Citation
Role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Surviving a Crisis

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Title:
Role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Surviving a Crisis A Comparative Analysis
Creator:
Spoliansky, Jenine
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
Florida
Publisher:
University of Florida
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Language:
english
Physical Description:
1 online resource (82 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( M.A.M.C.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Mass Communication
Journalism and Communications
Committee Chair:
Mitrook, Michael A.
Committee Members:
Molleda, Juan Carlos
Kiousis, Spiro K.
Graduation Date:
8/9/2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Business structures ( jstor )
Corporate social responsibility ( jstor )
Corporations ( jstor )
Journalism ( jstor )
News content ( jstor )
News media ( jstor )
Newspapers ( jstor )
Public relations ( jstor )
Social responsibility ( jstor )
Sustainable development ( jstor )
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.

Notes

Abstract:
This study conducted a comparative analysis of both Exxon and BP's media coverage during a crisis to determine how favorably each company was portrayed. Generally, research has shown the better a reputation an organization has prior to a crisis, the more sympathetic the media are toward the company in terms of coverage. Using a quantitative content analysis of 211 newspaper articles over the period of one year, the tone of media coverage, CSR portrayal, news sources and media frames were analyzed. The study found that although the coverage of BP became more positive earlier in the crisis, there was no identifiable pattern that the tone of media coverage in a crisis changes over time. The study also found that the media predominantly used primary news frames, such as health, human interest, the economy and the environment. Furthermore, it was found that the media relied mainly on internal and government sources. Finally, both Exxon and BP were equally portrayed as being both socially responsible and irresponsible, leading to the conclusion that there was no significant difference in the amount of favorable media coverage a socially responsible company received during a crisis. ( en )
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local:
Adviser: Mitrook, Michael A.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Jenine Spoliansky.

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UFRGP
Rights Management:
Copyright Spoliansky, Jenine. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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involvement. Thinking about CSR, it is important for businesses to pay attention not only to

profits, but also to its reputation. In order to create a good reputation or uphold an existing one,

corporations must be able to address societal needs and generate media attention about the good

it is doing. But can being socially responsible help organizations avert crisis situations and/or

recover quicker from such situations?

Disaster relief, or as it is more often called, crisis communication, is the focus of this

study, as it may play an enormous role in reputation management. Crisis situations are defined

as "a combination of assessments of the crisis type and modifiers (assessments of performance

history and crisis severity)" (Coombs, 2006, p. 183). In terms of this study, corporate crisis took

on the meaning of "an unexpected, nonroutine event that creates uncertainty and threatens an

organization's priority goals" (Dean, 2004, p. 192). Crisis management is of extreme value to an

organization, and it is the public relations practitioner's role to manage an organization in a time

of crisis. Research has shown that, in general, a practitioner's job during a crisis is easier when

an organization is socially responsible and that pre-crisis CSR has profound implications for

crisis-stricken organizations (Ulmer, 2001).

The goal of this study was to conduct a comparative content analysis between Exxon and

BP with respect to how favorably and quickly they can recover from an organizational crisis.

Generally, research has shown the better reputation an organization has prior to a crisis, the more

sympathetic the media are toward the company in terms of coverage (Simokos & Kurzbard,

1994; Pearson & Clair, 1998; Ulmer, 2001; Klein & Dawar, 2004). Ultimately, this enables the

company exhibiting CSR to gain community activist support from the favorable projections of

the media, thus resolving the crisis more expediently. The press has often been described as the

fourth estate to the government. It is no surprise then, that social responsibility theory states that









lead people to be cynical about CSR efforts, "a company cannot pursue sustainable

environmental and social initiatives without being sustainable economically" (p. 44).

Furthermore, Fox (2007) argued that the business case for CSR must be made in order for

corporations to take it seriously. According to Lipman (2006), corporations need to stop viewing

social responsibility activities as disconnected from the overall business strategy. "Instead,

companies should be trying to identify the ways in which social issues intersect with their

businesses, and figure out responses that are beneficial to both society and the corporation"

(Lipman, 2006, 15). In fact, a new study conducted by Cone, called the Cause Evolution Survey,

found that 90% of consumers believe that the nature of a company's CSR programs should be in

line with its own business practices (PRWeek US, 2007).

Although practitioners may face some challenges when establishing and/or maintaining

some sort of level or CSR, Kotler and Lee (2005) offered four suggestions: choose a social cause

that supports business goals; select an initiative to address the issue or issues that will give

visibility to the company; without looking hypocritical, develop and implement program plans

that do enough good for the cause to justify the expense, and have an exit strategy; and

continuously evaluate and measure outcomes of both marketing activities and financial

investments.

To make the business case and tie the whole package together, CSR efforts and initiatives

need to be integrated within the corporate philosophy and other key functions of the company.

Public relations practitioners have realized that if a company's CSR strategies are going to

succeed, then the whole business must understand CSR, not just one department (Czerny, 2004).

The WBCSD (1999) pointed out the following:









have a strong and direct impact on consumers' attributions, which in turn translate into blame for

the incident that consequently influences brand evaluations and purchase intentions" (p. 215).

But, the study also found that this impact is evident only for consumers who report that CSR is

important in making their decisions (Klein & Dawar, 2004). The study concluded that "CSR is

like an insurance policy that is there when you need it," because although it may not be enough

to avert a crisis, it can be "instrumental in reducing the risk of damage to brand evaluations in the

event of calamity" (Klein & Dawar, 2004, p. 215). It is clear from this study that negative CSR

is a power liability and has a greater impact on an organization's reputation in a crisis situation

than positive CSR. This study is proof of how CSR can save organizations money, resources,

time, reputation deterioration and a big headache in times of crisis.

Shrivastava (1995) examined how not accepting broad corporate social responsibilities can

impact an organization in a crisis situation. Using the example of Union Carbide's response to

the Bhopal crisis, his study concluded that an organization that does not fulfill its responsibilities

in terms of ecocentric management, sustainable development, and crisis prevention and

management will not be able to survive without doing so (Shrivastava, 1995). In the case of

Union Carbide, the author pointed out that not accepting broad corporate social responsibilities

has resulted in constant debilitation of the company in the 10 years since the accident

(Shrivastava, 1995). In general, Shrivastava (1995) asserted that corporations must learn that

being socially responsible is not only ethical, but of significance to long-term survival.

