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Csr And Public Relations

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By Author: Sherry Roberts
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CSR is an approach that entails going beyond compliance and engaging in actions that promote the social good, beyond the interest of the company (Jones & Bartlett, 2009). It refers to companies’ decisions to be sensitive to the needs of all stakeholders. The concept of CSR has attracted significant attention from business leaders, government, customers and other stakeholders, in recent years. Today, many firms allocate a significant portion of their budget to CSR projects (Servaes & Tamayo, 2013). A study by Price Waterhouse Cooper (2012) revealed that 75% of companies in the United States have CSR tab on the website. This figure is an indication of the growing popularity of the CSR concept. Proponents of the concept of CSR argue that CSR benefits organizations by generating a projecting a positive company image among members of society (Jones & Bartlett, 2009). It is widely acknowledged that public relation is designed to manage organizations’ reputation. 85% of CEO’s agrees that public relations handle organizations’ reputation (Wrestling with rules, 2003). Public relations, in the current business environment, are synonymous with corporate communication. Most organizations rely on continuous communication with stakeholders to maintain the reputation of the corporate (Eldman, 2004). Public relations seek to assist organizations to build relationships with its public, improve understanding of the organization among the public, and manage conflicts (Laskin, 2009). It deals with concerns that affect corporate stakeholders such as public interests and the reputation of the business to the stakeholders. Consequently, there is an overlap between public relations goals and CSR goals. However, most organizations have separate PR and CSR departments. To what extent do these departments interact to build a good corporate reputation? Are PR specialists and personnel in charge of CSR programs aware of the interdependence of the two departments? Although it is evident that PR and CRS shares common goal (improving the reputation of the organization to the stakeholders), it is unclear to what extent they interact.

