Effective CSR in Developing Markets10 years, 7 months ago
Only by building meaningful alliances, staying true to corporate values and working hand-in-hand with local communities to deliver on shared aims can businesses secure a credible reputation for themselves. By José L. Ibarra.
One of the challenges of the corporate world is remembering that only an effectively communicated thing is known or acknowledged. Otherwise, if you ignore the process or conduct it improperly, your purpose will fail because a modern approach to doing business must make use of a communications architecture. Also, it is important to clearly identify and segment the targets, the publics and the message or messages to propose.
Being trustworthy and reliable are important conditions in the process. Over the years different approaches to Communication have been taken due to the changes in theories and praxis. They are in an almost permanent state of evolution and certainly have been adapted, recycled and enhanced in the accelerated era in which we live today.
Everybody refers to image issues, but a good public image is not the main purpose. We must consider that image is merely subjective and temporal, just like a snapshot. Nowadays, the business community really must adopt processes dedicated to building reputation which is measurable and objective for example through the use of a variety of indicators.
To divert resources, time and energy into superficial image purposes is an imposture. Doing so will lead to you living your own mistake and regretting your misfortune because your process cannot connect with, or properly reach, all segments of the community.
Additionally, it is important to consider that marketing is often far away from a relationship with the community. You do not always need to promote your company as a product ready to be consumed or a service to be negotiated.
Corporate Social Responsibility
In recent years we have seen a powerful concept named Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) spread through business. It first emerged as part of an interest by enterprises in social issues, such as for instance philanthropy, but has evolved considerably from these early beginnings.
In modern business, CSR is no longer a mere tool but has developed to become an important factor in management, incorporated into the way of doing business. This is also an important part of the communications process. CSR requires a respect for cultural and social identity.
Business is done by people and the relationship is mostly social. Interaction with different people and communities also entails a cultural interchange where mutual respect is basic. In today’s world, the environmental aspect is also fundamental, because everybody is involved with the conservation and preservation of our natural and social setting.
Maybe one of the most important things to consider is how to turn your enterprise into a dynamic agent within the community into which your activities are inserted. It’s important to mitigate impacts with a CSR policy and program.
It’s also vital to be aware of the importance of strategic alliances, and these should not only extend to the organizations (non profitable, NGO’s, etc.) that you work with to define a CSR program derived from your established policy on specific issues.
Enterprises tend to be proficient and competent with regard to their own products or services but they are not necessarily as adept when it comes to the social aspects of what they do. So it’s important to find the right partner. In this light, alliances of this kind are important – and in establishing them there needs to be integration not only on social issues but also on communications.
In developing countries, most of the main targets to achieve relate to crucial issues like education, environment, health, nutrition and culture. These countries show a sort of lack of presence of the state, due to geographical difficulties, extreme poverty and other factors.
Even though private enterprises are not established with a view to replacing the state, they nevertheless have a responsibility to communities. Activities should be informed by a CSR program and it is crucial to have a policy about sensitive issues.
• It is important to be clear on the difference between CSR and philanthropy.
• Being trustworthy and reliable are basic conditions.
• All activities in the entrepreneurial world need to correlate with a communication plan which must be oriented to the different audiences and have the necessary amount, or type, of messages necessary to accomplish its goals.
• A CSR plan needs to have communication activities by audiences. It is desirable to establish synergies between the activities for the greatest efficiency between projects and activities.
• To ensure optimum efficiency, the first point in a CSR agenda should be to have a socio-economic study of the community or communities you are working with.
• Involve the aspirations of the community in your planning, in terms of your projects and the Communication plan.
José L. Ibarra is Communication and External Affairs Director, Repsol YPF Peru.mail the author
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