Specifically, Shrivastava (1995) stated the following:

It is in the self-interest of companies to broadly conceptualize their responsibilities on
safety, health, and environmental issues and fulfill them vigorously. By doing so, they
are likely to act with more caution and more concern for human and environmental
impacts of their activities. This caution and concern can reduce their crisis chances. (p.
225)









section of the newspaper with no more than a sentence about the crisis. Six additional articles

that were editorials were removed since the researcher intended to obtain true news story counts.

News coverage of BP was limited in comparison to Exxon because of the selected time frame

and publications. Therefore, being relatively recent, BP's coverage was not as extensive as that

of Exxon's.

Analyzed Dimensions

National coverage of both events was subjected to identical content analyses. The study

was not limited to an examination of crisis media coverage; it attempted to provide broad data on

media coverage. The stories were analyzed on several dimensions that were quantitative in

nature. These dimensions included the date of the article, location of the article in the

newspaper, the number of words in each article, frequency of emotive language, news frames,

news sources, first source cited, first source quotes and the overall tone of each article. These

classifications served the purpose of illustrating how much time and emphasis the media placed

on each crisis. Because it was highly unlikely that an article would unequivocally state that an

organization is or is not socially responsible, analyzing emotive language served the purpose of

cueing into contextual clues that are important in categorizing a company as being socially

responsible or not. News frames were classified as primary if the article referred to health,

human interest, economic, environmental, legal, attribution of responsibility or denial, or

secondary if the article referred to any other news frames. News sources were classified as

corporate if the article attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from an organizational member;

government if the article attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from a government official;

other if the article attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from anyone other than an

organizational member or government official; corporate and government if the article attributed

a quote or paraphrased a quote from both an organizational member and a government official;









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To my parents, for your unconditional love and support; and to Dr. Mitrook, for your unwavering
encouragement and help.









49.4% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 35.6% (n=45) of the BP articles. An "other"

source was cited first in 33.7% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 15.6% (n=45) of the

BP articles. There was no source cited in 0.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, while to 2.2%

(n=45) of the BP articles cited no source.

In terms of source quotes, 16.3% (n=166) of the Exxon articles quoted a corporate source

first, while 42.2% (n=45) of the BP articles quoted a corporate source first. Government sources

were quoted first in 49.4% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 28.9% (n=45) of the BP

articles. An "other" source was quoted first in 28.3% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to

22.2% (n=45) of the BP articles. Finally, 6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles quoted no source

first, compared to 6.7% (n=45) of the BP articles.









& Molleda, 2006). This is important to the field of public relations because practitioners "can

plan strategies and create messages targeting specific media outlets to emphasize those traits that

are likely to result in a better image" (Kiousis et al., 2007, p. 162). Regardless of who is trying

to set the agenda, the facts remains that this theory is useful when attempting to shape reality in a

way that influences public perceptions and attitudes.

Events and Pre-Crisis Status

Irresponsible Corporation: Exxon

On March 24, 1989, carrying 1.26 million barrels or 53 million gallons of oil on it, the

Exxon Valdez oil tanker entered the Prince William Sound on Alaska's southern coast on its way

to California and hit the Bligh Reef, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil. At the

time of the collision, the third mate, who was not certified to take the tanker into those waters,

was steering the vessel. The spillage spread for 12 square miles in a region that was habitat for

salmon, sea otters, seals, sea birds and the great white shark. Reports later claimed that the

collision occurred because the Captain and many of the crew had been drinking alcohol onboard.

Exxon was criticized for its employees' reckless behavior, doing too little too late, not

communicating openly and effectively, lack of leadership and their indifference to environmental

destruction, to name a few. The legal implications of this crisis are still lingering.

A direct descendant of Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, ExxonMobil was formed in

1999 by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Today, using "Taking on the world's toughest energy"

as its tagline, ExxonMobil is the world's largest company by both revenue and market

capitalization. ExxonMobil markets products worldwide under the brands of Exxon, Mobil and

Esso. Prior to the 1989 Valdez oil spill, Exxon had been criticized for its business practices and

environmental record. In fact, before ExxonMobil came into being, the U.S. Supreme Court

convicted the Standard Oil Company of running a monopoly in 1911 and ordered that it be









The fifth research question addressed the issue of news sources. News sources were

analyzed in general by investigating which news sources, if any, were included in each article.

Additionally, the first source cited and first source quoted were also evaluated. A descriptive

reporting of means found that 3% (n=166) of the Exxon articles contained only corporate news

sources, while just 8.9% (n=45) of the BP articles contained only corporate news sources.

Corporate news sources included both companies' CEO, spokespersons, employees and the like.

Government news sources were used in 9.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 2.2%

(n=45) of the BP articles. Government news sources included state governors and mayors,

district attorneys, governmental agencies (state and federal), city council members, the U.S.

President, etc. "Other" news sources were used in 6.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, while

none of the BP articles included this source. "Other" news sources included environmental

groups with no government affiliation, contractors and suppliers, environmental lawyers, energy

and oil industry analysts, economists, trade associations, scientists, wildlife experts, other oil

companies, etc. Both corporate and government sources were used in 11.4% (n=166) of the

Exxon articles, compared to 28.9% (n=45) of the BP articles. Both corporate and "other" news

sources were included in 4.2% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 11.1% (n=45) of the

BP articles. Both government and "other" news sources were used in 24.1% (n=166) of the

Exxon articles, compared to 8.9% (n=45) of the BP articles. Precisely 40.4% (n=166) of the

Exxon articles included corporate, government and "other" news sources, compared to 37.8%

(n=45) of the BP articles. Finally, 0.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles included no news sources,

while 2.2% (n=45) of the BP articles had no news sources cited.

A corporate source was cited first in 16.3% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, while 46.7%

(n=45) of the BP articles cited a corporate source first. A government source was cited first in









voluntary principles on security and human rights and has developed partnerships with

environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation.

Data Collection

The researcher employed an online search of the database LexisNexis Academic. Using

the search term ExxonMobil Valdez with the following parameters, major U.S. and world

newspaper publications within the last 20 years, a total of 919 newspaper articles emerged. Of

those, 212 were from The New York Times, 146 from The Washington Post and 52 from USA

Today. Using the search terms BP oil spill and BP Prudhoe Bay with the following parameters,

major U.S. and world newspaper publications within the last two years, a total of 826 and 792

newspaper articles were retrieved, respectively. Correspondingly, 32 and 18 of those articles

were from The New York Times, 15 and 17 were from The Washington Post and 11 and 9 were

from USA Today.