Problem Statement
Despite the widely acknowledged relationship between public relations and corporate social responsibility, very few studies have explored the definite role of public relations in corporate social responsibility, especially in the American context, and the extent to which specialist in the two departments understand their interdependence. As organizations continue to adopt system thinking in their operations, and implement enterprise resource planning that focus on viewing an organization as one system, there is a great need to understand the interdependence between the two areas.
The proposed study seeks to examine the interdependence between CSR and public relations. It focuses on investing to what extent do the PR functions interacts with CSR functions and the extent practitioners in both areas understand their interdependence. The researcher intends to utilize the questionnaires to collect data because the research aims to generalize findings. Understanding the interdependence between the two departments will improve their cooperation, reduce areas of conflict, and consequently improve and maintain the reputation of an organization. In addition, the study will empower PR practitioners to contributing to the development of effective CSR strategies, engage in CSR’s best practices, and promote the legitimacy and credibility of PR specialists. The subjects of study are PR specialists operating in organizations that have CSR components and personnel in charge of planning and executing CSR programs.
Research Questions
The study seeks to answer the quest: What is the extent of interdependence between public relations and corporate social responsibility? In order to answer this question, the study seeks to answer the following specific questions.
1. What is the role that corporate assigns public relations in relation to the management of their social responsibility?
2. What are the specific areas PR functions and CSR functions interact
3. To what extent do public relation specialists improve the reputation of a corporate through CSR?
Often, CSR PR functions to project and communicate CSR initiatives. One of the criticisms of corporate CSR initiatives is that the management of SCR initiatives is too closely linked to the public relations department. As such, organizations need to fight criticism by ensuring PR and CSR interacts at more mutual and beneficial ways. Although public relations is widely accepted as having the responsibility for managing the reputation of a corporate, there is a huge debate on the role of public relations in managing and executing CSR programs and initiatives.
The outcome of the proposed study will add value to the field of public relations by highlighting how firms can employ PR to facilitate the realization of CSR relations goals without attracting the criticism. It will also help PR specialists identify their rightful position in strategic decision making processes that involve the formulation, implementation and communication of CSR programs.
Literature Review
It is imperative for one to comprehend the concept of CSR before exploring how this practice can contribute to public relations. In literature, CSR is an ill-defined concept. (Servaes and Tamayo, 2013) defined CSR as organizational commitment to contribute to sustainable economic development of employees, their families, local communities, and investors so as to improve the overall wellbeing of society. (Vohra & Sheel, 2012) described CSR as a concept that emphasizes the need for business to invest a port of their efforts and profits in the society and the natural environment. (Jones & Bartlett, 2009) defined CSR as a business concept that entails going beyond compliance and engaging in actions that promote the social good, beyond the interest of the company.
Theoretical Review
The concept of CSR builds from various organizational theories. The stakeholder theory of corporate governance is one of the significant theories that support the usefulness of the concept of CSR to organization. The stakeholder theory of corporate governance suggest that firms have an obligation to meet the long-term needs of all its stakeholders including local communities, suppliers, employees, customers, and shareholders (Branco & Rodrigues, 2007). The stakeholder theory of corporate government was developed as an alternative to the shareholders theory of corporate governance, which suggests that firms are only liable to shareholders. The stakeholder theory of corporate governance views CSR as a vehicle for assisting organizations to meet their obligations towards external stakeholders.
Another theory that may explain the contribution of CSR to PR is the CSR as a signal of product quality theory. This theory suggests that CSR can act as a signal of the quality of the company’s product (Servaes & Tamayo, 2013). Consumers often believe that companies that are highly preoccupied with making profits tend to lower the quality of their products so as to save costs. According to the proponent of the theory, customers believe that such companies can never invest in CSR projects because they view them as unnecessary costs. For this reason, investing in CSR can send a message that the products of a given firm are of the highest quality.
Empirical Studies
The link between CSR and PR is widely researched subject. Clark (2000), explored the differences between PR and CSR by reviewing their origins, processes, theories, and primary responsibilities. The article found that the two concepts were quite similar in respect to these aspects. Each discipline has borrowed cues from the other. The study found that the functions and process of PR were similar to key topics in CSR. Similarly, CSR had pushed itself to the center of the PR field. However, the comparison revealed the absence of effective communication in SCR literature; yet, include effective communication techniques can enhance the development and the overall management of stakeholder relationships. This article is relevant to the current study as it highlights essential similarities between PR and SCR. Understanding these similarities will enhance our understanding of how CSR can contribute to PR.
Kim and Reber (2008), explored the contribution of public relations to CSR. They gathered qualitative data from a sample of 173 PR professionals so as to analyze their contributions and roles in CSR. The practitioners reported that PR contributes to CSR in four main ways; philanthropic, significant management, value-driven, and communication. PR enhances the philanthropic role by promoting charitable giving and promoting volunteering. Significant management entails advising or advocating management on CSR issues. Value driven role suggests that PR promotes CSR by selling it as a value-adding activity. The communication role suggests that PR contributes to CSR by communicating the firm’s CSR activities to the public. This article is relevant to the proposed study as understanding how PR contributes to CSR will help us to understand how CSR contributes to PR.
Mitra (2011) examined the link between CSR and the reputation of a large Indian automobile manufacturing firm, Tata. He noted that Tata was one of the Indian firms that have embraced the concept of CSR. He implemented a qualitative case study research with the aim of assessing the impact of Tata’s CSR activities on the company’s reputation. The author examined the company’s website, Tata’s most recent CSR documents, annual reports, and stock market analysts’ reports. Results of the study showed that Tata’s CSR activities portrayed the company as a national heritage, a leader in technology advancement, and a responsible company. These results suggest that Tata’s CSR activities had a positive effect on the firm’s reputation. This article is relevant to the presents study as it supports the claim that CSR can contribute positively to public relations. It supports the call for companies to align their CSR activities with larger PR goals.
Owazuaka (2014), examine the role of CSR in assisting oil companies in Nigeria to build positive relationships with local communities. These authors noted that oil companies in Nigeria have for a long time encountered hostile encounters with local communities. Oil companies have, in return, initiated numerous CSR projects so as to mend their relationship with local communities. In this study, (Owazuaka, 2014) utilized a qualitative approach to examine whether the CSR initiatives have improved the relationship between oil companies and local communities in Nigeria. Findings show that local communities have began to develop positive attitudes towards oil companies after these companies invested in CSR projects that facilitate their needs. This article is relevant to the proposed study as its findings support the hypothesis. The findings show that CSR has the potential of advancing PR’s main goal of maintaining good relationships with the organization and its public.
Yoon & Gurhan (2006), examined the effect of CSR on firms with bad reputations. These authors noted that there was a naïve theory that consumers often take CSR activities at face value and confer positive features to any company that undertakes such activities. These researchers study sought to dispel this theory when it comes to companies that have bad reputations. They hypothesized that the effect of CSR activity on firms that have bad reputations is dependent on the benefit-salience of the CSR activity and the source of information. They argue that when the firm CSR activities have a high benefit-salience, and customers learn about these activities from the firms, customers become suspicious of the motives of these companies CSR activities; thus, undermining the companies’ effort. Conversely, when the CSR activity has a low benefit-salience, and customers learn of the activity from a neutral source, these consumers develop a positive attitude towards the firm. The authors gathered quantitative data from a sample of 128 undergraduate students in order to test the hypotheses. Results of the study validated the researchers’ hypotheses. This article is of significance to the proposed study as it highlights factors that affect CSR contributions towards PR goals. The article suggests that the benefit-salience of a CSR activity and the mode of informing the public about the CSR project have a noteworthy effect on the contribution of CSR to the image of the firm.
Godwin (2008) analyzed the patterns and trends in PR literature regarding CSR. The authors executed a content analysis method on articles published between 1998 and 2007. The analysis revealed that PR scholars have broadened their approach to CSR from one that focuses solely on communication management to one that incorporates the relationship management component of PR. These findings are relevant to the proposed study as they suggest that there are opportunities for CSR to play a part in PR by fostering a stronger linkage between organizations, society and stakeholders.
Goi (2009) explored the contributions that PR makes to CSR programs from a Malaysian perspective. These authors noted that CSR and PR are both concerned with promoting the interest of society, environment, communities, employees, and ethics. For this reason, the two concepts can reinforce each other in a business setting. The authors collected data from a sample of Malaysian firms in order to investigate the contribution of PR to CSR. Findings reveal that PR supports CSR programs by facilitating communicating these programs and the managing the relationship between the firm and stakeholders. These findings are relevant to the proposed study as they prove the existence of a link between CSR and PR.
Research Gaps
The review of the literature shows that the link between CSR and PR is a widely researched subject. However, existing publications have mainly focused on examining how public relations contribute to CSR programs but fails to define the exact role of PR in supporting CSR activities. There are a lot of gray areas on how PR functions and CSR initiatives interact to improve the reputation of corporate. As a result, it is essential to explore the extent to which corporate public relation orientation and CSR programs interact to improve corporate image. In order to understand the interdependence, it is vital to explore what are the specific functions PR practitioners perform that promote CSR and what aspects of CSR programs or initiatives requires the participation of PR specialist.

