Why You Need a Strong Community Relations Program

by Eddie Reeves on

 

Stop for a minute and think about your people.

I don’t just mean your employees.  I mean ALL your people: your customers, your contractors, your investors, and, yes, your employees, too – everyone that has a stake in or influence on the success of your organization.

These aren’t just faceless numbers on a page. They’re people with lives, families, friends, hopes, dreams, fears, and tangible needs. And all those traits factor into their decision-making processes, including what they buy, who they buy it from, what they recommend to others, where they work, how they work and where they invest.

If you are serious about building your brand, you need make sure you are working to build strong relationships with all your stakeholders, and developing a strong community relations program is a great way to do just that.

What Is a Community Relations Program?

A community relations program is a marketing strategy that fosters a human connection between your business and the community. It’s about how you interact with other organizations, businesses, and individuals in your area — especially the ways you give back and support the communities in which your organization operates.

The concept of community relations has been around for literally centuries, but only became a formalized public relations strategy within the last four decades. Different organizations take different approaches and call it by different names. Corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility and community stewardship are some of the terms that essentially refer the same concept.

Why Is Community Relations Important?

Customers today – especially those younger than age fifty — prefer to buy from, work for and/or invest in companies that are making a positive difference in the world. Research has repeatedly underscored that demonstrating that an organization promotes not just making a buck but making a difference is actually good business.

Here are three reasons you need a strong community relations strategy:

1. Engaged employees

The way an organization treats the community suggests good things to its employees about how it perceives and respects them. According to a survey produced by Apparo in 2017, organizations that encourage their employees to volunteer through pro bono work during paid business hours create motivated employees who feel that their company respects their development. These employees also feel energized by the opportunity to be creative with their skillset for a good cause.

2. Loyal customers

Consumers think consciously about the products and services they buy. In a Nielson survey, 66% of participants said they pay more for products and services from socially responsible companies. When examining the population of participants willing to pay more, 56% said “a brand being known for its social value” was a top purchase driver. Another purchase drive, “a brand with community commitment,” was marked by 53% of those will to pay more. Customers will be loyal to your company if your values align with theirs.

3. Positive public image

Active CSR positions your organization as a leader in the community, and a positive role model for others to follow. Moreover, when companies stand out for the good work they’re doing in the community can lead to positive press coverage and favorability from government officials and regulatory bodies.

So I ask you: If you don’t have a community relations program in place, what are you waiting for?

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