I was only a month into working as an independent PR consultant and then a worldwide lockdown was enforced due to Covid-19. Offices were shut and most companies were downsizing and cutting off PR budgets. Suddenly, the focus had shifted from revenues and profits, to community and sustainability. Fundamentally speaking, my inclination of interest towards CSR, sustainability and climate change happened unknowingly. When I was in the UK, I volunteered for a few recycling charities and city councils, but I did not know that this would become my ultimate theme of business.
While I was figuring out how to keep my business going in challenging times, I met Laura Sutherland, founder of PRFest. I came across Laura’s brilliant ideas in the sustainability sector at one of the PRCA meetings. It was only a matter of time that I followed her work on Twitter and Instagram and further became a part of the global steering group for PRFest. I had an urge to find a platform to initiate conversations on corporate social innovation and climate change and safely, PRFest became an all inclusive platform for me and many other PR practitioners around the globe.
CSI was one of the themes of a day during PRFest. Alex Malouf, director of corporate communications for MEA at Schneider Electric, was the perfect guest to drive the discussion on how swiftly businesses are shifting their operations to reduce the impact on the environment and to increase the impact on stakeholders.
The list of my questions for Alex were exhaustive and following are some key takeaways that stuck with me:
- Covid-19 is not the only reason to keep CSI at the core of your organisation. Increasing carbon emissions, lack of alternate resources and frequent climate change should also be factored in while deciding what type of an organisation you want to be.
- CSI initiatives can be communicated via social media, influencer marketing and majorly digital marketing.
- Influencers were not initially considered for B2B marketing but Schneider is changing that. If your influencers believe in making an impact and driving a change in the corporate sector then platforms like Linkedin and Twitter can be used for influencer marketing in the B2B sector.
- Any organisation, small, medium or large, can incorporate CSI initiatives without budget being a major problem. Small organisations can start with telling their story of innovation on social media and by being very specific in terms of their target audience.
- CSI is not a department, it is more of a mindset that people need to adapt and believe in. The climate demands change and the only way to sustain this transition is to adapt.
- If your brand has a story that can make people’s lives easier while reducing the impact on the environment, then your story will speak for you.
- Companies with ESG have a stronger chance of sustaining in the long run than those without.
My conversation with Alex triggered me to gain clarity with regards to how I want to be known in the PR industry. PRFest helped me in comprehending that my inclination towards sustainability and council work was not a mere coincidence, it was my subconscious mindset, which now came to surface. I became sure that this is the type of PR practitioner I want to be: a practitioner who drives communication of change, innovation and sustainability.
Guest blog by Jaitika Dhir @JaitikaDhir on Twitter.