6 must-know CSR trends for public companies in 2017

One of the biggest focuses for public companies in the New Year is improving their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in terms of tailored goals, visibility, reporting, and more. The Ethical Corporation recently released a report in which they gathered research from 948 CSR professionals from around the globe on their thoughts of the state of their profession as it moves into 2017. We analyzed their research, as well as our own findings from what was most crucial for our clients this year, and developed these 6 must-know CSR trends for public companies in 2017.

1. CSR is more mainstream, which means more competition

A few years back, it was enough for public companies to have a fairly comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility section on their website, with a simple PDF presentation and a few images of how they took into consideration the environment, communities, and their social impact. A vague understanding of social impact is no longer enough to stand out amongst the top public companies with the best CSR reputations. Taking action against climate change, contributing to social justice movements, and standing firm in founding principles are trends in themselves for big companies, and have become not just acceptable, but expected. With more companies understanding the value CSR can bring to both their public image and their stakeholders, it’s getting harder to make a message stand out in a sea of ‘do-gooding’. The Bmeaningful Blog writes, “Breaking through the clutter of messaging and advertising will be a challenge but we see tremendous opportunity for professionals who can authentically tell their companies’ cause story”.

2. CSR content will become even more personalized

Focus on CSR goals that make sense for your company and will garner the most trust from your primary stakeholders. As we talk about in our report entitled, What is CSR and Why Your Website Will Tell Your Story, “A trap that many companies fall into is thinking that CSR is only about giving back to the environment…CSR can also focus on efforts with local communities and interactions with your own consumers and what matters to them”. Building investor trust means tailoring content to their main concerns, while also ensuring you’re staying true to your company’s story and goals. If you’ve published multiple CSR success stories to a company newsletter, one focusing on community impact and one focusing on social change, you can serve different content to different investors based on what they most care about. As we discuss in our article about Digital Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2017, investors are looking for more personalized content. This includes what CSR stories you should be promoting.

csr trends for 2017 video

3. Showcase CSR efforts through video and animation     

Perhaps the biggest trend we see each year in the digital marketing world is that the online attention span of consumers is shrinking astronomically. We are so used to getting the information we want online right away, in bite-sized pieces. The same concept applies with investors. Your investors won’t have the time to read a 15 page PDF report on how your latest CSR measure impacted a community and benefited your company. Break down the CSR successes of the past year with videos, data visualizations, or animations on your website. Even more important: make your reporting shareable. Short videos illustrating your impact as a company are the perfect way to get some brand differentiation and easily circulate your message. TELUS’ 2015 Sustainability Report is a great example of how a company can mix text, bold images, and data visualization to highlight impact.

4. Align your CSR goals with those at the top

Ethical Corporation’s report states that “Only 25% of CSR executives [surveyed] stated their CFO is absolutely convinced of the value of the CSR report”. This is a problem. If your company’s CEO, CFO, and more aren’t aware of the CSR goals for the coming year, or don’t see value in spending more time, energy, and money on CSR initiatives or CSR reporting, your company will come across as disjointed and not united in your social message. Ensure that environmental impact, social justice, and community service goals aren’t simply dreamt and executed within one department. The whole company, from the top to the bottom, should understand the importance of what you’re doing and how it relates to your vision and end goals.

5. Make CSR presentations available on every platform

We spoke above about translating your CSR initiatives to video and animation, but it’s equally important to make sure what you’re putting out there can be accessed by anyone who wants to see what your company is up to. 2017 will see even more people disregard their desktops for a mobile phone, so make sure every downloadable CSR presentation, testimonial video, customer story, and website link are available by a smartphone or tablet browser.

csr trends for 2017 tablet

6. Don’t just report, relate back

Don’t focus all your CSR energy on reporting. Ethical Corporation’s report says, “60% of respondents agreed that too much time is being spent on the reporting process”. Investors want to see how CSR initiatives affected the numbers, but that doesn’t mean you can pull a ‘number dump’ and be done with it. Make sure you’re not just reporting the numbers or you’ll create a disconnect between your company and the lives you actually impacted. So this year, think about other ways to illustrate the impact you’ve made. Include more employee testimonials, customer success stories, environmental impact studies, or ‘Message from the CEO’ videos. Mixing up how you deliver CSR good news makes sure investors, as well as your target audiences, don’t get number fatigue.


Conclusion: Don’t choose a CSR focus based on what’s trending

Ironically, even though this article is all about CSR trends, make sure you’re not shifting your CSR strategy each year based on what’s trending. Although many big companies have jumped at the chance to show their support for social change in the past few years, that doesn’t mean you have to organize something similar for your company if a big social justice push doesn’t match your short or long term goals. As long as everyone is working towards your company vision, you should be okay.

For a comprehensive look at ways to improve your CSR on your website, as well as some great examples of public companies with great CSR reporting, download our guide below!



IR Resolutions for 2017

When it comes to resolutions for the New Year, we all have various personal and professional goals that we are seeking to accomplish. Whether it’s a personal goal that will work to make you a stronger leader in your workplace or community, or a professional goal, like creating and launching an optimized online IR strategy for your company, this is time of the year when we are ready to get started on our New Year Resolutions. And if IR Resolutions are what you’re making, this blog is for you.

