for everybody.

 

 

What suggestions have you got to help smaller business communicate to get the most out of the CSR approach?

  

          

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