CSR PR, (Corporate Social Responsibility PR) is becoming more valued than ever – but many businesses are still not taking this seriously. We highlight some of our most loved campaigns and hope they might inspire you to consider what you could do, to make a difference to the communities of your customers.
Our MD recently wrote a post on LinkedIn on why CSR PR is key for businesses really wanting to make an impact through their PR & Marketing this year, as customer mindsets are changing and it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to illustrate the authenticity of your brand. A token nod to CSR in your annual report is no longer enough – activity needs to be integrated into the business, at its core.
Here are a few examples of CSR PR in action that we’re pretty proud of, and we hope they may inspire you too.
1. Greenhouse, Leeds
A CSR dream, this is a development in South Leeds created by sustainable developers, Citu. Community is always at the heart of what they do as a business that has built a brand around sustainability in the broadest sense of the word. A regeneration project at the core, Greenhouse brought to life an old derelict building that had been once an integral part of the neighbourhood. It set out to attract residents who wanted to do their bit for the planet, and who valued being a part of a like minded community.
We worked closely with the Citu team to launch Greenhouse in 2010 and PR activity and CSR focused events played a key role in bringing the brand to life, highlighting, in real terms, what Greenhouse stood for. This was key on day 1 to set the tone of the brand, but also on an ongoing basis, and CSR is still at the core of the Greenhouse community today. Below are just a handful of examples of how CSR PR helped illustrate brand values.
> Taking pride in the local neighbourhood and getting hands dirty
Helping people to see how they can live more sustainably is a key mission for Citu. By providing Greenhouse residents with local allotment space, they helped build pride and a sense of ownership amongst the volunteers that tended the grounds – and people learnt how to grow their own plants and vegetables.
Residents came together, with local community members, take responsibility for the land and to grow flowers and food produce that then were used in the Greenhouse Deli. This not only generated a strong sense of community, and provided great website and social media content, to illustrate brand values to potential residents, it attracted local and national media attention, getting people talking about sustainable living, based on ‘young people doing it for themselves’.
>Bringing people together
Greenhouse created quite a stir in the local community. A defining feature on the landscape that had risen from a piece of history, it evoked mixed emotions from the local neighbourhood. One of Greenhouse’s values is about being inclusive and the team was keen to ensure it was bringing something to everyone locally, not just those who lived there. We ran a number of open events at Greenhouse where members of the local community joined residents to celebrate Greenhouse’s launch, first birthday and The Royal Wedding, ensuring local community organisations were showcased and supported as part of the activity. We also opened the doors for The Big Lunch (a national initiative to get people to know their neighbours) and turned off the lights to celebrate Earth Hour promoting the benefits of being mindful of electricity usage.
Attracting local community members, MPs, and media these events were fantastic for providing first hand experience of what Greenhouse is all about.
> Supporting local community
As well as events within Greenhouse, Citu regularly support community events and organisations such as Beeston Festival and Beeston in Bloom. Recognising that the importance of these locally, and showing a commitment to inputing into them, is key to really being accepted in the local neighbourhood.
> Sharing a philosophy, educating audiences, fuelling debate
A key strand of the PR for Greenhouse has always been focused on getting people talking about building better futures and changing habits for more sustainable living, supported by Citu’s wider remit of bringing new life to old buildings.
This was embraced in many ways. PR to illustrate how many cups of tea could be made from the wind turbines sat alongside events where we hosted Hilary Benn and the BBC looking at the impact of eco-living, and TV’s George Clarke joined us with Channel 4 as part of his Regeneration series, as we gathered people to look at how, as a neighbourhood, regeneration of local run down properties could be tackled. The purpose was to get people talking, and get people talking it did.
We generated consistent, creative PR, using this array of content at our fingertips and helped Citu win a whole trophy cabinet full of awards, from illustrating and celebrating a brand’s connection with its community.
Next Week: How we helped Skipton Building Society create and run an award winning CSR programme.