Although 82 percent of Americans expect companies to report on the progress of their social and environmental efforts, only 17 percent of Americans say they have read a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report in the past 12 months, according to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study.
The study says when it comes to what forms CSR data and commitments should take, Americans feel brief written summaries (42 percent), interactive websites (36 percent) and videos (29 percent) are more effective than comprehensive written reports (18 percent). These preferred formats signal the broader challenge for companies to make their CSR data more accessible, dynamic and compelling to secure a larger return on investment.
Here are five tips from Cone Communications to get all stakeholders involved in your CSR reporting.
- Innovate Formats: CSR content should take many forms — a long-form report is just one execution. Turn CSR data and metrics into infographics or social media “badges,” transform static stakeholder quotes into videos or build a custom app for your sales teams to share CSR commitments on the road.
- Tell More Stories: Although CSR reports are typically chock-full of data and figures, it’s important to balance these metrics with the amazing stories behind successes and progress. In fact, 66 percent of Americans believe a combination of both numbers and/or data and stories of impact are equally important when learning of company CSR commitments or results.
- Build for Fun, Interaction and Ease: Don’t let your readers’ eyes glaze over from too many static charts and pages of text. Americans want an engaging and uncomplicated experience, whether that’s achieved through a dynamic website or simplified look and feel. Take advantage of navigational toolbars, hyperlinks and scannable content so readers can zero-in on the content they most want to read. Build out websites with a mix of video, images, interactive charts and more to keep readers engaged and interested.
- Get Social: Americans spend more time on social media than any other major internet activity, including email. So make your CSR reports a part of the social experience. Go beyond slapping a Facebook icon at the top of your webpage and build social components right into your report. Encourage and enable readers to share data points, information on commitments and more as they read – pre-populate posts for an even easier social sharing experience.
- Make it 365: In today’s world, things can change in hours or even minutes, so don’t wait an entire year to talk about your company’s CSR progress. Companies can make reporting real time by pulsing out information throughout the year, especially around major milestones. Think of CSR reports as turn-key content calendars; create a plan for the entire year while also responding in the moment to news or developments.
Last month global consultancy Corporate Citizenship published a paper that identifies four key trends reshaping the CSR reporting landscape.