Every action has an impact, such as every company has the power to consciously evaluate and adjust its impact. That is what your audience expects and why Communications Campaigns, including CSR campaigns, hold so much value. And while business purpose is undoubtedly an important decision-making factor, is it the only one that matters? When creating Communication Campaigns, does the individual authority of Managers help to shape the message?
An exploratory study on CSR Campaigns
CSR and the personal values of managers
Every decision reflects our core values, beliefs or needs. Such as your CSR Campaigns reflect the alignment between your company’s purpose and the value it plans to offer. And while you design your message as a brand-to-audience one, there is still one authority that influences its essence. The CSR Manager in charge of the projects certainly disposes of a specific set of values. And their daily work and decision-making processes most likely mirror these said values. But in which proportion do individual authority and personal values count?
This question was the one that shaped our research as we continued to delve into the problem. We studied the related literature and it validated our expectations. CSR Campaigns could not function without a clear view of what society and the corporate environment should look like. And while it’s part of the CSR Manager’s job to convey this view into a promise to the audience, there is still an organizational authority that holds the final verdict. The self-interest and personal values of the managers who coordinate them still influence the CSR Campaigns, regarding the external factors.
What is the ratio between organizational authority and individual authority?
For the purposes of this research, a semi-structured interview was conducted on 10 CSR managers in the top 100 companies in Romania by turnover according to the latest ratings published by the Financial Newspaper in 2014. Random sampling was applied, each tenth company in the list being chosen. The research method was chosen in accordance with the research objectives and with literature, considering many exploratory studies are conducted through qualitative methods (Crisan et al., 2011; Kassel, 2012). Interviews are exploratory and help us determine whether there is an influence of personal values in making decisions on CSR campaigns.
We found out that the CSR Manager can indeed influence judgments on the campaigns they coordinate. Furthermore, the CSR manager’s decisional power largely overcomes company authority as long as the decisions do not involve large budgets and changes in corporate strategy.
What is interesting is that CSR-related decisions develop from the bottom up and not vice versa. This means that the first step in creating a CSR Campaign is to listen to the stakeholders’ opinions and needs. Only when their dialogues are taken into consideration, the CSR department can start operating.
How are the organizational and individual authorities connected?
There is a strong link between CSR Campaigns and the company’s business strategy. And this link applies for every one of the companies involved in our research. That is why the CSR Managers choose their reasons for social engagement and the criteria of their CSR Campaigns in alignment with overall business factors.
The reason for that is that even though these campaigns do not provide immediate results for the business, their effects are visible in the long term. Moreover, when decisions are complex, the involvement of top management or other departments is inevitable. But even when they require only the CSR departments’ judgement, CSR campaigns are still a collective business effort.
Do personal values influence the engagement in the CSR campaigns?
As responsibility becomes less corporate and more individual, CSR Managers need to ask themselves what drives their involvement. For many of them, personal values coincide with the values of the company where they work. It is easier to create a message when speaking authentically. CSR Managers enjoy being part of work assignments that cater to their personal beliefs.
Most cases are successful because, largely, the surveyed managers said they are passionate about what they do. The campaigns they coordinate highlight unequivocally the CSR Managers’ values. Only one manager said there were projects that he wanted to implement, but was not able to, while another said that when coming to work he acts according to the company’s beliefs, not his own.
Do the campaigns’ messages reflect the CSR managers’ values?
While personal values influence the involvement, we could not help but wonder if they reflect in the messages, as well. And the answer was positive. In most cases, the campaign messages also include the personal beliefs of the coordinators. Although one of them said that the message belongs to the company, not to the manager, it is still an individual case.
Driving sustainable business models
One of the surveyed managers raised an interesting topic on sustainable business models when giving an explanation for the link between CSR Campaigns and the overall business strategy. The reason for our intensive interest is that it resonates with DMBC’s core beliefs, to achieve business objectives through the power of valuable communication.
It is in the interest of companies to submit to creating CSR Campaigns. But in order to be effective, the message must be authentic. It must reflect the company’s pure intention to drift away from sales-driven objectives and focus instead on nurturing its audience. The receptors of your message can sense when your communication is insincere, thus making the Campaign futile. Your company’s goal is to design a business model emerging from purpose, as recommended by Deloitte Insights’ 2022 Global Marketing Trends. This way you will also succeed in attracting employees with the same values, that can represent your company best.
The CSR Managers’ personal values almost inevitably shape both the communication and their perception of the company in which they work. Organizational authority, although unavoidable, does not surpass the individual authority of the Manager, unless the campaigns imply considerable budgets or changes to the business strategy. The ratio is favourable to the CSR Manager because it represents the much-needed human interface of the company. It is in its power and responsibility to understand stakeholders’ needs and to define the message by a purpose.