The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility & Public Relations

October 23, 2006 at 9:51 pm 2 comments

The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility & Public Relations

Public Relations practitioners can no longer afford to take the back seat when it comes to encouraging corporate social responsibility. I recently read an article regarding Wal-Mart and it’s poor reputation. According to the article, Fortune magazine reported Wal-Mart as the “most admired company” in 2004. It went on to add that although it may be the most admired company, it is also among the most sued. Wal-Mart has been forced into court appearances for sexual discrimination charges and wage violations. Many believe that no matter how talented a PR practitioner is, until Wal-Mart changes their policies and commit to a more socially responsible mission, they will always have the reputation of being ‘unfair or unreasonable to their employees’.

This article made me realize that the role of PR practitioners has changed over the years. We are no longer just responsible for handling the after effects of a decision made by upper management, but are now taking on a more proactive approach. The challenge for internal and external public relations people is to lead organizations in more socially responsible practices. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) involves operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business. The aim of CSR is achieving sustainable development not only in the economical dimension but also in the social and environmental dimensions. Public relations have been called the “conscience” of management, which underscores PR’s role in reminding an organization of its social responsibility to all of its publics. I believe that the ‘modern’ PR practitioner is responsible for ensuring more socially responsible practices.

For more information regarding corporate social responsibility and public relations check out:
1. Article: Wal-Mart Tired of Critics’ Complaints. Retail Giant Goes on PR Offensive to Repair Image.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4130756/
This link is where I found the article on Wal-Mart and it’s poor reputation. The article outlines how Wal-Mart has been under attack for some of the store’s policies and how this has lead to bad publicity for the store.

2. Handling Bad Publicity. How to Cope When Bad News Breaks. http://www.bcentral.co.uk/business-information/marketing/marketing-methods/handling-bad-publicity.mspx
This is a great site because it provides some tips for handling bad publicity. Let’s face it, we will not always be able to control what management does, but we can minimize its negative effects. This is a great guidebook for any PR person entering the field.

3. The Canadian Public Relations Society http://www.cprs.ca/Welcome/e_Welcome.htm
This is a great website because you can navigate your way through various public relations topics including the code of professional standards for PR practitioners, accreditation, as well as a link for students.

Jasmine Foreman

Future PR Practitioner

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jamie Gill  |  November 1, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    Hello Jasmine,

    I am the first one to post a reply.

    To start off I enjoyed reading your blog entry. I totally agree with you that Social Responsibility is vital and the PR Practitioner role has changed over the years. In class we learned of Strategic Planning, Media Relations, Crisis Communications among other plans. These sorts of plans are important for the PR Practitioner to do and to have well established communication plans. Again, to restate my point the PR Practiitioners role has changed, and it has changed in the fact there is more work and more things to consider.

    In regard to Wal-Mart, and them having law suits, I think THEY SHOULD HAVE RESEARCHED MORE. If you remember back to the Team Presentations, Carly and Cherie did theirs on the RACE Formula, meaning Research, Action and Planning, Communication and Evaluation. From reading your blog I think Wal- Mart lacked in these 4 areas, and the PR Practitioner or the person or persons in charge of Crisis Communications needed to research more.

    Jamie Gill

    Reply
  • 2. Adam Wencel  |  November 2, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    As time progresses, Walmart is becoming larger than a corporate entity. It is essentially becoming an idea that is recognized through low prices, great service to the public through volunteer action and donation, and it also has the friendly community attachment framed around its image. But, you are right Jasmine, in the sense that we now have to address multiple issues with the utmost concern. For example, the sweatshop incidents that have unraveled in the last few years have brought great calamity to Walmart’s community image. Jamie has mentioned the gist of what I would agree with, but as Bob lectures in each class, “always be truthful, never lie.”

    Reply

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