How do you make CSR more than a corporate tick-box?


The promise of providing ‘healthier, longer lives’ and promoting wellbeing is a claim synonymous with the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. But with so many companies saying this, how do you stand out from your competitors and add real value from your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity?

Here we examine how to use Digital to make the most of your CSR activity, which is a great way to bring these brand statements to life.

1. Integration. Often CSR activity will be managed by a specific team (most likely PR or Press Office) that may operate separately to the main Digital or Marketing team. Working closely with other departments will ensure that Digital is considered at the start of any project, ensuring it doesn’t end up as an after-thought with a slightly lacklustre microsite or, worse still, no digital presence at all. It often takes time to obtain a presence on the main website or social media pages, and this is something which is worth factoring into any project at the planning stage. Alongside the generic promises of focusing on consumer health and well-being on your website, it would be great to provide tangible evidence of this through a demonstration of CSR initiatives on your site page itself. It appears that very few healthcare companies are actually doing this, so to provide evidence of your commitment to well-being is a great point of difference.

With thanks to:

2. Get Social. Social Media can be a scary place for any brand, but for Healthcare companies in particular, with their strict sign off procedures and legal requirements, it can seem like something of a minefield. However, CSR activity is often a great way to take your brand into the Social sphere without getting bogged down with details on specific drugs or illnesses. Pfizer are doing a great job of this, sharing their work for various charities and demonstrating their leadership through the spear-heading of various charities, such as Parkinson’s Disease. Ensuring integration and providing a social ‘hook’ to these activities is a great way to raise awareness.

However think about this at the planning stage. Social media is much more about involvement than traditional marketing, therefore it’s important to think about how people can get involved, invite discussion and remember to factor in time to respond to people and maintain contact. Also consider the most relevant Social Media channel: LinkedIn for more B2B activities, whereas a YouTube channel and Instagram stories will be a great place to share videos, but keep them consumer-friendly (they’re not simply an advert). Also allow time to 'seed' your content with relevant groups and bloggers, who will share your content if they believe in and support it.

With thanks to: Pfizer

3. Be human. Focusing on your company’s employees is a great way to add a human face to your company and create an emotional connection with consumers. Use your website and your Social Media channels to showcase the charity work your employees are undertaking. This doesn’t always have to be a huge, company-wide initiative; photos of bake sales or charity runs are a great way to share achievements and make them feel valued as well. Your employees are often your main source of competitive advantage and showcasing their commitment to others’ healthcare will help humanise your corporation. Social Media is so often used to showcase individuals’ charity work (such as completing a 10K for Cancer research), so mirroring consumer’s natural online behaviour is an obvious way to help create emotional connections.

4. Think global. Often CSR activities will take place where they are most needed, within the developing world. Take advantage of the ability to now obtain and share content easily, even within these often difficult to reach markets. Mobile phones are great for recording and sharing content quickly and inexpensively. Also think about how you display the work you are doing, ensuring microsites/websites are responsive (designed to respond to any screen size, such as mobile phones or tablets). This is especially important in the developing world, which may have slower or more inconsistent broadband connection and are thus more likely to use smartphones.

5. Measure success. Data is king, but we are almost suffering from burnout with the amount of data available to us. Thinking about how you’re going to measure your campaign and making sure you learn something from your activity is crucial. As with any campaign, considering objectives will structure the activity itself as well as the metrics you should use for measurement. Are you are focusing on more attitudinal changes, such as sentiment towards the brand; or a specific response to desired brand positioning? Or is this campaign purely about reaching as many people as possible?

If you wish to measure attitude or behaviour change you may consider commissioning market research to measure the effect of your activity on this, rather than just the easier to obtain measures such as site visits, page views and social interactions (although these may also important). As with all measurement, it is the analysis of this data that is the important step, as figures alone tell us very little. As well as acting as a performance indicator for that campaign, it is important to take findings that will guide future activity e.g. did one Social Media channel out-perform others and should therefore be a focus for future activity.

Main image © Michael C Hughes