Sampling Units

National print coverage of both events was studied. National coverage involved a content

analysis of the Exxon Valdez oil spill as well as the BP Prudhoe Bay oil leak coverage of The

New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today. Founded in 1851, The New York Times

is the largest metropolitan newspaper in the United States with a daily circulation of more than

1.1 million and is distributed internationally on a daily basis. With its famous motto always

printed in the upper left-hand corer of the front page, "All the News That's Fit to Print," the The

New York Times is owned by The New York Times Company and is published in New York

City. Its daily editions have three major sections: news, opinion and features. The Washington

Post, founded in 1877, is the largest newspaper in Washington, D.C. and has a daily circulation

of almost 700,000. Owned by the Washington Post Company, The Washington Post is regarded

among the leading daily American newspapers and has distinguished itself through its reporting









and readily available source, BP's public relations practitioners had a higher chance of getting

their messages to the media (Zoch & Molleda, 2006). By providing the media with information

subsidies, BP's public relations practitioners may have played a role in framing the crisis

narrative (Zoch & Molleda, 2006). In this way, BP was able to both frame the crisis and set the

media agenda. As Burns (1998) found, being credible and having a solid reputation may impact

whether or not an organization's information subsidy is used by the media. From this study, it

seems possible that corporate sources from BP may have been used predominantly because of

the company's credibility and reliability or because of its relationship with the media. Having a

good relationship with the media is vital since it is a window the organization speaks through to

reach its publics. Perhaps BP had a better relationship with the media pre-crisis than Exxon.

These pre-established relationships may have been the reason why the media relied heavily on

corporate sources. Perhaps this good relationship led the media to believe that BP was credible,

legitimate, consistent, accurate, open and honest about the crisis and its part in it. By being open

and transparent with its stakeholder groups, BP provided a wealth of information that was easily

accessible by the media.

Implications

The concept of CSR post dates the Exxon Valdez crisis. Only recently has CSR been

incorporated into business goals and strategies. Perhaps Exxon did not recognize the importance

of contributing to sustainable development as BP may have recognized almost 20 years later.

Either way, BP's status as a socially responsible corporation played no role in its media coverage

during the crisis. Although BP may have been more proactive in its crisis response because it

learned from the mistakes of oil companies like Exxon, this was not reflected in this study.

Regardless, Exxon's crisis had a significantly greater environmental and economical impact than

BP's. Exxon also faced a greater amount of litigation than BP. Despite this, there was no









There was considerably less media coverage for the BP crisis than the Exxon crisis. Perhaps this

was due to the greater ecological and economical damage that the Exxon crisis caused. Another

possible explanation could be attributed to other factors going on in the world at the time of each

crisis. Because of the wide scope of articles available in the media, it was impossible, given the

time and resources allotted, to conduct a census of all articles. A broader media picture looking

at a greater number of newspapers or even including television coverage may have been more

effective. The limited time frame of one year was also a drawback of this study. Limiting the

time frame to one year did not allow for a balanced amount of articles. The Exxon crisis and BP

crisis happened almost 20 years apart, and the public relations landscape has changed since the

late 1980s when the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred. Perhaps the underestimated significance of

the public relations function partially contributed to the severity of the Exxon crisis. CSR is a

newer concept in the corporate world and has recently emerged as an important part of business

activities. Given the lack of development of the idea of CSR during the time frame of the Exxon

crisis, it is possible that this may have had an impact on the analysis of media coverage.

Suggestions for Future Research

It is hoped that this thesis will shed some light on the importance of CSR efforts as they

pertain to overall organizational goals. However, in this specific circumstance, CSR efforts did

not seem to have an impact. Crises potentially have the power to put an organization out of

business, and well-executed CSR programs may have the potential to mitigate this effect.

However, this conclusion was not supported in this study. Future studies should look at crises

that occur within a similar time frame and/or crises that have equal environmental or ecological

impact. Perhaps doing a qualitative analysis would add more value to the research because

content would be taken in to account rather than counting the frequency of words. The concept

of CSR is still evolving, so the manner in which the media covers it will also evolve over time.









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I thank my parents for being the inspiring people they are and for all of their hard work and

sacrifices. I thank my supervisory committee members, Dr. Kiousis and Dr. Molleda, for their

assistance and direction. I give special thanks to my wonderful supervisory committee chair, Dr.

Mitrook, for guiding me and putting up with me. Finally, I thank all of my professors for

helping me along my journey.









CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

The purpose of this study was to analyze media coverage of two oil companies in crisis,

looking specifically at how favorably each company was portrayed throughout the crisis, as well

as to evaluate news frames and news sources. It is important to note that Zipfs Law states that

the frequency of the words that appear in a document reflects the importance of the concepts that

those words represent. Going into the study, qualitative text analysis was weighed against

quantitative text analysis, and equivocating between the two, it was decided that quantitative text

analysis best served the purposes of this project with few limitations. To account for the

possibility of cross-category confusion, every effort was made to only include words in each

category that were exclusive to that specific category. Despite this modification, it was

understood that there was a possibility for cross-category confusion. For example, the category

anti-CSR included the term "irresponsible" which is exclusive to that category. On the other

hand, the pro-CSR category included words such as "responsible," which was not exclusive to

that category. It was possible that in context, the word "responsible" may have been a

component of the phrase "not responsible," which has an anti-CSR connection. This anomaly

was understood and seen as unavoidable, as the topic of this paper is corporate social

responsibility. Regardless of this anomaly, Zipfs law states that mentioning concept-oriented

words such as "responsible" reflects on the importance of the overarching theme of this paper.

Additionally, mixed-CSR results were possible due to the anomaly stated above.

The first research question for the study sought to determine whether companies that are

considered socially responsible receive more favorable media coverage during a crisis situation.

