Branding, CSR, Public Relations, Social Media, Sustainable Development

CSR and Social Media: The New Power Partnership in changing Customer Experience.

New York – A panel of discussants gathered to discuss on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to brands and the role social media plays in the mix in a discussion titled, ‘Digital and Social Media Breakthrough in Customer Experience’. A lot of ground-breaking and elucidating comments were made, highlighting various mantras and ethos in the current practice of CSR in the social media age. The panel was moderated by Trish Wheaton, Wunderman’s Chief Marketing Officer and Y&R Advertising’s Managing Partner, Global New Business.
She was joined by Michele Barlow, EVP of Enterprise Marketing at Bank of America, and other major industry players from global brands that are leading the charge for CSR: Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News, and Chad Mitchell, Senior Director, Digital Communications, Walmart.
The panel was held at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, on March 28, 2014, as part of The Conference Board’s Customer Experience Conference.
The panel brought to the fore issues relating to transparency, trust, making your customers fall in love with your experience (through the two way symmetrical model of Grunig), making employees Brand Advocates, through making them believe in the CSR objectives. How citizens have been empowered to influence companies today. How social media enables immediate reaction, by companies to customer needs. How “CSR has to be part of your DNA. It isn’t just something you can get in and out of”. The most interesting and pertinent statement that could be taken away from this discussion is that, the goal of every company should be to get their customers on their side, where the customers can stand up for a brand. This is very powerful.

Find below some quotes from the discussants and a feature on the session:
Barlow was weighing in on “Digital and Social Media Breakthrough in Customer Experience,” when she said “Be prepared––you’re going to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. You can’t edit out the negative stuff,”. “We’ve learned a ton from the ugly. (It) demonstrates that you’re a brand that cares, if you take the feedback and act on it.”
According to Conlon, once you understand what consumers value about your brand, you’re on your way to making them love you—an especially important factor when embracing social.
Conlon said “When customers are on the side of the brand, they’ll stand up for you when there’s a mess up,”. “That’s really powerful, when customers will join the conversation with you.”
Wheaton said “The combination of social and CSR is a brave new territory to go into,”. “The bad always finds its way through, but the good often does not”. “So if you’re doing it, say it!”
Mitchell said “Be true to your brand”, “different channels, same voice” i.e. be consistent across channels.

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