AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Spring 2022 Week 9 Lecture Transcript Leadership Communication – Part 1 Welcome to our module on Leadership Communication. We have a lot to cover so I divided the lecture into two parts. [Slide 2 – Parts 1 and 2] Part 1 of my lecture will examine the issues related to your written assignment: Critique of a corporate leader’s advocacy and implementation of a CSR initiative. For this written assignment, you should rely on • Villagra & Cárdaba, Communicating CSR article, which we’ll cover now. • Also refer back to our earlier reading from Chaudri on the communication imperative • In this lecture, I reference another reading by Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen, which is posted to Blackboard in Lesson 9 as an optional reading. It is not required and is not available in e-reserves. My second lecture, which is “Part 2” prepares you for your online discussion this week. [Slide 3 – Communicating CSR] We’ve previously studied that Communicating CSR actions does not always translate into positive public perception. In some cases, CSR communication has been met with skepticism, or rejected outright. Therefore, we need to better understand what makes CSR communication appealing and convincing. Page 1 of 6 AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Leadership Communication To add to our understanding, Nuria Villagra, Miguel Cárdaba and Jose San Román conducted an experimental study to assess how “fit” influences the effectiveness of CSR communication. I prefer the word “alignment” to fit because in corporate communication we strive for alignment with brand, leadership, tone, and stakeholder interests. The authors also use the term “coherence,” which resonates with me, because of its association with meaning-making and purpose. [Slide 4 – Types of fit] Specifically, these researchers considered two types of fit. The first is corporate fit, how well CSR messages and promotion of CSR matches corporate activities. A tight corporate fit results from CSR goals and activities that are easily associated with the company’s core operations, brand, and mission. The second is personal fit. Personal fit is how well a CSR message aligns with issues and causes that its audience members care about—things that are personally relevant. [Slide 5–rocks] Turning to the study conducted, the authors note that a good fit between the public’s expectations and associations of a company, and the company’s CSR actions, generate or maintain message credibility. However, audiences are suspicious of messages that seem too self-serving. Page 2 of 6 AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Leadership Communication [Slide 6 – Findings] The subjects in the corporate fit and control groups rated the oil company as sincere and honest to a similar extent. Subjects in the corporate fit and control groups showed a similar willingness to sign a declaration in favor of the company. Subjects in the personal fit group viewed the company as sincere and honest to a significantly higher degree than the control group, and marginally higher than those in the corporate fit group. Personal fit in CSR communication significantly increases the likelihood that audiences will behave favorably toward the company, even if the message is not obviously aligned with the normal operations of the company. This is just one study. It is unclear whether findings are generalizable to other industries and CSR messages. However, we can also imagine that CSR messages that align with both a company’s core mission and brand in addition to stakeholder interests, would be especially well received. [Slide 7 – Trust ] Page 3 of 6 AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Leadership Communication The authors reiterate the critical distinction between product branding and corporate branding. The latter is more relevant to CSR communication, and encompasses ethical values and attributes in addition to quality, innovation, customer focus, and safety. Message attributes affect credibility. CSR rests on values that are: truly integrated into the company; expressed in all corporate interactions with the public (and employees); and self-reflective or self-critical. CSR messages generally enjoy greater credibility when they come from sources not controlled by the company. Think about how you approach the job search and workforce performance reviews; recommendations from others carry more weight than your self reports. Corporate credibility works much the same way. [Slide 8 – CSR Legitimacy Anne Ellerup] A few additional points about legitimacy come from a study that you were not assigned to read called: Reviewing corporate social responsibility communication: a legitimacy perspective, by Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen. This study examines legitimacy issues within the context of a license to operate. Here are some of the key points: • CSR communication is a method of gaining legitimacy with stakeholders by integrating their desires and expectations into the overall company strategy. Page 4 of 6 AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Leadership Communication • The authors cite a quotation from another paper by Palazzo and Scherer explaining that: “Legitimacy is considered vital for the survival of organizations and a prerequisite for the flow of resources and stakeholder support.” • They cite Coombs and Holladay (2012) use of the term: self-promoter paradox, which is essentially the juxtaposition of society’s demands for transparency and their sensitivity to rhetoric. The demands for transparency require companies to document their activities, but skepticism over “window dressing” and “greenwashing” challenge communicators to develop messages that resonate. [Slide 9 – Blue box of messages] The authors offer three strategies for developing messages that support legitimacy and don’t run the risk of antagonizing stakeholders. These strategies are not unlike the strategies we learned from Coombs earlier in the semester, but they’re organized in a helpful manner. 1. 2. 3. Conform—Greenpeace and Nike 1. React and change based on the activist messages 2. Nike finally conformed to Greenpeace’s demands, but it was too late to save their reputation Defend and proactively develop — Honeymaid 1. Essentially, stand your ground and communicate your position more convincingly. Collaborate —Cargill Palm Oil 1. developing strategy in conjunction with stakeholder needs If you recall, Tim Coombs offered crisis communications response strategies back during week 3 in order to de-escalate a CSR challenge. His were to: 1) recognize/acknowledge the problem without committing to change; or 2) revise/reform business practices. I personally think the strategies offered here by Nielsen and Thomsen are more practical, but don’t feel obligated to refer to these in your writing assignment for this week. You Page 5 of 6 AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Leadership Communication can rely on any of the assigned readings to defend your position in this week’s assignment. [Slide 10 — Homework] For this assignment, you will critique a corporate leader’s advocacy and implementation of a CSR initiative of your choosing. You will research and select a corporate CSR campaign to critique through on-line research of CSRWire and related sources in the open and peer reviewed literature. [Reminder from Chaudri’s article] Here are some quick highlights from Chaudri’s aricle, which we read during week 1. • Employee buy-in as a starting point for CSR Messaging (to avoid the “Catch 22” of CSR message scrutiny) • Communication as a “signaling mechanism for stakeholders and peer organizations.” • Communication should not be a “chest thumping” exercise • Media Endorsement: alignment with core brand identity and CSR objectives, along with creating value for society. Page 6 of 6 AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Spring 2022 Week 9 Lecture Transcript Leadership Communication – Part 2 Welcome to the second lecture on Leadership Communication. [Slide 2 – Parts 1 and 2] In the first lecture, we covered the readings and content that will support your written assignment. This lecture, which is Part 2, prepares you for your discussion this week, which centers on CEO activism, supported by these readings: • Why ceos can’t stay silent • The new CEO activists • Assessing the impact of CEO activism is an optional reading and is not necessary [Slide 3 – Paul Polman] In this lecture, we focus on leadership messaging and specifically CEO messaging. So as a form of transition, I invite all of you to familiarize yourself with former Unilever CEO Paul Polman. Paul was CEO of Unilever from 2009 to 2018, he’s widely known among communications professionals as one of the most effective and influential business communicators ever. [Slide 4 – Paul Polman] Page 1 of 9 AS.480.642.81 – CSR Campaigns Leadership Communication Specifically, what made his mes
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