A higher percentage of BP articles had a more positive tone than Exxon articles, but ultimately, it

was not a statistically significant difference.









p. 199). Content analysis includes at least the following seven steps: formulate the hypothesis or

research questions, select the sample, define the categories, outline the coding process and train

coders, implement the coding process, determine the reliability and validity of the study and

analyze the results (Kaid & Wadsworth, 1989). Keeping in line with content analysis, Zipf s law

assumes that words and phrases used most often in communication reflect important concerns in

every communication (Zipf, 2008). "Therefore, quantitative content analysis starts with word

frequencies, space measurements (column centimeters/inches in the case of newspapers), time

counts (for radio and television time) and keyword frequencies" (Zipf, 2008, 14).

The research was based on framing theory and agenda-setting theory. Framing theory

asserts that the way in which a message is presented to a person will influence the choices he or

she makes. Central to second-level agenda-setting is agenda-framing, which "is the selection of

a restricted number of thematically related attributes on the media agenda when a particular

object is discussed" (McCombs, 1997, p. 6). The process of framing is the way in which "a

communication source, such as a news organization, defines and constructs a political issue or

public controversy" (Nelson et al., 1997, p. 221). There are two types of frames: natural and

social (Goffman, 1974). Whereas natural frames occur organically, social frames are created

deliberately by public relations practitioners and the media to present information in a certain

way (Goffman, 1974). Therefore, "framing is critical to the construction of social reality-the

way people view the world" (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 282). Since both the media and public

relations practitioners engage in framing events and messages, framing can be seen as a "strategy

of constructing and processing news discourse or as a characteristic of the discourse itself' (Pan

& Kosicki, 1993, p. 57). Additionally, sources chosen by the media can provide further detail to

a framework already in place (Kosicki & Pan, 1996, as cited in Zoch & Molleda, 2006). By









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corporate and other if the article attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from both an

organizational member and another source; government and other if the article attributed a quote

or paraphrased a quote from both a government official and another source; all of the above; or

none of the above. Additionally, the first source cited in each article as well as the first source

quoted in each article was classified as corporate, government, other or none.

Most central to this discussion, the negative, neutral or positive media coverage of each

company in a crisis was also noted. In all of the articles, any reference to the following specific

behaviors was listed: 1) apology, 2) accountability, 3) responsibility, 4) clean-up, 5) assistance,

6) goodwill, 7) blame, 8) denial, 9) appeal, 10) refusal, 11) irresponsibility, 12) contradiction,

etc. An individual story could discuss none, one, or more of these issues. In addition, the nature

of the discussion was analyzed. Each reference to the above behavior was classified as being

anti-CSR if it reinforced the company's lack of CSR efforts prior to and during the crisis,

pro-CSR if it reinforced the company's CSR efforts prior to and during the crisis, mixed-CSR if

it equally reinforced both the company's CSR efforts and lack thereof or neutral.

Coding was conducted by a team of two graduate students. The students met several

times with each other and with the principle investigator to discuss the coding process and to

familiarize themselves with both the code book and code sheet. Using Holsti's formula, a

subsample of the material, 10%, was used to measure inter-coder reliability. The degree of

agreement ranged from a high of 100% for the most easily quantified material, such as date of

the article, location of the article in the newspaper, word count, news sources, first source cited

and first source quoted to a low of 90.48% for the frequency of emotive language, news frames

and overall article tone. After a discussion of the items that the coders did not agree on, the









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Jenine Spoliansky grew up in South Florida and attended the University of Florida where

she received her Bachelor of Science in public relations in 2006. She continued her education

pursuing a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of Florida, specializing

in public relations. Upon graduation in May 2008, Jenine hopes to use her degrees to contribute

to the enrichment of people's lives.









separated into 34 unrelated companies. Besides being aggressively accused of contributing to

global warming by the burning of fossil fuels, Exxon has also been attacked for donating

millions of dollars to advocacy organizations which dispute the impact of global warming.

These seemingly unethical practices are not the only ones on Exxon's docket of activities. There

has also been a presumed connection between OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting

Countries) and Exxon. Three-quarters of OPEC members are based in the Middle East. Keeping

in mind that Exxon has always had a large percentage of its oil-producing territories in the

Middle East as well, it is clear that Exxon had a close relationship to OPEC. When OPEC placed

a six-month embargo on oil shipments to the U.S. in 1973 with the motive to boost sales and

profits at all the major oil companies that operate in the U.S., Exxon came under suspicion. The

company's sales and profits hit record highs during the oil crisis of the 1970s, and as a result,

faced new criticisms regarding the way it conducted business.

Exxon, in response to the Valdez incident, states on its Web site that "the Valdez oil spill

was a tragic accident that Exxon deeply regrets. The company took immediate responsibility for

the spill, cleaned it up and voluntarily compensated those who claimed direct damages"

(ExxonMobil, 2008, 132). However, almost 25 years later, Exxon's case in the Supreme Court is

still pending litigation. Among the directly affected by the spill were thousands of fisherman,

businesses and nearby communities. Although the company claims to have compensated those

impacted by the spill, it is still appealing a $2.5 billion USD punitive ruling and has not yet paid

any damages besides cleanup costs (Sherman, 2007). Despite criticism of its business practices,

environmental record and human rights violations, Exxon claims to have contributed to

educational, health, welfare and community service programs. Prior to the 1989 Valdez oil spill,

Exxon opened an environmental health research site in New Jersey in 1980 to "further assure the










LIST OF TABLES


Table


B -1 C o d e S h eet ............................................................................. 7 4


page









coding process and content categories were refined. In addition, all of the coding of the content

was in a form that allowed for statistical analysis.

Data Analysis Strategy

Diction 5.0 and human researchers were used to code and analyze the data for the study.

Diction is a windows-based text analysis program that scientifically codes text-based messages

using an unlimited number of words. The program analyzes these messages and produces

numeric files that can later be easily used for statistical analysis. Diction is a flexible text

analysis program that allows the researcher to dictate which words are of primary importance to

the research. In this way, the researcher was able to create a custom dictionary to restrict the

program's analysis to only words chosen by the researcher. After the data was complied into

reports, it was uploaded to SPSS. SPSS 15.0 was used to conduct the statistical analysis

comparing the media coverage of each crisis.









reputation, response to a crisis and responsibility for a crisis (Dean, 2004). Dean's (2004) study

concluded that responsibility for a crisis situation had the greatest impact on an organization's

reputation, but that a good reputation for social responsibility "may be a double-edged sword" (p.

208).

