by Karin Bloomquist
How can government better contribute to social responsibility efforts? In order to answer that question, we need to better understand the government’s role in promoting and supporting social responsibility initiatives and campaigns. Although social responsibility is more commonly associated with the corporate business sector, it is very important to pay attention to key stakeholders like federal, state, and local governments. In the past few decades, governments have joined other stakeholders in assuming a relevant role as drivers of social responsibility and adopting public sector roles in strengthening initiatives.
Now that the modern world has become inherently globalized with its economies and political challenges, the framework provided by social responsibility initiatives provides society with a way to learn what successful collaboration looks like among corporations, governments, and society. An area of social responsibility that the government focuses heavily on is social marketing, which is a marketing concept that works to develop and integrate marketing tactics with other approaches to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. Through this type of integrated marketing communication, governments are able to better disseminate important health information to key publics and target audiences.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a key agency within the U.S. federal government that successfully integrates public health initiatives with communication and social marketing practices. On their website, they have a dedicated gateway page providing resources to help partners build health communication or social marketing campaigns and programs.
According to the Institute for Public Relations, the CDC and many other health-focused and social change agencies use social media channels as a vital way of communicating with their key audiences. A 2012 report analyzing the CDC’s social media practices found that the center’s efforts were timely, important, and science-and-evidence based and shared pertinent messages of prevention, individual responsibility, safety, and community collaboration. Conclusively, the report stated that the governments who actively use of social media have the potential to influence public health initiatives and beyond on a large scale and garner support for positive social change efforts among policymakers and regulators.
Communications and public relations professionals in the DC metro area who are interested in exploring this kind of work can check out the Washington, District of Columbia office of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Ogilvy Washington), who currently does work on multiple CDC contracts providing specific communications support in the areas of social marketing, health communication, and public affairs.
In summary, federal, state, and local governments play a large role in helping to solve society’s most pressing issues. It is important that all sectors play a part in trying to achieve successful behavior change. Too many companies are waiting for the business case and too many governments have become co-opted or overwhelmed by private interests. Increasing cross-sector social responsibility and establishing more partnerships looks like the answer to increased accountability in the future, and promoting this kind of engagement is exactly how governments can better contribute to social responsibility efforts.