With the application date having recently passed for the annual Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Awards, we thought we’d look at how many of last year’s nominees have showcased their CSR activities on YouTube.
The challenges of communicating Corporate Social Responsibility
CSR can often be a complex concept to communicate to the general public. Among the obstacles companies face are consumer confusion as to what CSR actually means, public distrust of corporations, and the perception they are using CSR as a way of ‘greenwashing’ their reputations. Companies also find it difficult to convey the importance and impact of their CSR activities in a clear, succinct manner that people will understand.
Video can potentially overcome these hurdles. Platforms like YouTube allow companies to broadcast (sometimes complicated) messages that can engage people – and connect with them emotionally – in a way that no press release or annually-issued CSR report can hope to achieve.
The branding agency DeSantis Breindel expand on this in their white paper on “Online Video and CSR” when they say: “Video, with its immediacy, popularity, and viral potential, represents a unique opportunity to capture the breadth of CSR’s impact, provide an intimate look at the people involved, and reach a receptive audience”.
Irish firms, their CSR initiatives, and YouTube
This is why it is surprising to find that many major Irish companies seem slow to post clips to YouTube that explain their CSR activities. From the 65 companies shortlisted for the 2013 Chambers Ireland awards, we found that a mere 16 of these organisations had created a video on YouTube about their CSR initiatives and community projects.
While Business in the Community Ireland do fantastic work in interviewing the leading lights of Irish CSR about their projects (they have set up a dedicated BITCI YouTube channel for this purpose), it is curious that the companies themselves are not more proactive at creating their own videos. One might expect that some SMEs might not have the time or resources to generate such content, but even larger organisations like Accenture Ireland and Abbott Ireland seem slow off the mark at creating clips explaining their (often excellent) CSR programmes.
But, in a bid to accentuate the positive, we’re going to list what we believe to be the top 10 examples of Irish CSR initiatives on YouTube.
10. Ulster Bank’s ‘Rugby Force’ and ‘GAA Force’ programmes
Ulster Bank established their ‘Rugby Force’ and ‘GAA Force’ programmes as a way of helping Irish sports clubs to improve their facilities. Under the scheme, clubs are encouraged to apply for grants of up to €5,000 to assist them in refurbishing and upgrading their grounds.
This clip from Ulster Bank tries to show the impact these awards have, not just on the winning clubs themselves, but also on the pride of the wider community. Ulster Bank also integrated their CSR programmes with their sponsorship activities, as the ‘Rugby Force’ initiative featured prominently in the TV stings that preface RTE’s coverage of the All-Ireland League.
9. A & L Goodbody – support of the Suas Literacy Programme
A&L Goodbody’s CSR programme involved them partnering with the education charity Suas to improve literacy levels in socially-deprived communities of Dublin. The video gives relevant statistics on both the levels of illiteracy in Ireland, and also on how the type of mentoring offered by A&L Goodbody and Suas can improve children’s reading skills by up to 70%.
What is compelling about this clip is that the recipients of the programme are not just faceless, nameless beneficiaries. Instead, the kids are interviewed about their experiences with the programme, and they talk in their own words about how the mentoring has helped them develop their own reading skills. Having said that, I’m not sure that having the A&L Goodbody MD give a fairly dry speech at the start of the video is the most effective way of introducing the project to the casual viewer.
8. Dell – Irish Cancer Society partnership for Daffodil Day
Dell Ireland is one of the principal sponsors of the Irish Cancer Society and the annual Daffodil Day campaign. This video shows how Dell aims to get all 2,200 of their Irish employees fully involved in fundraising activities for Daffodil Day. The clip itself is well-produced and smoothly-edited, and vividly shows how Dell went about engaging and motivating their entire workforce to participate.
7. Kerry Group RAIN Project
RAIN (standing for “Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition”) is the Kerry Group’s partnership with the international humanitarian charity Concern. The project aims to eliminate chronic malnutrition among children under two in sub-Saharan Africa, and Kerry Group is providing €1.25 million of the overall project budget of €3.7 million. Surprisingly, neither Kerry Group or Concern are featured prominently in the clip, and while the video does a good job of explaining a complex issue in a clear way, it could perhaps benefit from being more fast-paced and less repetitive in delivering its message.
6. University College Cork ‘Green Campus’ programme
University College Cork were joint winners of the “Excellence in Environment Award” at the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards in 2013. They scooped this accolade for their Green Campus Initiative which helped UCC become one of the first ‘green flag universities’ in the world. The video itself is tightly edited, contains a variety of interviews, and it gives an excellent overview of the strategy that UCC used to to become an environmentally sustainable campus.
On the next blog, we’ll run down places 5 to 1 on our top 10 of Irish CSR projects on YouTube.