In other words, although a good reputation may generate goodwill for the company in

times of crisis, it may also punish them for inappropriate responses more so than a company with

a bad reputation for social responsibility (Dean, 2004). This is most likely because consumers

have higher expectations for socially responsible companies. The study also pointed out that

"loyal customers are believed to have a greater motivation to actively evaluate negative

information, generating counterarguments to negative publicity, and rejecting information that

runs counter to their positive opinion of the company" (Dean, 2004, p. 209). Therefore, it is

beneficial for an organization to engage in CSR so that customers become as loyal as possible,

leading to a greater support system in times of crisis.

Whether or not the media chooses to cover corporations that verbalize its CSR efforts,

"public trust or distrust of business is fueled by an accumulation of media reports about

responsible, or more often these days, irresponsible corporate behavior" (Valentino, 2007, 16).

When CSR has an impact on society, whether it is positive or it causes a crisis, it can be argued

that the media have a duty to society to report on that impact. However, as Hamilton (2003)

found, there are likely markets for CSR stories, but there is low quantity and quality of CSR

reporting. Perhaps this is because the topic of CSR, beyond charitable donations, is new to

journalists. Whether because they do not yet realize the importance of CSR, or because the

concept is relatively new, it seems that journalists have only a superficial understanding of CSR.

What makes it even more difficult is that many CSR efforts are aimed at long-term effects, and









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A CK N O W LED G M EN T S ................................................................. ........... ............. .....

LIST OF TABLES ............ ........... ......... ........7.....

LIST OF FIGURES .................................. .. ..... ..... ................. .8

A B S T R A C T ......... ....................... .................. .......................... ................ .. 9

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............... .............................. ............................. 10

2 L IT E R A T U R E R E V IE W ............................................................................. .....................15

History and Theories of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)............................... ....15
Role of Media in Portraying CSR Efforts and Crisis Situations ................. ............. .....23
Crisis Communication and Management.............................. ............................ 30
Public Relations Practitioner's Role in CSR and Crisis Situations......................................32
L ink betw een C SR and C rises ..................................................................... .....................38

3 METHODOLOGY .............................. ...................... ........42

M eth o d ................. ............................................................................... .. 4 2
E vents and P re-C crisis Status ............................................................................ ............ 45
Irresponsible Corporation: Exxon ..........................................................................45
R responsible C corporation: B P ................................................ .............................. 48
D ata C o lle ctio n ................................................................................................................. 5 0
S a m p lin g U n its ................................................................................................................. 5 0
S am pling F ram e ................................................................................ 5 1
A n aly zed D im en sio n s .............................................................................................................52
D ata A n aly sis S trateg y ...........................................................................................................54

4 R E SU L T S .............. ... ................................................................55

5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ................................................60

Im p licatio n s .........................................................................6 7
L im stations ......................................................................................................... ............ 69
Suggestions for Future Research ................................................ ............... 70









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication

ROLE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) IN SURVIVING A CRISIS: A
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

By

Jenine Y. Spoliansky

August 2008

Chair: Michael Mitrook
Major: Mass Communication

We conducted a comparative content analysis of both Exxon and BP's media coverage

during a crisis to determine how favorably each company was portrayed. Generally, research has

shown the better a reputation an organization has prior to a crisis, the more sympathetic the

media are toward the company in terms of coverage. Using a quantitative content analysis of

211 newspaper articles over the period of one year, the tone of media coverage, CSR portrayal,

news sources and media frames were analyzed. We found that although the coverage of BP

became more positive earlier in the crisis, there was no identifiable pattern that the tone of media

coverage in a crisis changes over time.

We also found that the media predominantly used primary news frames, such as health,

human interest, the economy and the environment. Furthermore, we found that the media relied

mainly on corporate and government sources. Finally, both Exxon and BP were equally

portrayed as being both socially responsible and irresponsible, leading to the conclusion that

there was no significant difference in the amount of favorable media coverage a socially

responsible company received during a crisis.









messages so that "the salience of elements on the news agenda influences their salience on the

public agenda" (Carroll & McCombs, 2003, p. 37).

Link between CSR and Crises

It is obvious that a good reputation can be an important factor in dealing successfully with

a crisis situation (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994). Specifically, "it has been shown that the crisis

effect on a well-known company with a positive image may be minimal" (Siomkos & Kurzbard,

1994, p. 31). Research has also shown that negative effects of a crisis may be alleviated by the

press when it reports that a company in crisis is acting socially responsible in an effort to

mitigate damage (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994). When handling a crisis, there are appropriate

actions of CSR that organizations must take to ensure that its reputation is not severely tarnished.

These actions include being first, being accurate, being comprehensive, being consistent, being

accessible, being transparent, being committed in the long haul, being credible, being

accountable and responsible, building partnerships, meeting stakeholder expectations and taking

corrective actions) (Lundgren & McMakin, 2004). However, companies must always act in

socially responsible ways, not just during or after a crisis arises. Therefore, it is worthwhile to

know whether or not the negative effects of a crisis can be alleviated by the press if it reports that

a company in crisis is always socially responsible.

For the purpose of this study, it is important to note the findings of Siomkos and

Kurzbard's (1994) product-harm crisis study. In this study, 384 people between the ages of 18

and 40 were randomly selected from the general population and randomly assigned to 16

treatment groups in order to examine company's reputation, external effects (regulatory

agencies, the press and interest groups) and company's response to a crisis in terms of the

consumer's perception of danger, future purchasing intention and whether or not the company

responded appropriately (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994). Specifically looking at company









Annual Report, 1988). Furthermore, Exxon rigorously recruited minorities and women through

summer jobs, co-op assignments and scholarships (Exxon Annual Report, 1988).

Responsible Corporation: BP

On March 2, 2006, a BP field worker smelled crude oil while driving through the Prudhoe

Bay in the tundra of Alaska's North Slope. Five days earlier, about 267,000 gallons of oil leaked

from a quarter-inch hole corroded in a 30-year-old BP pipeline. The dime-sized hole resulted in

nearly 5,000 barrels of crude oil spilt out across an area of two-acres, home to thousands of

migratory birds, caribou and other creatures. This spill led to the discovery that six miles of the

pipeline was badly corroded, and as a result, much of the Prudhoe Bay was shut down. Reports

later claimed that a leak detection alarm went off four times during the week before the spill was

discovered, but that BP had interpreted the leak detections as false alarms. BP was criticized for

using old pipes, failing to ensure the proper safety and maintenance of its pipes, cost-cutting and

failure to invest in the plant. BP publicly accepted both legal and financial responsibility for the

spill.

