August 18, 2019 The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire

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One Is Not The Lucky Number For CSR Reports

Submitted by: David Connor

Posted: Mar 31, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Series: CSR & Sustainability Communications and Reporting

Tags: reporting, communications, csr, sustainability


This is the most recent article in our series on CSR & Sustainability Communications and Reporting. For more articles, go to

You know that eureka moment you feel when you repeatedly see a great advert on television but only realise what it is actually selling after numerous views? You know, the same one you do not get when somebody announces a CSR or Sustainability report.

Since ancient times marketers and sales people have known about what is often termed the ‘Rule of Seven’. In reality what is meant is that for any message to be noticed and then resonate to the point of action there has to be an effective frequency of exposure. It is very probably not a hard and fast seven and there is much debate around what number works where or how, but the reasoning is sound and not-so-common-sense. The answer is also predominantly not once.

Now let us pretend we are a forward thinking company wanting to demonstrate our commitment to responsible practices to our peers, employees, customers and wider stakeholders. We will need to allocate thousands of dollars on designing the process, learning how to use the latest framework updates and collect data across multiple business functions, territories and products. Then let us allocate a few more thousands on creating a slick looking document and maybe even a microsite. Great, now we have a wonderful report about our sustainability successes we can share with the world. Now what shall we do?

Can you see where I am going with this?

In world of almost infinite communication channels and formats, promoting such a crafted and valuable asset as a singular announcement is a sin. We within the sustainability movement need to learn from the successes and knowledge of mainstream business without fear of discredit or compromise.

Most reports should actually be a series of very different communications tailored to each stakeholder group, not a one-size-fits-all document, but the theory applies however you decide to share.

Announce, Tweet, blog, Facebook, email, call (yes talk to real people on the telephone), Pin, carrier pigeon - whatever your stakeholders react to, but not just once or even on one day. Build the story of the report into a campaign and connect your communication strategy to your stakeholder engagement strategy. Yes, they are two separate things, or should be, yet connected and complementary.

We built the new CSRwire Reporting Promotion service for just such a purpose. Apologies for the mid article plug, but we’re really proud to be pushing the industry into a modern era of sustainability and mainstream communications, and it works! 

Almost every report has enough data and background narrative to feed a content delivery conveyor belt for months if interrogated and planned intelligently. Why not stagger announcing your report differently to each stakeholder group? How about a creating a week or month of dialogue per key report theme? Repeatedly share pre-identified key messages, seed Twitter and LinkedIn with data, stories and questions to ramp up the engagement, views and feedback. We recently ran the #HerDay2015 hashtag campaign (think extended Twitter chat over two weeks) and had over 700 participants by day 3!

This is where we are beginning to see a deeper authentic commitment to sustainability as reporting becomes an ever present part of the holistic communications exercise, not an isolated blast lost amongst the flood of other reports during reporting season.

A non-financial report shouldn’t be an announcement but a single chapter of a twelve month book.

This is the most recent article in our series on CSR & Sustainability Communications and Reporting. For more articles, go to

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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