Reality Check: Your Philanthropic Efforts Probably Won’t Make the News

Voluteer group of people for charity donation in the park

It’s time to face a cold, perhaps sobering truth: your company’s charitable efforts aren’t going to generate much traditional media coverage.

But that doesn’t mean charitable endeavors can’t have PR benefits.

Customers want to feel good about the companies they do business with. And in today’s online- and social media-centric world, companies have plenty of opportunities to show the ways they’re contributing to the greater good.

More demand for corporate social responsibility
First things first: a company should never undertake a charitable campaign for the sake of publicity. It should always be something a company would do even if no one outside of the company ever learned about it. It has to stem from a genuine passion for the cause and come from a place of real authenticity. It will be painfully obvious if it doesn’t.

But in the current business climate – especially with the rise of millennials as consumers and employees – businesses understandably do feel some pressure to promote the ways in which they give back. According to the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, 87 percent of millennials say their purchasing decisions are influenced by a company’s corporate social responsibility efforts.

Similarly, 63 percent of millennial women and 45 percent of millennial men say their decisions about job offers are impacted by the employer’s corporate social responsibility work (CSR), according to the Six-Month Research Update to Achieve’s 2014 Millennial Impact Report.

Lots of outlets
To lots of companies, highlighting their charitable endeavors means securing an article in the local newspaper or trade press, or even getting some coverage on the local television station. Unless your initiative is of a truly unusual scale, that’s just not going to happen.

Still, a company can inform current customers as well as prospects of its charitable efforts through social media posts and its corporate blog. It can even put out a press release on the wire, although the purpose of doing so is not to secure traditional media coverage but to have information about the charitable initiative show up when someone searches the company.

A charitable initiative can have a PR benefit beyond social media and Google imprints as well. Through good old-fashioned word of mouth, news of a company’s charitable efforts can travel through a community and increase the goodwill toward a company.

In the end, executives who dream of hoards of television cameramen descending on their Charity Day event are bound to be disappointed. But that doesn’t mean these endeavors can’t strengthen a company’s relationships with its customers and the broader public.

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