In 1998, British Petroleum merged with Amoco, becoming BP, using the tagline "Beyond

Petroleum." Before the oil leak in the Prudhoe Bay, BP had been criticized for an explosion at

one of its Texas City refineries that killed 15 people and injured over 100 in 2005. In 2003 and

2004, government regulators accused BP of artificially driving up the prices of propane. Despite

these incidents and criticisms, BP has been praised for being one of the first major energy

companies to not only acknowledge the global threat posed by climate change, but to vow to

share in the responsibility of doing something about it. In addition, in 2005, BP voluntarily set

aside $700 million in compensation for the Texas City incident. BP prides itself in the areas of

health and safety, continuous improvement, human capability, and environmentally sound

operations.









risks than companies that are not socially responsible (Business the Beneficent, 2006). Some

critics have even gone as far as calling CSR corporate public relations or regulation-dodging

(Burton, 2007). Although many believe that CSR is being used to avoid negative publicity and

government regulations, others believe that it is being used as a strategic tool in protecting

human rights and the environment (Burton, 2007). "While it is arguable whether or not CSR

practices actually add to the company's long-term gain, it is clear that it does generate goodwill"

(Asongu, 2007, p. 6).

Goodwill, a result of CSR practices, is imperative to the survival of an organization in a

time of crisis, particularly since "corporations must meet the demands placed on them by society

in order to survive in this hostile business environment" (Fuchs-Burnett, 2002, p. 34). Creating

goodwill for an organization can sometimes be challenging, especially when the organization is

being criticized for things such as damaging the environment, trampling human rights or not

supporting social causes. Pava and Krausz's (1997) study evaluated the legitimacy of corporate

projects for institutionalizing social responsibility. They concluded that social responsibility

projects are ideal in four distinct cases, one being when an organization is directly responsible

for causing some kind of harm (Pava & Krausz, 1997). Since this is usually the case with

businesses, it seems obvious that social responsibility projects are ideal for all organizations.

Organizations "have been found to engage in socially responsible behaviors not only to fulfill

external obligations such as regulatory compliance and stakeholder demands, but also due to

enlightened-self-interest considerations such as increased competitiveness and improved stock

market performance" (Klein & Dawar, 2004, p. 203).

In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2007

Corporate Social Responsibility: A Pilot Study, human resources (HR) professionals were









ethical. Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the "values relating to human conduct,

with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of

the motives and ends of such actions" (Dictionary, 2008, 14). Although most classical theories

of ethics such as utilitarianism and deontology use different approaches, it is essential to keep in

mind that they are all value-driven. Therefore, taking that into account, what a corporation

considers ethical can change based on things such as corporate philosophy, goals, objectives

and/or strategy.

Although many theories about CSR exist, Wood (1991) argued that only advances toward

a theory of CSR have been made (Pratt, 2003). Social responsibility practices can be identified

by looking at four traditional arguments made for CSR: "moral (or ethical), reputation (or brand

image), license to operate (or legal), and sustainability" (Asongu, 2007, p. 5). Although these

categories are not absolute, they do "capture the essence of most mainstream CSR practices and

seem to be most relevant for public relations practice" (David et al., 2005, p. 294). Some believe

that corporations should be focused on the economic concept of supply and demand and that the

government should act as a protector, creating regulations that safeguard citizens, society and the

environment (Asongu, 2007). For example, Friedman (1962) insisted "that in a democratic

society, government was the only legitimate vehicle for addressing social concerns" (Asongu,

2007, p. 13). Others believe that businesses have a moral duty to contribute to sustainable

development, which "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future

generations to meet its own needs" (Esler, 2007, p. 4).

A company's level of CSR will depend on its size, level of diversification, research and

development, advertising, government sales, consumer income labor market conditions and stage

in the industry life cycle (McWilliams, 2001). From these hypotheses, McWilliams (2001) was









may not be true in other countries (Scott, 2003). The study reported that coverage of CSR in

print media in the United Kingdom rose 131% in 2001 compared to 2000, and coverage of CSR

in the United States fell by 40% over the same period (Scott, 2003). The study also showed that

in that same time period Germany saw an 8% increase in media coverage and France's media

coverage of CSR rose 125% (Scott, 2003). The report attributed "the lack of interest in CSR in

Germany to the country's existing regulatory controls" (Scott, 2003, p. 9). Scott (2003) went on

to say that "despite the drop in the level of coverage of CSR in the U.S., the report claims that

the existing coverage was more favorable than in the past" (p. 9).

Since getting positive media coverage on CSR efforts can be difficult, many corporations

voluntarily publish social responsibility reports and make them available to the public. The

problem with self-reporting is that "editors may simply suspect that corporate ethics is an

oxymoron and be reluctant to trust company claims about CSR" (Hamilton, 2003, p. 5).

Additionally, company-controlled communications are not as credible or influential as media

publicity is (Dean, 2004). Not all publicity is good, however. Negative publicity can damage an

organization's reputation, and it can particularly be harmful when trying to mitigate a crisis.

Unfortunately though, since the media have a preference for reporting negative news, companies

have a better chance of getting bad press rather than positive press (Dean, 2004).

