Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Take-Aways from @PRSADallas Comm Summit: The nitty gritty on #social media, #digital and #CSR

If you are even remotely interested in PR, you should know that the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the largest community network of public relations and communications practitioners in the country. Recently, I had the privilege of attending the annual PRSA Dallas Communications Summit, featuring local, national and international PR pros (including the likes of Mary Kay Inc., Travelocity and a UK-based rep from NASDAQ OMX).

Over the next week or so, I will be sharing some of the key take-aways I learned from “PR’s best” at Comm Summit, so stay tuned! Here is tip number one:

Take-Away #1: Engage and give back because it’s the right thing to do…not because you want a pat on the back.

In Comm Summit’s breakfast keynote, Crayton Webb, director of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Mary Kay Inc., walked through the story behind Mary Kay and how she started her portfolio with lobbyists years ago as she was working to increase women’s rights. As Mary Kay Inc. continued to grow and expand internationally, the founder did not let the causes near and dear to her heart slip away. In fact, Mary Kay’s many divisions around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, and Mary Kay lobbyists still campaign for important issues on Capitol Hill.

A huge take-away that jumped out at me during Crayton’s presentation was “good will and the bank of public trust.” Companies large and small are publicizing their involvement in the community, but are they doing it for the right reasons? To emphasize that point, Crayton shared a powerful example comparing Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.

Several years ago, Southwest got into some trouble with the FAA, and they were reprimanded, however business continued as usual. Shortly thereafter, American recognized they had made the same mistake as Southwest, and they proactively admitted their negligence. The response to American was fiercely negative. People wanted to know why American had done nothing about this problem for the past 10 years. When people heard about Southwest getting in trouble, they did not think nearly as negatively about the company, because the airline had already built up significant reserves in the bank of public trust due to its outstanding customer service and support over the years. American? Not so much.

The bank of public trust is a powerful thing that can make or break your organization, and it is something PR professionals cannot ignore. In fact, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming so commonplace that PR pros must get creative with how they promote the goodwill of their clients. But, the requirements remain the same: pure motives and true engagement with your stakeholders.

This blog was contributed by Britney Schaeffer, @baschaef


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