Branco, M. & Rodrigues, L. (2007) Positioning stakeholder theory within the debate on CSR: Business Ethics and Organization Studies. 12 (1) 5- 15.
Clark, C. (2000) Differences between PR and CSR: An analysis. Public Relations Review. 26 (3) 363- 380.
Ganga, D. (212) CSR and public relations leadership in India. Public Relations Review. 38 (1) 141- 143.
Godwin, F. & Bartlett, J (2008) Public relations and CSR. QUT Digital Repository. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/15427/1/15427.pdf
Goi, C. & Yong, K. (2009) Contribution of PR to CSR: A review of Malaysia perspective. Marketing Studies. 1 (2) 46- 49.
Jones, L. & Bartlett, L. (2009) the strategic value of CSR as a relationship management framework for public relations. Prism 6 (1) 1- 16.
Kim, S. & Reber, B. (2008) PR’s place in CSR: Practitioners define their role. Public Relations Review. 34 (1) 337- 342.
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Owazuaka, W. & Obinna, I. (2014) Corporate Social Responsibility: The Marketing Implications. Academic Research Journal. 6 (4) 221- 226.
A joint report by Craib design & communications and Price Waterhouse Coopers (2012) . A comprehensive survey of CSR Trends,
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Stacks, D. (2010) Primer of Public Relations Research. USA; Guilford Press, Florida
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Wrestling with rules and reputations. (2003, November 10). PR Week,pp.16-22
Yoon, Y. Gurhan-Canli, Z. & Schwarz, N. (2006) the effect of CSR activities on firms with bad reputations: Consumer Psychology. 16 (4) 377- 390.

Carolyn Morgan is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in nursing research paper writing service. if you need a similar paper you can place your order for a custom research paper from custom nursing writing service.

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