By Dinesha Rogers
On Tuesday, May 19th, the Professional Development Committee and representatives from Powell Tate, welcomed a room full of attendees for an extremely knowledgeable and captivating discussion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as Social Impact Communications. The amazing expert panelists included:
- Samantha Lasky, Director of Communications, Citizenship and Sustainability at AT&T
- Jade Floyd, Director, Communications at The Case Foundation
- Catie de Montille, Vice President at Powell Tate
After a great introduction by WWPR’s President, Avelyn Austin, the panelists began to discuss emerging issues. Moderator, Victoria Baxter, Senior Vice President/Management Supervisor at Powell Tate, commenced the discussion by first posing the question of how CSR is defined. Each panelist gave their own take on what CSR both encompasses and proposes. Catie de Montille stated, “In a corporate space, CSR has seen a lot of evolution overtime. There’s been a big shift towards making sure your CSR investments are integrated into business practices and strategies. This is how we judge and move strategically with our campaigns.” On the contrary, when looking at CSR through a different lens, Jade Floyd focuses more on philanthropy investments. “Millennials, especially, want to work for companies that have philanthropy and business. When we look at the intent of companies we invest in, we want to make sure these companies are focusing on the people, profit, and purpose/planning.”
The next topic of discussion shifted to the impact of social purpose, or storytelling communications, when discovering the intent of a company through using content from a consumer’s viewpoint. The panelists expressed how the various avenues we talk to consumers through, including media content, social channels, and employees, have shown their value of social platform trends when transferring direct to consumer messages. Social media is the biggest platform for digital planning and audience engagement in products and companies. Developing content and connecting with multiple audiences can be challenging. Samantha Lasky communicated how, “There is a limited amount of content. Think of ways to repurpose content to reach different audiences. Make it personal!”
Along with understanding that defining a target audience is key before any social engagement, another essential mechanism was geared towards reporting and transparency in companies. Although reporting social engagement is not always easy and understandable to the broader audience, measuring the success of programs and campaigns is imperative when developing future pitches or topics. Catie de Montille noted, “…with transparency comes more risk. We do a lot of scenario planning to prep for what people might say. So, have a plan in place to rationalize any backlash from a certain audience.”
In an effort to maximize skills and best practices for effective social impact communications, the panelists offered a few pointers:
- Value your audience and be willing to constantly learn.
- Be flexible, adapt and quickly learn new tools and techniques.
- Be a bridge builder and connector.
- Be able to multitask and understand the importance of communicating within and externally.
With CSR’s goal to aid an organization’s mission as well as serve as a guide to what the company stands for to its consumers, the panelists shared a great deal of knowledge on ways to be adaptable and look across the board at all the different ways you can make an impact within your organization. They also instilled the importance of having conversations across different sectors to learn and share best practices among organizations. Samantha Lasky shared, “There are a lot of ways to make an impact. It’s important to have people who believe in CSR in different fields and disciplines.”