There are several advantages associated with working for a social enterprise. In my field, Communications, the main one is that I don’t have to embellish the truth or fabricate a CSR in the copy I produce. I don’t even need to rack my brains too much. Facts just stand out before my eyes. I pick them up, choose a vehicle, a channel to send them out, and wait for them to reach their destination.
You’ll appreciate lying is the worst thing a person passionate about communications can be pushed to do. It’s unpleasant as well as ineffective since it reduces the potential impact of any messages one sends —if you don’t believe in what you are saying, who else will?
Something that amazed me when I started working at The Phone Co-op was that, just by looking around, I was able to find lots of interesting and nice, newsworthy stories to share. And that’s the potential my colleagues at the Marketing & Communications team try to unleash every day.
Since this co-operative telecommunications provider was set up, and especially for the last couple of years, we’ve concentrated on ensuring our co-operative nature and our social values are present in all our communications efforts with both our customers and the general public. We are proud of being a social enterprise, we believe in the power of business to have a positive effect on the world, and so we like to shout about it.
Our commitment to being fairer and transparent is one of the main selling points of all our services —this results from being an ethical telecommunications provider that puts people’s wellbeing before making huge profits to fatten a few shareholders. One of the best examples of this is our new Pay As You Go service –launched in March 2014. ‘Fair and honest pricing’ from a ‘member-owned’ business, where ‘profits are shared’ with members and ‘invested in community projects’ and other co-operatives and social enterprises, are all key messages that appear on the packaging and promotional materials and leaflets we’ve produced —where our social credentials, including the Social Enterprise Mark, are exhibited.
This values-led approach resonates through our website to make sure that our co-operative difference stands out for everyone that visits us, and the creation of a blog where we deal with those features that make us unique, how we put principles into practice, and all the initiatives and campaigns we support. We don’t just sell telecom services, we ensure fair working conditions, invest ethically, promote green and sustainable living, empower UK consumers by giving them a say…
In addition to that, we’ve increased our PR and social media activity, and are learning to make the most of these channels to promote our positive facts and figures and spread the word.
When there is so much to say —and social enterprises always have that social and environmental added value on top of the services they provide— it seems to me a wasted opportunity to not take advantage of it. Where other conventional businesses need to make huge efforts to find a kind story to clean their reputation, co-operatives and social enterprises are already a long way ahead. So let’s use it. Let’s tell our story and let’s do it not just for our organisations, but also for ourselves, the professionals writing posts, designing leaflets, and keeping websites up-to-date. It’s always satisfactory to go home knowing you’ve told a lovely story, the story of your social enterprise doing good, and it wasn’t a fake or a pose, but a truly reflection of your business’ everyday work.
Guest blog written for Social Enterprise Mark as a PR Executive of The Phone Co-op. Find the original article here: http://www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk/communicating-social-enterprises-satisfaction-good-stories-tell-2/