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The Relationship Between CSR and PR

Published on November 14, 2019, at 8:20 p.m.

by Louise Margeson.

Today, more than ever, consumers want to invest their time and money in brands that are socially, ethically and environmentally conscious. According to a 2015 study, “91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than just turn a profit, but also operate to address social and environmental issues.” Accordingly, there has been a major increase in the use of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives among Fortune 500 companies and startup brands alike. By identifying effective partnerships based on shared values, brands have the ability to make a major impact, not only on their relationships with consumers, but on society as a whole.

Lauren Reveley, who considers herself a “marketing activist,” is on a mission to do just that. Reveley is the founder and CEO of Rose Street Creative, a marketing and public relations agency based out of Laguna Beach, California, that seeks to spotlight, grow and scale companies that are actively giving back. Through services such as content development, event marketing and brand recognition, Rose Street Creative helps brands use CSR to establish and maintain loyal relationships with their consumers.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

According to Reveley, “CSR is something that can be beneficial for every single company, no matter the size, the scale, the goals or the product, and it can be customized to the brand.”

In terms of campaign generation, Rose Street Creative begins with its client’s values, mission and vision. “It’s a lot like freshman year English class: ethos, pathos and logos,” explained Reveley. “We want to connect with consumers on an ethical level to convince them that we are credible. Next, we want to appeal to their emotions. What does our market care about? How do they want to make a difference? Lastly, we want to appeal to the consumer’s logic. A really important part of establishing a strategic partnership is that it makes sense in a way that stays true to a brand’s mission.”

One of the largest advantages of establishing a CSR initiative is its influence on a brand’s relationship with its target market. Campaigns that exhibit longevity are typically the most effective, according to Reveley.

“The best partnerships are not just a one time thing — it’s not just one magazine article, press release or sponsored event. They last years. They can grow with a brand, sometimes even throughout the lifetime of that brand. Every company wants consumer loyalty, but at the end of the day, if you want loyalty, you have to exhibit loyalty,” she explained.

Church’s Chicken’s partnership with No Kid Hungry, an organization that aims to end childhood hunger in the United States, exemplifies the effectiveness of a long-term campaign that “makes sense.” Church’s initially partnered with the nonprofit in 2016, and is now approaching the $1 million mark in donations. In 2018, this accomplishment earned the fast-food brand No Kid Hungry’s first Newcomer of the Year Award.

This partnership was the first time the food retailer rolled out a consumer-facing promotion, which was executed in all of the company’s owned restaurants, as well as a select number of participating franchise locations.

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“Through this partnership, we learned that this was a cause that our team members could rally around. We got a lot of positive feedback, not only from the people that work in our restaurants, but from the customers that visited them,” said Georgia Margeson, director of creative services at Church’s Chicken. “Our target market is lower to middle income level families, and these are the people that benefit from the programs that No Kid Hungry establishes.”

Initially, the core component of this promotion was Church’s sale of coupon booklets, which were a dollar each and included over $20 in savings. However, due to the program’s success, the company has incorporated a more hands-on approach to the CSR initiative. At Church’s yearly leadership conference in Houston, Texas, hundreds of general managers came together from all over the country to pack backpacks of nonperishable items to deliver to schools within the community.

By strategically partnering with No Kid Hungry, Church’s approach to impact serves as a direct reflection of its values — and the values of its customers, employees and management. The brand is able to give back to its communities and get its target consumers involved in a cause that is important to them.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“This partnership is a great fit for us, so, in 2019, Church’s decided that No Kid Hungry was going to be our sole cause in terms of CSR initiatives,” stated Margeson. “Any money we raise internally or through consumer-facing promotions is going to go back to the nonprofit.”

Companies that are socially conscious will continue to stand out as younger generations recognize the importance of investing in brands that value CSR and want to make a positive impact.

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