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Finding Best Practices in CSR Communication: Funding for Research

In today’s environment, corporate social responsibility has emerged as an important management concept. Publics expect companies to be engaged in responsible activities that make a significant contribution to communities, the environment, and society. Though corporations have adopted more sustainable and responsible practices, they often struggle to communicate about them effectively. Practitioners find that promoting environmental successes can be risky as they sometimes are met with skepticism or backlash from activist groups. Too, traditional methods of promoting social impacts, community involvement or diversity may be drowned out by the volume of CSR communication in media.

This year I’m managing a call for grant proposals through the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State University to try to answer some of the key questions around CSR communication. In particular, I think the practice would benefit from knowing more about effective measurement of CSR communication impacts, best practices for building relationships with advocacy groups, and successful means of communicating about diversity in the corporate environment. Other possible topics for grants would be: promoting corporate volunteer programs, leveraging community partnerships in communication, and communicating about environmental impacts.

Grants from the call will range from $1000 to $5000, and you can read the full call here: http://thepagecenter.comm.psu.edu/index.php/legacy-scholar-grant/rfp. The deadline for proposals is January 10, 2013. Successful authors may be invited to participate in a webinar, conference panel, and/or a special issue of a PR journal.

At the Page Center we’re interested in building our usefulness to the academic community by providing lesson plans and other material to be used in the classroom. In addition to the call for CSR communication research, we are looking for excellent ideas for teaching modules on ethics in public relations or journalism. They should be designed for undergraduates but also have value for professionals. Awards of up to $2,500 are provided for completed modules.

Feel free to email me with questions about the call at dsb177@psu.edu. Or, see my blog which has the text of the CSR call. For specific questions on the teaching modules, contact Marie Hardin at mch208@psu.edu or 814-865-1395.

Denise Sevick Bortree, Ph.D., is a Page Legacy Scholar and Senior Research Fellow with the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication. Dr. Bortree is also an Assistant Professor in the College of Communications at Penn State University.

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