So you have a CSR program that you are really excited about? Elated even, and you expect the same enthusiasm from others? You foresee people writing in for interviews and bloggers dying to get your story and media clamoring to feature you first.  Sadly, none of this happens. That’s not how things work, your PR would tell you; the momentum builds up slowly, the excitement grows gradually and the interest develops over time. I beg to differ; while there is no such thing as an overnight hit, there are steps you can take that would make sure the media is excited to hear about your program and write about it.

In this age of frenzied and fleeting attention spans, even without a CSR tag, it’s becoming increasingly hard to get media to give your story some valuable real estate and when it’s a story with claims to “save the world” and “build a better tomorrow” the media simply tunes it out. So, how do you get them to pay attention? Read on for my top tips for getting noticed by media and finally receiving the attention your awesome new CSR campaign deserves:

 1. Have something worth talking about:

I know it sounds very obvious but sadly too many companies just do not understand the value of a well-crafted CSR program and a well framed CSR message. Just because an idea seemed great in the board room does not mean it should be your focus for the year. If it does not address a real need and is being done by 20 other companies, your contribution would probably not be worthwhile. There are so many different ways to address a need and the companies who use innovation and ingenuity in addressing a real social need are the ones who get noticed and get the best results.

 2. Let your Program be your Message

The Paper Trail is a website that Domtar has created as not just a part of their sustainability initiative but it IS their sustainability initiative and it’s ingenious.  Customers can use paper trail to choose the product they have purchased and track the exact location and mill that it came from and also track the environmental impact in terms of water, transportation, greenhouse gases, waste, and renewable energy. This sort of message gets coverage without asking.

3. Get inside their heads

Do you have any idea how many pitches the media people get every day? I don’t either but I am willing to bet they are a lot and the last thing they need is another talking about what a great company they are and the billions being spent on the program. They also don’t want to see the name of the CEO crop up every fourth sentence. And most importantly they don’t want a story that sounds like an advertorial. The trick is to think like a journalist; what aspects would he or she find interesting? What areas of the program need more work? What is the change that the program is creating and how is it different from all the other programs out there? Include stories that reflect the need for the program or even better the impact of the program. 

 4. Talk impact not action

Most companies when talking about their community initiatives talk about what they are doing, the inputs and the actions. While it is good to talk about and be proud of what you are doing, what makes a story worth talking about is the output, the results, the kaboom!

If you have numbers, stats, testimonials to go with the kaboom, even better!

5. Let’s go organic

How much organic attention is your story getting, are people tweeting it because they consider it share worthy? Do independent bloggers wish to cover the story in their blogs because it talks about an issue that resonates with them? The simplest media pitch starts with you telling your own story on your own real estate (the company blog or social media pages) and seeing it resonate with people who share the same interests. This alone is evidence that it’s a story worth talking about.

 6. Mind your emotional benefit

Facts and figures are only half of the story and chances are that they alone won’t make you stand out in the crowd. But if you know how to make the reader feel part of the program or by giving them a chance to contribute, your chances of standing out and creating a unique emotional benefit are much higher.  The best CSR programs are those that help companies make emotional, values-driven connections with their stakeholders. If there are no emotions, there’s no story. Period.

I hope you found the tips helpful and please leave a comment if you have anything to add to this. Also, send me the CSR story that you are especially proud of and I will be happy to feature it on Good Business Sense.

Photo Credit: Stephen Poff via Flicker Creative Commons