As corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications continue to grow in popularity, the bar for reporting is raised higher and higher.
Telling your company’s story through a CSR report, which was once considered the primary end in itself, is increasingly becoming just one component of a full sustainability communications strategy. Capturing public attention with dynamic content and harnessing public participation through online interaction are increasingly prevalent trends in the CSR community. As more and more companies expand their sustainability reporting efforts, these trends will lead companies in a more dynamic and interactive direction.
Capturing Public Attention
As one of the world’s most prominent media companies, we may have expected UK-based Virgin Media to communicate their sustainability efforts through a video-based website. But even non-media companies are employing videos and interactive web content to attract audiences for their sustainability stories.
For example, U.S. companies like Burt’s Bees and Walmart pepper in video footage to their online CSR reports to highlight particular aspects of their operations. And companies like Gap and Dole have created dynamic web-based maps on their CSR sites to offer their consumers visual glimpses into the factories and farms behind their products.
Entertaining, “behind-the-scenes” video footage can capture public interest better than lengthy traditional written CSR reports, and may help to make stakeholders feel more connected to a company’s operating principles and on-the-ground working conditions. Increased use of entertaining video content does pose a risk, however: by reducing complex issues to short video segments, how can we be sure we are seeing the full picture of a company’s sustainability performance?
Companies endeavoring to generate interactive content will have to navigate this issue, and find ways to ensure that their story is not reduced to selective sound bytes. We may...