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Societal Marketing

Communicating Your Socially Responsible Victories

  • By Dennis McMahon
  • April 12, 2024
Communicating Your Socially Responsible Victories


Think ‘social responsibility’ is just about philanthropy? Think again. In recent years, social responsibility has transformed from a mere buzzword into a strategic imperative for all types of organizations. Many organizations now aim to minimize harm through sustainable, ethical practices and even create products and services that serve to address social problems.

A wealth of real world evidence supports the view that social responsibility efforts can actually result in cost and risk reductions, a stronger competitive advantage, branding wins, employee retention, and increased sales. A meta-analysis of over 300 studies by Project ROI underscores “the positive causal relationship between corporate responsibility performance and financial performance.”

Properly communicating socially responsible victories is crucial to establishing a positive brand image and building trust with consumers, stakeholders, and the broader community. It showcases the organization’s commitment to making a positive impact on society and the environment, differentiating it from competitors and fostering a deeper connection with the audience.

Let’s see how forward-thinking organizations, regardless of their nature, can define and celebrate these victories, leaving a lasting mark on society and adding value for all involved.

Defining Socially Responsible Victories

Before creating a narrative, your organization should define, quantify and explain your socially responsible victories. It can be a challenging task, but it’s essential to create the framework for engaging messaging that resonates with your audience. Start by identifying existing elements of your organization that have a positive societal impact. These efforts may seem trivial from an internal perspective, but when communicated effectively, they can resonate powerfully with your audience. 

When your organization is ready to identify new opportunities for social responsibility, alignment is very important to consider. Initiatives that align with your organization’s mission and values will not only reinforce authenticity, but foster genuine engagement and trust with your stakeholders. 

Measuring Impact

Consider a diverse range of data and evidence to offer a holistic perspective of your organization’s positive impact, reinforcing commitment. Moreover, focusing on long-term trends will demonstrate sustained positive changes.

Data like quantitative metrics are ideal to showcase the scale of impact, such as the number of lives touched or emissions reduced. However, it’s also important to consider including a human element, such as testimonials, survey data and community feedback to share stories of those directly affected by your initiatives.

Economic impact analyses can quantify the financial benefits, while third-party certifications and media recognition highlight external validation. Don’t forget to include any collaborative partnerships and innovative findings to showcase additional contributions to progress.

Engaging Your Audience

Adopting a humble and sincere approach is essential to create credibility and build ongoing trust. Avoid self-congratulatory, negative or insincere tones. People can quickly identify when a message lacks genuine commitment. Crafting a narrative that reflects dedication to social responsibility will connect with your audience, promote trust and leave a more positive impact. 

Let’s talk about the superstars of Corporate Social Responsibility—the employees. When they’re involved, they don’t just work for the company; they stand as living proof of its values. Their stories and enthusiasm about the company’s social efforts go a long way in making the message stick, both inside the company and out in the world. This empowerment not only fosters a positive internal culture but also strengthens the company’s public image as a socially responsible entity.

Choosing the Right Communication Channels

Choosing the right channels to communicate social responsibility efforts will determine your reputation as a socially responsible organization. Start with a classic strategic marketing approach and identify the platforms that resonate most with your target audience. Social media, your organization’s website, press releases, and industry reports are all potential vehicles, each with their unique strengths and sub-channels.  

To convey your organization’s commitment while upholding sincerity and honesty, it’s crucial to employ a tailored approach to each channel. Social media campaigns warrant real time updates with unpolished, organic imagery and familiar faces in the act of serving. Whereas, a press release will be better used to aggregate a big story, present data and utilize a more formal, long-form writing style.

Although your approach will be unique for each channel, it is important to craft messaging that  aligns with the values and objectives of your organization and remains consistent across all platforms. As with any other marketing effort, consistency and honesty are key.

Examples of Social Responsibility Communication

Let’s delve into three real life examples that underscore the influence of properly communicated social responsibility.


TOMS stands out as an exemplary illustration of social entrepreneurship. Its now-famous business approach, established in 2006, was unconventional: with each pair of shoes purchased by a customer, TOMS pledged to donate a pair to a child in need. Despite being a for-profit entity, TOMS has garnered substantial value, recently estimated at approximately $392 million. CEO Blake Mycoskie disclosed that the average retail price for a pair of TOMS shoes is $55, while the production cost for the well-known canvas footwear is only around $9 per pair. Notably, research conducted by BCG indicates that 50% of their customers are not only aware of but also motivated to make purchases based on the social good aspect of the business. In 2014, Bain Capital acquired a 50% stake in TOMS and committed to maintaining the one-for-one business model.


In 2008, IBM initiated the Corporate Service Corps program, involving 500 IBM employees annually who leverage their expertise in project management, strategic planning, or engineering to assist entrepreneurial companies in emerging markets like Brazil, China, or Ghana. The IBM Corps teams address a broad spectrum of issues, ranging from public safety to urban agriculture. IBM claims that the program yields a $600 million return on a $200 million investment and maintains an impressively low employee turnover rate of less than 1%, compared to the industry average of 12% per year. Additionally, the program contributes to talent attraction, skills development, competency enhancement, and the creation of new markets for the company.


The textbook case study illustrating the adverse consequences of inadequate social responsibility is the 2015 Volkswagen Emissions Scandal. In this crisis, the automotive giant was exposed for intentionally manipulating their diesel engines to deceive emissions tests, severely damaging consumer trust and resulting in significant repercussions.

Volkswagen’s failure to uphold social responsibility, both in environmental compliance and honesty with customers, not only caused environmental harm but also inflicted substantial financial losses and irreparably tarnished the company’s reputation. Particularly, since these models had been marketed to consumers as eco-friendly, fuel-efficient choices. This case serves as a stark reminder of the dire consequences a corporation can encounter when it disregards its ethical and social obligations.

Challenges and Pitfalls

Organizations must remain vigilant regarding the pitfalls of “greenwashing.” Falsely claiming environmental impacts or misrepresenting data is viewed as a grave offense by consumers and regulatory authorities alike, with potential consequences ranging far beyond a tarnished brand reputation. To counter this, it’s imperative to provide concrete, real-world statistics and avoid vague or ambiguous claims.

Virtue signaling, while appearing to support social causes, can come across as opportunistic or self-serving if it lacks genuine commitment. It may lead to accusations of performative behavior, where organizations seek to capitalize on trends without making substantive changes.

One of the crucial mistakes in social responsibility lies in not genuinely committing to the cause. Insincere efforts can harm an organization’s credibility and trustworthiness among stakeholders. It’s about “walking the walk” and making actual commitments to social responsibility. To navigate these challenges successfully, authenticity should serve as the guiding principle for all initiatives and communications. 

Continuing the Conversation

Organizations that are dedicated to making a positive impact are better equipped to build trust, foster credibility, and contribute meaningfully to our world. To amplify your message and showcase your socially responsible victories, consider partnering with a professional agency like HyFyve. Together, we can celebrate the great things you’re doing and inspire others to follow in your footsteps towards a better, more responsible future. 

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