We live in a global, information age, where nothing can remain hidden for long. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated, more critical and more demanding of corporate organizations. They choose to make their purchases from firms that are perceived to be more client-friendly and client focused; firms that show that they care and who are more environmentally friendly and are seen to give back to society. Even children these days, call to question the veracity or authenticity of some advertorials that they encounter in the mass media; even when these advertorials have children as their core target audience.

We foresaw these technicalities that would change the face of corporate and marketing communications, many years ago as we planned to establish a strategic, research- and customer-focused and responsive public relations and marketing communications consultancy. In fact, stakeholder engagements held such a place of prominence in our visioning and thinking that it featured prominently in our mission statement – “to work with organizations of different sizes to engender transformative change that guarantees a safe, just, equitable and sustainable world that services the needs of the present generation without compromising the future generations inheritance of a better planet”.

The first idea we had was to publish a biennial or quarterly online journal or magazine that would explore the depth, texture and dimensions of public relations. This sounded really good at the onset but as we further deliberated on this, digging deeper into the advantages and disadvantages, we realized that this type of publication would largely appeal to those in corporate practice.  What strategies would be all-inclusive, we pondered? What strategies would enable us involve the people, communities, NGOs, government and other stakeholders? We went back to the drawing board.  Here, we would need to acknowledge the impact of friends of who brainstormed with us looking for that functional idea.

When we emerged from this round of brainstorming, it was obvious that we would need to expand the concept beyond just publishing an online report.  This marked the birth of The SERAS CSR Awards, as we know it today – where participating organizations showcase their work around corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability to society and society in turn assesses and rates the performance of participating companies. Thus, both organizations and stakeholders together set the agenda and plot the way forward for mutually beneficial future encounters.

This thinking gave birth to the glamorous and grand SERAS ceremony. Though the actual ceremony happens over about four hours on a single night, the countdown to the D-day spans many months of activities, verifications, locations visits, hundreds of interviews, and other forms of preparation. The highlights of these activities include the call for entries, submission of entries by participating organizations, the field trips to cited CSR projects, voting by the general public and the meetings of the judges who make the final decisions about the winners.