Since the media essentially creates public discourse, and discourse itself constructs and

reflects crisis situations, the argument that media can have a great amount of control over how

organizations are portrayed in these situations is valid. In fact, Raboy and Dagenais (1994)

asserted that "deciding which social/political changes are labeled as 'crises' and structuring their

representation in the public sphere has become 'one of the essential functions of mass media'"

(1). For instance, Dean (2004) argued that the media influenced public perception of Johnson









CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

History and Theories of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Over thirty years ago, Votaw (1972) wrote the following:

Corporate social responsibility means something, but not always the same thing to
everybody. To some it conveys the idea of legal responsibility or liability, to others, it
means socially responsible behavior in the ethical sense; to still others, the meaning
transmitted is that of "responsible for" in a casual mode; many simply equate it with a
charitable contribution; some take it to mean socially conscious; many of those who
embrace it more fervently see it as a mere synonym for legitimacy in the context of
belonging or being proper or valid; few will see a sort of fiduciary duty imposing higher
standards of behavior on business men than on citizens at large. (p. 25)

While "CSR appears to be widely recognized and accepted... it is still more of an idea, a

vague concept, in the discourse stage being debated by academia, business and government in

different arenas and using various vocabularies" (Jonker & Marberg, 2007, p. 108). Although

CSR may mean different things to different people, Fiona Harvey, environmental correspondent

for the Financial Times, said the following:

CSR is a buzzword at the moment. Every company wants to talk about it but many do
not talk about it very well. My attention is only grabbed by concrete examples. Many
businesses think that merely complying with environmental regulations is CSR, when
they are only doing what they must by law. (PRWeek UK, 2005, p. 21)

Additionally, Zoellick (2007), President of the World Bank, stated the following about

the varying definitions of CSR:

[They] influence the dialogue between governments, private sector and civil society, and
this may carry different implications among various parties regarding the legitimacy,
obligations and impact of corporate social responsibility standards. For example, one has
to be careful in understanding and defining the term "CSR" because CSR is sometimes
mistakenly equated with either corporate philanthropy or simple compliance with law.
(p.1)

Although there are widely differing definitions of social responsibility, there are basic

tenets of a corporation's duty to the society or community it serves. Federal legislation, judicial

rulings and even the press of public opinion have all helped to form a consensus of what a










the press acts as a watchdog and advocate for public interest (Baran & Davis, 2003). Since the

media plays a large role in creating public discourse, the research analyzed newspaper articles

covering each company's crisis to see how the media portrayed each organization in its time of

crisis.









(Ulmer, 2001). Besides the fact that "stakeholders have a vested interest in the success of the

organization and may represent a network of support during crises," CSR can generate

"reservoirs of good will, alliances, and shared understanding" (Ulmer, 2001, 7).

Public Relations Practitioner's Role in CSR and Crisis Situations

Public relations practitioners must always act in the interest of both the organization and its

publics. Therefore, emphasizing the importance of social responsibility to the dominant coalition

is crucial to fulfilling practitioner duties. In one way, practitioners are serving the public by

minimizing social and environmental risks and contributing to sustainable development. In

another way, they are serving the organization by building trust and mutually beneficial

relationships between them and their publics, which will ultimately be useful and advantageous

in times of crisis. The mutual-gains approach offers six guidelines for dealing more effectively

with an angry public, such as "acknowledge the concerns of the other side, accept responsibility,

act in a trustworthy fashion at all times, and focus on building long-term relationships" (Susskind

& Field, 1996, pp. 37-38). The last two guidelines mentioned are particularly important because

they can be looked at as social responsibility efforts. CSR prior to a crisis, in this case acting

trustworthy and building relationships, can help an organization mitigate fault, repair a damaged

relationship, and demonstrate commitment to society both during and after a crisis

(Fuchs-Burnett, 2002). During a crisis, it is important for practitioners to handle the situation in

a socially responsible manner. This includes being early with information, being first with

information, being accurate about facts, being persistent with facts and being consistent

(Coombs, 1999).

While critics of CSR have argued that it is just talk, it does not contribute to a businesses'

bottom line and that CSR efforts are just in the self-interest of the organization, proponents have

argued that socially responsible companies have altruistic intentions and will face fewer business









APPENDIX B
CODE SHEET


Table B-1. Code Sheet
Variable Variable label
name
ID Identification Number
DATELINE Story Date
LOCATION Location of Article in Newspaper


COUNT


FEL


Word Count


Frequency of Emotive Language


Value labels


BP1-BP45; EX1-EX166
mm/dd/yyyy
1=Prominent
2=Less Prominent
3=Obscure
1 Short
2=Medium
3=Long
-1. Anti-CSR
a. Blame
b. Denial
c. Appeal
d. Refusal
e. Irresponsibility
f Mistake
g. Problem
h. Contradiction
i. Damage
j. Crisis
k. Emergency
1. Negative Image
m. Unethical
n. Risk
o. Negligible
p. Contamination
q. Violation
r. Dispute
s. Litigation
0. Neutral CSR
1. Pro-CSR
a. Apology
b. Accountability
c. Responsibility
d. Clean-up
e. Positive Image
f. Assistance
g. Goodwill
h. Transparency
i. Ethical
j. Agreement
k. Public Relations









livelihood was affected by the oil spills. These frames may reflect the growing notion that CSR

has become "part of the expected costs of doing business" (Hamilton, 2003, p. 5). Furthermore,

the findings supported Hamilton's (2003) study which found that general interest newspapers

focus more on CSR by using entertainment frames such as scandals, ethical issues and crises.

The final research question for the study sought to determine which sources the media

use predominantly during a crisis. The most individually cited source in the Exxon articles was

government sources, while the most individually cited source in the BP articles was corporate

sources. These findings are in line with the current trend in media coverage to consult primarily

government and corporate sources. The media consulted government sources more so than any

other individual source to get information about the Exxon crisis. Perhaps this was due to

Exxon's lack of credibility or untrustworthiness regarding information about the oil spill. Maybe

government sources were more valuable to the media since there was more government

involvement in the cleanup efforts and litigation for Exxon's spill than BP's. Or perhaps

reporters consulted government sources, as previously stated, since it is the current trend in

media coverage. Contrary to Exxon, the media consulted corporate sources more so than any

other individual source to get information about the BP crisis. These findings suggest that

perhaps the media considered BP a more credible and trustworthy organization than Exxon.

Since the crises occurred almost 20 years apart, it is possible that BP may have had a more

effective public relations operation or better trained spokespeople than Exxon. The use of both

corporate and government sources together was used more in BP articles than in Exxon articles.

