Rachel Watkins

Rachel Watkins, senior marketing manager at Belo + Company, spent the last several years working on branded content for the Dallas Morning News product and helping develop FWD-DFW, an initiative that sparks awareness and conversation around the equitable education, health and wellness in North Texas. FWD>DFW spotlights the stories of companies and causes that are making a difference in the Dallas community and beyond.

“Consumers expect businesses to invest in their community and beyond, making civically minded and socially responsible companies the ideal partners for branded content,” Watkins said.

FWD>DFW works with its partners to provide content that educates, informs, and impacts North Texas. It’s about how to move FWD — together. Great examples of corporate social responsibility campaigns from their partners include Frito Lay supporting Operation Smile, Baylor Scott and White connecting veterans with service dogs, and The Birthday Party Project from Toyota.

Ninety percent of consumers say they want companies to tell them how they are supporting causes and making a difference. This is why it’s crucial for corporate social responsibility (CSR) to be part of local media branded content initiatives.

And here are a few reasons why:

1. By producing custom branded content that reflects your clients’ community priorities, you amplify the mission, vision and impact of their CSR initiatives. Through the power of storytelling, you’re strategically bringing their social-good impact to life for consumers who wouldn’t otherwise hear about it.

2. A CSR approach to branded content creates a positive halo effect for your clients. You can compellingly showcase companies and their causes, and that builds brand reputation and drives competitive advantage as well as awareness, acquisition and loyalty among target audiences — with significant millennial and Generation Z impact, too.

3. You’re also helping companies retain and acquire talent by celebrating their social responsibility as well as focusing on diversity and inclusion.

4. With CSR stories, you’re encouraging volunteer and donor engagement, as well as other civic engagement priorities, such as voting, advocacy, and more.

Consumers expect businesses to invest in their communities and beyond. This makes civically minded and socially responsible companies the ideal partners for branded content.

“When a brand’s messaging is based on things that really matter, consumers engage differently and even volunteer their attention. It’s a move from ad interruption to ad attraction,” Watkins said.

Looking for advice or assistance building your own cause marketing and corporate social responsibility initiatives? The Branded Content Project team is here to help!