Click Here To Purchase Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand

Author: Kellie A. McElhaney (Berrett-Koehler, 2008)

ISBN-10: 1576754413:  ISBN-13: 978-1576754412

 Publisher: Berrett-Koehler, 2008

McElhaney’s key point: It’s not enough to have CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives in place; they have to be strategic, thorough, and properly marketed:

Strategic: aligned with–and actually fostering–the company’s overall goals. CSR initiatives need to be consistent with other branding, add to the bottom line (or at least not subtract from it), and demonstrate benefit not only to the community but to the company itself (not had to do, as I point out in my own book, Principled Profit)

Thorough: able to withstand accusations/investigations of “greenwashing”

Properly marketed: Once you’ve got the initiatives in place, tell the story to all your stakeholders: top brass, line employees, customers, suppliers, neighbors, etc. Even better: get your nonprofit partners to tell your story for you, and give them the support they need to develop and disseminate those marketing messages.

The effects can be astonishing. She shares two stories from a cell phone company called Digicell whose success and not only doing but communicating CSR had a clear positive impact on profitability:

During the 2008 food riots in Haiti, local residents protected their stores through community policing efforts, even as stores on either side were burned and looted

When the CEO, Denis O’Brien, was one of several cell phone providers chosen to make a 10-minute pitch to the Nicaraguan government, President Daniel Ortega interrupted his presentation and told him, “Listen, I know wheat you have done for the people and the communities of Jamaica and Haiti. We would be honored to have your company serve not only our mobile telecommunications needs but also the needs of our communities.” WOW!

She frequently cites Pedigree dog food as a company that understands the power of thoroughly incorporating CSR into its core mission AND its branding. Visit that company’s website and you can’t miss the attention to adopting homeless dogs: a perfect message for a dog food maker, and a strong creator of consumer loyalty.

Interestingly, she spends a lot of energy discussing companies that have not always been perceived as good corporate citizens, including Wal-Mart and Dow Chemical. Perhaps, she seems to imply, those companies cans how their sincerity and turn public opinion to their favor, much as Nike did.

The book winds up with action steps, a comprehensive (if somewhat repetitive) section on measuring the results of CSR on profitability, and a look at the CSR big picture and future trends.

Highly recommended.

Click Here To Purchase Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand