PR is NOT CSR...!

If you are under the impression that CSR could be swept under the carpet of PR or could be added to the job specification of HR, you are likely to make as big a mistake as ignoring the imminent threats to the planet and its life sustaining conditions. I have talked about HR in my previous post, today its PR’s turn!

In August 1978, the World Assembly of Public Relations Associations defined PR as

“The art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest.”

However this definition could go as close as possible to CSR, it definitely lacks some fundamental concepts of CSR, so to say. The word ‘public’ here is limited to prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, other stakeholders and Media with an objective of informing the public and ultimately persuade them to maintain a certain view about the organization, its leadership, products, or of political decisions. With flair of advocacy, this certainly makes PR an advanced, sophisticated form of Branding or Image Building in camouflage. And it is not to say that this is wrong. Perceived from the business perspective and Milton Friedman’s view of conducting business, it is perfect and should be acceptable as far as the conceptual deliberation is concerned.

The cause of concern is mixing PR with CSR and worst part – mistaking PR for CSR!

While CSR can adopt some of the principles of PR, the major difference would be in both Objective and Target. Objective of CSR is to keep the things on track by strictly adhering to the triple bottom line of Planet, People and Profit and developing a strategy that will facilitate this objective perpetually; not just communicating what its employer is up to and how good is that picture. No brain-wash of its Public with white or green-wash would suffice. The ‘Culture’ of CSR needs to be developed, imbibed in the DNA of the organization and nurtured relentlessly and religiously; just like one of the qualifying criteria of any CSR initiative, it cannot be a one-off event.

Secondly, while ‘public’, as specified above, is the target of the PR; CSR addresses the entire ‘Universe’ with each and every ecosystem within it including Individual, Society and Environment. Unless and until every individual is made aware of the sustainable development principles, it cannot uphold the society which in turn would be incapable of sustaining the environment. And this is the big responsibility of CSR – to make all the human elements of the ecosystem aware, alert and assenting for the inclusive and balanced development of society at large to live within the doughnut of sustainability.

It’s about our sheer existence and about the existence of millions of other species, flora and fauna as well as the environment that took billions of years to be able to sustain a life form. All this is far more worth than a rising Net-worth and showing a goody-goody picture to the world. White-washing CSR with PR is not going to help; only holistic thinking and broader vision would. Way to go…!

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