CSR and Community

Big businesses need to know when they’re not wanted….and when they are

The relationships between big businesses and local communities can be complicated. Virtually every planning application from one of the big supermarkets causes a stir in some form or other, but likewise there are invariably huge numbers of local people who welcome investment, choice and convenience too.

CSR and the Local Community, a report prepared by YouGov Sixth Sense for Havas PR UK, throws this delicate balancing act into sharp focus. Nearly half of the 2,000 people surveyed agreed that local community projects need the support of private businesses to succeed and just 19 per cent doubt that national businesses have good intentions when they get involved in community projects.

Yet some view things much more cynically. Over a third (37%) remain unconvinced when a national business shows interest in local community issues, believing that such activities are just PR stunts and are not genuine. The need for focused communications plans to persuade a sceptical audience to think again could not be more clear.

Perhaps it comes down to the ways some businesses try to get involved on a local level. The research findings certainly prove that waving a blank chequebook is not always the answer. To earn trust, an absolute sincerity is required. Anything superficial is spotted a mile away and, while few community groups will turn down hard cash, the goodwill earned through donations can be limited if they are simply seen as buying favour.

The CSR and Local Community report was commissioned by Havas PR UK as part of our ongoing commitment to understanding the relationships local communities want with big businesses. We advise companies such as Asda, Greggs, Debenhams and Pets at Home on local PR and community relations, among other things, so the relevance of the research to our day-to-day jobs is obvious.

Further information on the research is available from nigel.hughes@havasww.com