It has been discussed on many platforms that the relationship between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Public Relations (PR) is a debate in perpetuity.
For clarification purposes, CSR is simply a set of practices that organizations and individuals use to contribute their quota to the well-being of their immediate community. Corporate Social Responsibility programs need to be genuine, not just for marketing purposes.
The debate has been “Can corporate social responsibility ever really be a genuine act, or is it somehow a PR stunt?”. It would be okay to scream that CSR is not and should not be a Publicity tool for organizations, but it is only appropriate to say that PR is inevitable in the practice of CSR — why? — because it comes in handy to communicate this CSR to internal and external stakeholders in order for them to understand the organization’s commitments and efforts.
Although CSR is not to be used for PR purposes, it is a source of positive image building for the organization or brand, and hence is positive PR
Wouldn’t you agree that Brand Communication is how organizations tell the world about their strategies? Without effective PR, this would not be achievable. If an organization decides to give food to members of a community, would it be known by the community if not for a strong communication strategy behind them? Unlikely.
However, it is important that the communication be done such that the CSR initiative is on the front line and not just boosting the Organization’s image. The role of PR in this process is to ensure that customers, along with internal and external stakeholders are aware of the organization’s commitment and efforts.
PR can be both a blessing and a curse to CSR — its just a matter of ‘which comes first’ and what the intention is. Done in the opposite order, CSR becomes nothing but a marketing tool, used solely for improving the company’s bottom line.
When used properly, public relations’ goal is to share an organization’s CSR initiatives, and of course in turn, contribute to strengthening its image, position and customers’ trust.