Public an integral part of the successful running of

Public relations and corporate
social responsibility are internationally known concepts, however dependant on
the culture they are being used in, their meaning and the way they are
conducted can be altered. Public relations can be described as the way in which
companies communicate with both the media and the public they are associated
with, whilst corporate social responsibility is used within business to ensure
that everything conducted is ethical, for both the business and its consumers. Corporate
Social Responsibility and Public relations share common interests and a dual
responsibility in bringing accountability to the organisation. As public
relations has expanded, corporate social responsibility has intergraded into an
essential part of the process, with many holding the opinion that ‘without it,
a business is unlikely to prosper in the long term’ (Morris and Goldsworthy,
2016).

For a business, an organisation
having a successful CSR can affect a whole host of people, including potential
customers, stakeholders and shareholders. Positive CSR starts from the inside
of a company, if employees have an internal issue, it is essential to address
this issue first in order to be socially responsible. A positive company image
will then trickle out to new potential customers, stakeholders and so on. CSR
covers not just the business it its working within, according to Mintzberg
(1983) there are 4 different forms of CSR; CSR for its own sake, CSR for
enlightened self-interest, CSR for a reward In the market and CSR for external
politics. Different countries and cultures take different stances regarding the
use of CSR within PR and business. In order to get a clear idea of how CSR is
used within different locations and whether they are similar or differ, is to
analyse different corporate websites from different parts of the world. In this
instance, a news website from within the United States and another from within Europe (United Kingdom) will be analysed.

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Within the USA, corporate social responsibility is part
of a business and its public relations department, and as years go on is
becoming an integral part of the successful running of a business. Despite companies
within the US not being regulated to incorporate CSR within business, it has
been integrated due to social standing. Companies have become aware that
stakeholders and customers expect more from the business than just a quality
product, they expect every part of the business to conduct itself ethically. Businesses
within the US have also understood that ‘encompassing
corporate responsibility in the US go beyond environmental, legal and workplace
issues to ones that best enhance a company’s external reputation’ (Contributor,
2017)  and therefore, a positive company reputation
will be beneficial to the company financially and ethically. CSR is important
in Europe as it benefits enterprises, the economy and the society. Similarly to
the USA, there are no CSR laws put in place for companies, however the European
Commission has put a strategy in place for businesses to follow including;
Enhancing the visibility of CSR and disseminating good practices and improving
company disclosure of social and environmental information (Growth, 2017).

As many businesses
across Europe and the USA are ensuing CSR is an integral part of the company, they
should be ensuring that their websites reflect this. The website of a company
is the home of the brand, reaching more customers around the company than a
store could, therefore many customers and potential customers judge the brand
based on the website. The company website gives the business a chance to
communicate their ethical beliefs, brand mission statement and their stance on
how they aim to help their customers, the economy and the environment instead
of just listing products for sale with seasonal promotions. A positive
corporate image though the website can go a long way in sending out a positive or
negative messages to customers.

Thornton’s chocolate
is a British chocolatiers established in 1911 which was then taken over by an Italian
company in 2015, falling within EU CSR regulations. Their website is one of
their major windows to customers and therefore one of the largest reflections
of the brand as they don’t use television advertising on a regular basis. The
brand has made their website a destination, a hub of product and brand
information with an aesthetically pleasing and modern layout which is easy to
navigate. Nestled between their pages of chocolates and gifts, are a whole host
of examples of CSR. One of the most prominent examples is the link to their new
advert which supports SSAFA which is an armed forces charity. The advert
features a man from the armed services returning for Christmas to meet his
partners family, with chocolate in hand, the website holds the information that
over the Christmas period Thornton’s will be donating 2% of sales from the
featured product in the advert. This use of CSR omits a positive brand recognition
for customers as well as a possible increase in sales of the particular product,
giving back to a selected charity sends the message that the brand is doing more
than the minimum to help people in need at Christmas.  A secondary aspect of CSR found within the thorntons
website is their stance on being environmentally friendly, within the business they
aim to do their best with recycling, saving energy and water. As these environmental
aspects are critical in today’s climate, it is important for the brand to make
customers and stakeholders aware they are playing their part to help.

To add to the
image of the organisations values and beliefs, at the bottom of the site is a
link entitled ‘Modern Slavery Act’ which leads customers to a separate tab with
3 pages of information regarding Thornton’s support of the modern slavery act.

