Norman Ng

Firing Blanks Through Corporate Social Responsibility

In Communications Strategy, Public Relations on August 25, 2011 at 10:17

Enterprises are spending good resources on ineffective CSR efforts, an ineffective approach that does little in driving up their triple bottom lines.

In today’s communication climate where information is porous, I got the vibes that many enterprises and governments are perceiving CSR as a means to achieve favourable reputations and stakeholder support. From tree planting efforts, painting walls of an old schoolhouse, to even walking on tightropes to solicit public contributions for “social causes”.

In fact, I personally recalled back in 2008, a senior management official asked other team members of their Ministry should commence a CSR movement, since many enterprises have adopted it..and it could go good to PR efforts. I think its all corporate bull. Spending time, effort and financial resources (to the tune of millions) is not going to get out of the hot soup when a crisis strikes, and certainly no hoards of PR brownie points will help. Take for instance, the SMRT security breach. It spent over $3 million in cash contributions and sponsorships such as in media space and corporate gift, and that was in 2006 by the way. Any public goodwill? Quite unheard of…you get my point.

So is it totally irrelevant? Not so. I think CSR has a place, but solely as  a “hygiene” factor (in Herzberg’s 2 factor theory). It should be seen as a useful approach towards self-regulation in an enterprise’s business model, preventing dissatisfaction or adverse repercussions on society, stakeholders, environment etc. And not as a high publicity, razzle-dazzle activity to get attention and cookie points.

So the next time when PR / Marcomm comes a knockin on the CEO’s door and says,”Lets do some good with CSR!” you ought to pray good money and time are not wasted.


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