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Communications professionals from around the world want to raise the profile of their organizations’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts by beefing up communications and backing stand-alone CSR departments, according to a poll by Ragan Communications and PollStream.

Respondents were conflicted, however, about why they want to increase CSR activities and where a CSR department should reside within their organization.

Key findings:

  • Some 70% of the 439 respondents indicate that their companies practice and communicate CSR, though 30% say they have no CSR programs at all.
  • When asked what they’d like to change about their CSR programs, 43% would like to increase them and 21% want to measure their ROI. Only 6% would reduce CSR initiatives overall.
  • Poll respondents are split over their reasons for wanting to increase CSR. Some 40% say it would improve employee engagement, while 50% say it would enhance PR and corporate image; 7% hope to grow sales and 4% want to attract new employees.
  • Nearly 50% believe a standalone department reporting directly to the CEO should take charge of CSR. The remaining 50% are split over whether media relations, internal communications or marketing should have responsibility.

Communicators also showed a preference for using traditional media – such as newsletters and CSR reports – rather than new online media, to communicate CSR initiatives:

  • 58% of respondents cite traditional communications outlets as their venue of choice for disseminating CSR news.
  • 43% plan to promote CSR activities such as employee volunteerism and community ambassador programs.
  • 22% plan to promote CSR with more aggressive public relations programs that coincide with community outreach.
  • 22% plan to communicate CSR programs using social media such as blogs, podcasts and Facebook groups.

About the research: PollStream partnered with Ragan Communications to create POLL-arized, a series of polls about corporate communications. A sample of 439 communicators from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia participated in the poll.

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