EASTWEST PR client, Morgan cars in Beijing has used Corporate Social Responsibility to build relationships with the community, using owned social media as the communications channels to be in keeping with the goals; to give back to the community without appearing to be seeking recognition for the generosity.
A key element of CSR is that the motivation is genuine and that it is used to build engagement with a particular audience over time. It is a way to build a sense of common community – more powerful to a brand than short term visibility.
In the case of the Wheels Plus Wings initiative, each time that Morgan sells a 3 Wheel vehicle they donate a wheel chair to a disabled child. The concept is that of freedom; the freedom of the open top car for the luxury consumer generates freedom from conventional wheelchairs for the child. The donation took place in the showroom. A film was made and posted to Youku, and a follow up story posted 5 months after the donation. It was posted to the website and Weibo channels.
At Xmas the team at Morgan organised a party for children from the Bethel orphanage for blind children. These children were entertained, taken for a spin in a kids trike, given lunch with drawings, and xmas gifts of coats and CD players. Again no media invited but the 2 weibo posts received over 8,376 viewers, 4x the number of followers for Morgan i.e. it was forwarded by each follower 4 times.
CSR and social media are a perfect pair of engagement, community and ROI. The Morgan brand is one focused on ‘real experiences’ and so the CSR activities need to reflect that. From a media strategy perspective, the approach has been ‘discretion,’ allowing the community to re post the news instead of taking credit and appearing to use disadvantaged children for their own gain.
When considering CSR, the important question to ask is one of motive; why is the company undertaking this activity? If it is to help themselves, then it is missing the point of CSR, and someone on social media will probably notice and take them to task.