Not for Profits Should Deliver CSR Messages: Report
19 November 2014 at 9:16 am
Beneficiaries of Corporate Social Responsibility programs and Not for Profits are the preferred voices for consumers to hear from when companies deliver CSR communications, according a new paper.
Communications academics, Sora Kim of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Mary Ann T. Ferguson of the University of Florida, surveyed 663 people representative of general U.S. consumers.
The survey showed consumer demand for CSR beneficiaries and Not for Profits, rather than companies themselves, to deliver CSR communications.
In terms of content, consumers especially wanted to know who benefited from a firm’s CSR activities and what actually happened as a result of the firm’s previous CSR.
The sample valued CSR activities that were “personally relevant to external stakeholders” and wanted specific examples of how a firm’s CSR work impacted daily life.
Consumers preferred CSR messaging that was low-key, less promotional and based on factual information, and also wanted to learn about third-party endorsements of CSR activities such as a firm’s partnerships with Not for Profits or non-government organisations.
“There has been little done in this area before,” the researchers said. ”Previous research has emphasised the general consequences of CSR activities on the financial performance of an organisation or general attitudes toward the organisation without much consideration on communication aspects.”
“Without distinguishing “what to communicate” and “how to communicate” about CSR from the CSR activity itself, we cannot accurately measure the relative success of the communication process itself; particularly since, to date, there has been little framework development for ‘what makes CSR communication effective’ from the stakeholders’ perspectives.”
The research revealed that young people (18-24) and older people (65+), showed the highest levels of interest in CSR information.
Females were more receptive to CSR communication than are males, and were also repelled more by self-promotion, lack of message transparency and lack of consistency in CSR messages.
The paper by Kim and Ferguson, “Public Expectations of CSR Communication: What and How to Communicate CSR,” is in the November 2014 issue of Public Relations Journal.