The company writes ‘Ferrero
confirms its strong determination to contribute to the elimination of all forms
of slavery, human trafficking, forced or compulsory labour, prison labour, and
child labour, starting from its worst forms’ (Thorntons.co.uk, 2017) along with
their code of ethics, code of conduct for suppliers and the supply chain they
use.  Thornton’s take this time to ensure
customers that that their social responsibility doesn’t just affect their
customers and the environment. They use their websites to explain that their
CSR starts from within their company with education for their employees, safe
working conditions, paying the living wage and ensuring that work hours aren’t excessive
for making the product. Within CSR it is important for employees to be happy
and treated ethically to ensure a good reputation for the brand. On their secondary
site, the company have whole pages dedicated to the history of the brand, their
values and a page dedicated to their stance of CSR which includes information
such as; ethical sourcing, fair trade and other charity programmes they are
involved with.

 

CVS is an American pharmaceutical company with over 9,000 locations
nationwide, the site allows customers to get prescriptions, advice from online
doctors and shop for items such as makeup, skincare and vitamins. Many
customers have access to the a CVS store, but for the customers who cannot make
it out to a store or prefer to shop online, their website is integral for
keeping business as it offers similar services to the physical store. The site itself
is easy to navigate with extensive detail regarding products for sale, money
off offers and advertising for cheaper shipping. The homepage only holds one
specific example of corporate social responsibly by reminding customers to use
CVS to get their flu shots, this advertisement can be seen as beneficial to the
customer as it portrays the image that the company cares about the health of
their customers over the winter, as well as being beneficial to the company as
it is not only bringing in revenue but is also presenting a positive brand
image. Apart from this one example, the CVS website homepage lacks any other
evidence of CSR and deeper investigation into the website may be successful. The
footer of the website holds links to extra information to the company and more
examples of the businesses corporate social responsibility. An example of this
are the company policies on different ethical issues including privacy and non-discrimination.

Within the USA, discrimination is a major ethical issue and therefore the
company raising light to the issue is important. The notice informs customers
that the company believes in non-discrimination of race, colour, age and sex to
name a few and aims to provide services to make their experiences with the
company a positive one. This use of CSR firstly allows stakeholders of the
business an idea of the role CVS plays in the community and the country,
building a strong relationship between both parties and secondly avoids the
company any political and legal backlash.

Also in the footer of the website are links to external pages which lead
customers to the CVS social responsibility site. As a company, CVS offer a
programme entitled Prescription for a Better World. Within this are their three
pillars to make the world a better place including; Health in Action, Planet in
Balance and Leader in growth. Their ‘Health in Action’ pillar includes the
company developing new products which will benefit the customers, this will
also benefit the company and stakeholders as new products mean more revenue for
the business. The second pillar ‘Planet in Balance’ promotes that the company
ensures that they are sustainable when developing products and running business
in everyday life. This pillar omits a positive reputation for the company making
them an environmentally friendly brand, this puts them above the rest in terms
of competition in the pharmaceutical market. Using environmentally friendly
products also shows that the company is being responsible by considering the
welfare of staff by not exposing them to harsh chemicals or practices whilst
making and selling products. Their final pillar is entitled ‘leader in growth’ and
is about growing the business to create economic opportunities for customers, colleagues,
suppliers and investors. This pillar no only gives incentives to customers to
invest within the brand but also potential staff, stakeholder and investors. To
add to this pillar, the website also offers the 2016 CSR report and stakeholder
engagement, giving potential investors an insight into what the company could
offer them over the next year and what it has achieved within the past year.

The website then also offers information regarding their stance on
helping united states veterans, CVS tells customers that they aim to hire
unemployed, current and reserve military members as well as their spouses. Not
only does the site offer information of employment, it also offers fact and
figures surrounding the difference they have already made including ‘CVS Health has committed to hire
veterans and military spouses for 25 percent of our new hires in logistics and
distribution centres, which equates to roughly 1,000 jobs’. (CVS Health, 2017)This
differs to the Thornton’s website based within Europe as they offer the
programmes they have available but give no examples as to how it has helped
people already. Therefore, this is a clever use of CSR through CVS as using
facts, figures and past experiences builds a higher level of trust between company
and customers, stakeholders, partners and suppliers.

Finally, the company also offer
diversity programmes, these include; employee and consumer rights, supplier diversity,
workforce and multicultural products and services. An example of a diversity
plan that is a good representation of CSR is the workforce programme, the programme
includes offering regional learning centres, registered apprenticeships, worker
hiring programme and skills development. To the public, the programmes omit the
image that the company care about the training of future staff and have an abundance
of opportunities to help them develop themselves and a career, whilst within
the company this is a use of CSR for enlightened self-interest as the
programmes train new staff to the highest ability. Having high standards of
staff benefits the company’s reputation and financial situation.

 

After analysing the use of
corporate social responsibility through corporate websites from different
places in the world, both companies are eager to spread the message that they
do all they can to be socially responsible in all aspects of business, from
consumer and employee welfare to being environmentally responsible. As it not
part of the law of both countries, the businesses are promoting their corporate
responsibility for self interest, future profit and to stay politically
correct.