Case Study: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of Small Businesses

Many large, U.S.-based publicly-held corporations are investing in CSR initiatives and talking about them. However, little research or news has been published on CSR engagement by small businesses or their efforts to communicate it. To fill this gap, MW explored the CSR activities, attitudes, and beliefs of twelve small business owners and managers. They represented eight locally-owned enterprises in the Midwest, all of which engage in CSR activities.

Our findings: They nearly all agreed their CSR involvement is “strategic,” yet most had no communication strategy and little structure to measure effectiveness.

Our solution: Companies must view CSR communication as an essential extension of “doing good.” Take care to avoid any impression of self-promotion by telling stories of the people and places that have been helped. Well-planned, this messaging can spiral out to positively impact all stakeholders within the scope of influence, while at the same time strengthening and nurturing important client-stakeholder relationships.

– William S. Page, “Micro CSR in Small U.S. Businesses” delivered at 2nd International CSR Communication Conference Aarhus, Denmark, 2013

Case Studies: Community Affairs and Government Affairs

Mediawerks PR was hired by Comcast to bring about better relations with municipalities and elected officials in suburban Chicago. Toward that end, MW created external projects that paired the corporation with diverse groups in initiatives that benefited the community as a whole. Some examples:

  • A suburban Fire Protection District identified some 3,000 living units in their village as not having proper smoke or CO2 detectors. MW created for Comcast a 3-day project that provided volunteers to work with firefighters and install the detectors. The company also provided tools, lunches for volunteers, and additional detectors. MW also included local office holders in the village, the area’s state representative and its state senator in the installation process. The entire event was covered by local press, radio, and television.
  • Sci-Tech, a children’s science museum in a city southwest of Chicago was struggling to stay open when MW arranged a large donation from Comcast. In addition, MW worked with both Comcast and local trade unions to construct a popular museum attraction: a working, child-scaled “newsroom.”

Case Study: The Need to Control Social Media Branding

Due to evolving changes and challenges in online platforms, our research team studied leaders’ use of visual images in social media.

Our findings: Consequences from lack of visual strategy and control may lead to image deterioration or subversion through citizen engagement.

Our solution: Organizations and their leaders must implement a focused and vigilant visual strategy in their digital communication. 

Case Study: Why Messages Go Viral with Millennials

Why are some advertising videos shared more than others by Gen Y? Our research team investigated social media responses to viral political messages, using Topsy Pro analytics and content analysis.

Our findings: Certain videos resonate to prominence due to shock value and dark humor.

Our solution: Appeal to youthful audiences is through cultural references that are deliberately provocative. 

Case Study: What Does Credibility Look Like?

Corporate spokespeople and political candidates must communicate “credibility” – a combination of expertise and trustworthiness that adds up to authenticity and legitimacy, so important to public perception. Now visuals often speak louder than words to communicate reputation. Our research team studied organizations’ use of visual images on Facebook and Twitter.

Our findings: A lack of visual strategy weakens impressions of “credibility.”

Our solution: We developed both nonverbal and visual guidelines for communicating expertise and trustworthiness.