10 Communication Tips to Produce the Best CSR Report Ever
One of your 2011 resolutions might be to publish or improve your company CSR Report. If you are not familiar with this exercise or are unsure how to properly communicate CSR data, you will find below 10 key tips that top companies are using and which will help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your report. The best practices have been collected by Craig Design & Communications and PricewaterhouseCoopers who studied “how effectively companies have communicated their CSR strategies and performance”. They summarized and published the results of their survey in the report “CSR Trends 2010”, which is downloadable at the end of this article.
OPTIMIZE YOUR CONTENT
1. Give a visual identity to your report…and therefore to your CSR approach. ”Create a consistent look and feel to all elements of communication to create a CSR brand”. Use the cover and back cover to deliver your message through a supporting theme and meaningful design, which you will support in the entire report. Remember: “A picture is worth a thousand words”!
2. Explain who you are and what you are doing. Publishing a corporate profile can “allow your readers to understand the scope of your activities, geographic footprint, operating structure and performance, financial strength and corporate goals. This allows them to understand the context in which your CSR strategies have been developed”. They will therefore better appreciate your results and performance.
3. Produce a separate summary of your full report. Some people just don’t have time to read an entire 60 page report, and a summary can help them get a relatively complete picture of your CSR activity in no time. Unfortunately, only 31% of companies are providing summaries to date.
4. Publish your CSR Framework. This includes your Code of Conduct, Guidelines to which you subscribe, organization of your CSR Committee and/or department, your governance structure, processes to manage your risks… etc
5. Assure your Report: Only “31% of companies have their reports assured”. Auditing and assuring your report by an independent third party and CSR experts will not only bring credibility and transparency to your approach, but also help your engage your stakeholders. Don’t fear criticism: “Assurance builds trust through oversight”.
PROVIDE SOME CONTEXT
6. Use case studies and testimonials: they will “illustrate your strategy in action, as well as the impact of your initiatives”. Don’t hesitate to produce them with your partners who help you achieve your results, and balance your story with stakeholders’ comments to “make it real”.
USE THE WEB
7. Publish your Report on your Corporate Home Page: You can’t convince people that CSR is now an integral part of your corporate strategy without publishing your CSR report on your corporate home page. “81% of all companies have CSR information on their websites, but only 50% draw attention to the information on the corporate home page”.
8. Create a special website for your report: Only “15% of companies produce and HTML version of their CSR Report”. This will not only make your results more attractive and interactive, but also “offset the financial and environmental impacts of printing reports”. It will also enable you to publish a shorter PDF version of your report. “Although the percentage of companies producing a CSR report jumped to 40% from 31% in 2009, the size of full reports declined from an average of 69 pages in 2009 to 60 in 2010 as more information migrates to the web”.
9. It’s time to tweet! If you are not using social media to talk about your CSR yet, you better start now. A recent study highlighted the fact that Social Media will become the future tool to spark a real dialogue around key sustainability challenges and “24% of companies already use social networks such as Twitter or Facebook for CSR Reporting”.
10. Engage your stakeholders: Use the web to spark a real dialogue with all your stakeholders, get their feedback about your report and actions, ask what questions they would like you to address and get new ideas. Wizness is the perfect tool for that!
Do you think of other tips not mentioned in this article? Don’t hesitate to share yours!
This report can also be found online onPricewaterhouseCoopers’s website.