CSR on display: using spectacles and storytelling as stakeholder engagement mechanisms

Keywords: Corporate reputation management, Corporate social responsibility, Spectacles, Stakeholder engagement mechanisms, Storytelling

Abstract

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly used by communication professionals, not only to bolster the image and reputation of organisations, but as a means to facilitate stakeholder engagement. Recent literature suggests that social networking sites (SNSs) are suitable platforms to communicate CSR messages as these media aid organisations in creating meaningful dialogic interactions with stakeholders through purposeful engagement and the co-creation of meaning. While notions of trust creation and the forging of organisation-stakeholder bonds have been investigated, this article proposes that theoretical constructs such as archetypal plots, social visibility, spectacles and spectatorship inherent to storytelling have not been explored comprehensively within the context of CSR communication. To ascertain whether these theoretical categories manifest in practice in corporate communication, the authors examined the CSR communication of First National Bank (FNB), which was communicated on its SNSs. Through a hermeneutical analysis, it was established that FNB incorporated three archetypes, namely the Caregiver, the Innocent and the Hero, in its CSR communication. These archetypes functioned within created archetypal narratives such as the quest, adventure and transformation. Lastly, FNB framed its CSR activities as spectacles, and appropriated elements of collective fun such as viral, interactive message content to engage with its stakeholders.

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Published
2019-10-10
Section
Articles