CSR= PR tool?

It’s no news that CSR and PR are closely interrelated. In a company, every action must be supervised by PR in order to make sure that no conflicts or misunderstandings arise. On the other hand, CSR is all about environmental issues, respecting human rights at the workplace and ethical approaches.

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The main question that arises is: do companies use CSR as a PR tool? Critics would argue that CSR programmes are undertaken to distract the public from the core issues and that corporations use CSR as a tool for their commercial benefit, by building relationships.

From my perspective, the majority of companies do boost their credibility and image due to their CSR activity, but the core issue is whether they use it just to promote their brand and be seen as a trustworthy, responsible and environmental-friendly company, or they actually undertake CSR activities with a real feeling of contributing to the community.csr-corporate-social-responsibility-370x229

In 2010, Marks & Spencer was named the UK’s greenest supermarket by Ethical Consumer magazine, based on companies’ policies on ethical and environmental issues such as animal welfare, workers’ rights and sustainable sourcing. In this case, did M & S have any PR benefits? Of course, the news was all over the media and this “award” brought them a lot of extra credibility.

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Did their profits register a tremendous increase? As Diana was saying, people that care more about price that quality and can’t afford to shop from M & S won’t change their behaviour just because of this national recognition; but on the other hand, being named the UK’s greenest supermarket certainly brought M & S an advantage in comparison to its closest competitors: Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, etc.

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So, in my view, any CSR activity carries PR benefits, but I think it’s highly unethical of a company to undertake CSR approaches and activities, just for media coverage and building reputation. Any CSR campaign should be based on a real concern and care for ethical behaviour, environmental impact and respecting human rights.

Ruxandra

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3 thoughts on “CSR= PR tool?

  1. Laura says:

    CSR is more than a legal requirement…and it benefits any business on so many levels: it establishes corporate values, corporate commitment to society and highlights the rights of those it employs… indeed, in the PR industry, many companies still think of CSR as a profitable PR tool, but CSR is much more than that… I have recently come across statistics which show that 87 per cent of UK consumers expect companies to consider their impact on society as much as their own business interests.. so all companies should start thinking first at the consequences of their actions, rather than their immediate interests.

  2. Hello, Laura. Thank you for commenting. Indeed, I agree that the value of CSR is underestimated and many companies still see it as an obligation. But I think it is just a matter of time until the CSR policies will be deeply embedded in any organisation’s structure. As it’s quite a new term, people, as always, are resistant to change and they would rather stick to their old habits. I think that education and access to information are essential in the process of making people acknowledge the importance of CSR. What do you reckon?

    Ruxandra

  3. Tom says:

    In the small organisation I work for, CSR approaches are quite new to everybody, so people do not care too much about it; they just go on with their daily routines… fact that proved once again that.. yes.. it is true.. some individuals don’t bother to change their behaviours, attitudes, etc.. we live in a fast paced society, where technology develops every day.. so I’d argue that we should start adapting.. FASTER. To answer your question, Ruxandra, I think that with time, companies will start paying more attention to CSR and concentrate their business around it but the main question that arises is HOW LONG will that take….?

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