We’re excited about what is to come in IR for 2017. So excited, in fact, that we’ve compiled the IR resolutions that you need to know about now for this New Year. With a compilation of trends and insights we’re ready to see unfold, you’ll want to bookmark this blog and review in the upcoming quarters.

Here are the IR Resolutions for 2017 you need to know now.


Review and determine if your website needs a refresh.

39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load, so it’s time to ask yourself – does your website need a refresh? Furthermore, given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something well designed than something plain, and a bore to view.

Given the fact that visitors to your website are unlikely to spend 15 minutes on any given page, you have a limited amount of time to make an impression on your IR visitors.

In 2017, it’s time to review and determine if your website needs a refresh.


Video is King.

We’ve spoken about this at length, but 2017 is the year when it truly comes into play

59 percent of executives admit that they would rather watch video than read text, which means that your IR decision makers are looking for video content in the New Year. It should be an integral part of your website’s infrastructure, and can no longer be considered an addition to your IR strategy.

Integrate video content on your home page, your company’s about us page, your contact page and more. Ensure it is engaging content – and short! Aim for a video length of 0:30 to one minute in length.

IR Resolutions Video


Do you need to update your CSR strategy?

Although we have seen a great number of companies who have an understanding of how CSR can impact their IR strategy, showcasing your efforts will soon be the norm. CSR has been more of a trend seen in the European and Asia-Pacific regions, but 2017 will be the year that it becomes increasingly relevant in North America.

With this in mind, it’s time to review your CSR strategy and online presence in this New Year. Ask yourself – does the CSR section of my website accurately reflect our internal efforts?


Use social media to tell your story.

Although you very likely have presence online, and perhaps even use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram every single day, this is the time to review how you are telling your company’s story through social media. 62 percent of adults in the United States get their news on social networks, which is up from 49 percent in 2012. It’s clear that this trend will only continue in 2017.

As you are making company announcements or CSR initiates in this New Year, consider how social media can compliment your strategy.


From a website refresh to video, CSR to social media, your IR resolutions for 2017 range in topic, but will all play a significant impact on your business within this New Year. Take time this month to review your strategies currently in place, and consider the benefits of making optimizations now.

Connecting with your On-The-Go Investors: Beyond the Website

What other aspects of your IR communications can benefit from a mobile-first focus?

Last week, we focused on specific website examples from Canadian public companies who have made mobile a top priority when it came to their website and investor relations section. While mobile optimization is definitely the first step, the job isn’t done once your website looks great on a phone or tablet. A mobile-friendly website is only one step in the process of getting your company ready for a mobile focused future. There are many other ways of communicating with your on-the-go investors that can benefit from revisiting your IR strategy with a mobile lens.

Section Four of Blender Media and CIRI BC’s collaborative eBook, Connecting with Your On-The-Go-Investors takes a look at every part of a conclusive investor relations strategy, beyond the website, and discusses how public companies can benefit from mobile-friendly presentations, reports, email signups, and more. Navigate to the interactive eBook now to take an in-depth look at our findings, or read the highlights below!


My website is mobile-friendly, aren’t I done?

Nope. As we mentioned above, having a mobile optimized website is the first step, but definitely not the last in order to have a complete mobile strategy for your public company. Get inside mind of your on-the-go investors and ask yourself: What issues might my investors run into when looking at my company info from their phones? Below are a few of our ideas for potential problems:

“I want to make note of the company’s next conference call/annual report/ tradeshow on my phone’s calendar, but it’s too complicated.”

Build an ‘Add to Calendar’ or ‘Remind Me’ function into your company’s latest updates so on-the-go investors can easily select their type of calendar and have the event saved straight to their mobile device. This process is easy to implement for you, and will save your investors time.

Going Mobile Beyond the Website screenshot

“I want to sign up for email alerts, but it’s too hard to fill out the form from my tablet.”

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to fill out an electronic form on a phone and having the keyboard open and collapse at random times, or the form fields stop registering, or the ‘submit’ button is too difficult to tap. Don’t put your on-the-go investors through that headache and ensure that every form on your website requesting information works flawlessly.


“I’ve opened their annual report on my phone, but the PDF is too small to read and I have to keep zooming in with my fingers.”

Ah, the old PDF pinch and zoom. Although downloadable PDFs are still widely used by public companies for annual reports, is that the way it always has to be? What about an interactive annual report as a separate website that functions well on any mobile device? Creating a digital annual report with animated highlights, easily selectable chapters, great design, and more will stand out to your investors much more than the same old PDF. Want to see an example? Navigate to our latest eBook that we call the “PDF slayer.” Connecting With Your On-The-Go Investors gives you a digital reading experience like no other.


Read about what other IR materials can be enhanced with a mobile focus (such as news releases, annual reports, and IR presentations), as well as testimonials from the industry’s top IR experts in our full report. Check it out here!