This suggests a higher reliance on credible, authoritative sources. A dependence on what was

coded as "other" would have included a large number of unreliable sources. Despite indicating

that Exxon articles relied on government sources and BP articles relied on corporate sources,









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Dean, D.H. (2004). Consumer reaction to negative publicity: Effects of corporate reputation,
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Esler, B. (2007). Doing well by doing good goes right to the bottom line. Graphic Arts Monthly,
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Fuchs-Burnett, T. (2002). Mass public corporate apology. Dispute Resolution Journal, 57(2),
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Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hall, M.R. (2006). Corporate philanthropy and corporate community relations: Measuring
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Hamilton, J.T. (2003). Media coverage of corporate social responsibility. The Joan Shorenstein
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2008 Jenine Y. Spoliansky









ROLE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) IN SURVIVING A CRISIS: A
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS




















By

JENINE Y. SPOLIANSKY


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2008


























Date
--Seriesl


Figure 4-1 Tone of Exxon Media Coverage Over Time


Date
.4Serier l


Figure 4-2 Tone of BP Media Coverage Over Time









& Johnson's Tylenol tampering case during and after the crisis. He asserted that "media

coverage made it clear that Johnson & Johnson had no control over this post manufacture

product tampering, suppressing any Could counterfactuals" (Dean, 2004, p. 196). Perhaps this is

why Johnson & Johnson's sterling reputation was enough to get them through the crisis quickly

and unscathed. The company's positive CSR and good reputation allowed the media to portray it

as responsible business that had no control over the crisis.

Ulmer and Sellnow (2000) pointed to three important issues that arise in a corporate crisis:

the crisis threatens the organization's social legitimacy, evidence will be investigated to

determine the cause of the crisis and someone/something will be blamed. It is important to note

that "questions of evidence are often so complex that typical consumers are dependent on the

media to interpret the findings of the investigation for them so that their meaning may be

comprehended" (Dean, 2004, p. 193). This further shows how reliant consumers are on the

media to be able to come to their own conclusions and opinions about people, places or things.

Dean (2004) asserted that "each of these three issues suggests that corporate communication at

the time of crisis assumes strategic importance" (p. 194). Although this may be true, corporate

communication and action before a crisis may be just as important, or perhaps even more.

Dean's (2004) study was the first one of its kind to examine the following three factors,

which may affect one's reaction to bad press, together: a company's response to the crisis event,

the company's reputation for CSR before the crisis and the company's responsibility for the

actual crisis. The study pointed out that literature has already substantiated the first two factors

as being important in a time of crisis, and that the third factor has a potential effect on corporate

image and reputation (Dean, 2004). The study exposed students from an introductory marking

course at Southeastern University to three different scenarios involving a company's corporate









framed message, perhaps even arranged into an organized media package to help facilitate their

newsgathering, the benefits to a practitioner's organization increase geometrically" (Zoch &

Molleda, 2006, p. 287).

Just as public relations practitioners can frame events and messages to the media, they can

also help build, or set the media agenda. At the core of agenda-setting theory is the idea that

salience is transferred from the media agenda to the public agenda (Carroll & McCombs, 2003).

"In essence, public relations practitioners contribute to the agenda-building process by providing

information subsidies to journalists via news releases, media advisories, press conferences,

interviews and so forth" (Kiousis & Wu, 2008, p. 59). In other words, public relations

practitioners help set the media agenda by passing on information to the media in a certain way.

In framing and setting the agenda, public relations practitioners do so by using

information subsidies. Information subsidies, or prepackaged information, are created by public

relations practitioners "to promote their organizations' viewpoints on issues, and to communicate

aspects of interest within those issues, to their internal and external publics" (Zoch & Molleda,

2006, p. 284). In other words, information subsidies are used "to publicize organizational

actions and operations that could have an impact on their publics or could add to the formation of

positive organizational images in the minds of their publics" (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 284).

While information subsidies allow the process of news gathering to be cost-efficient for the

media, it allows an organization to influence the public in a way that is considered credible

(Carroll & McCombs, 2003). Specifically, information subsidies include "story suggestions,

news releases, remarks by spokespersons, pseudo-events, satellite feeds, technical reports, and

company websites" (Carroll & McCombs, 2003, p. 42). By using information subsidies as a tool

to inform the media of an organization's CSR efforts, public relations practitioners frame key









socially responsible corporation in just under half of the articles, while BP was also portrayed as

being a socially responsible corporation in just under half of the articles. Perhaps this points to

the concept of CSR not having as much influence on organizational media coverage during a

crisis as previously believed. BP, however, had a slightly higher pro-CSR portrayal, which may

have been due to its established CSR programs and initiatives, performance history or

comparatively better reputation. The publics' perception that BP is socially responsible may

have had an impact on the media portrayal of the crisis being less severe than that of Exxon's.

Exxon's early pro-CSR portrayal may have been due to the fact that at the beginning of the

crisis, it seemed that Exxon did make an attempt to rectify its mistake. However, according to

the opinions expressed in the articles, these efforts were half-hearted and led to compulsory

government intervention. The depiction of Exxon as a socially irresponsible corporation was 6%

higher than that of BP's. According to SCCT, the high percentage of Exxon's anti-CSR

portrayal may have been due to its past performance history, seeing as Exxon Valdez was not the

company's first major oil spill. Moreover, Exxon's oil spill had a profound economic and

environmental impact. As SCCT illustrates, a positive performance history has no notable effect

on the severity of a crisis, while a negative performance history increases the severity of a crisis

(Coombs, 2006). Additionally, Exxon refused to take legal responsibility, resulting in 19 years

of ongoing litigation. BP's anti-CSR portrayal may also have been the a result of its CSR efforts

and prior reputation, just as its pro-CSR portrayal was, with the difference being that its CSR

efforts may have reduced the amount of negative CSR coverage.

Exxon had more articles that were neither pro- nor anti-CSR than BP had. This could be

attributed to the federal case that was pending litigation or to journalists stating the facts. This

finding may also be explained by Canela and Vivarta's (2006) study which found that the media









be said with confidence that a company that is considered socially responsible receives more

favorable media coverage during a crisis. Furthermore, it was found that while the pro-CSR

portrayal of both Exxon and BP was relatively the same, Exxon was portrayed as more socially

irresponsible than BP. Perhaps this was because CSR was not seen as an important corporate

function as it is today. It is also possible that the way both Exxon and BP were run may have

contributed to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of handling each crisis. Taking into

consideration leadership and business practices, the way each crisis was dealt with may have

varied.

Although some organizations only realize the need for public relations practitioners after a

crisis, many organizations recognize the importance of the public relations function as it pertains

to crisis management and communication. It is possible that BP's public relations practitioners

were able to emphasize the importance of social responsibility to the dominant coalition more

effectively than Exxon's; however, it did not make a difference in the amount of favorable media

coverage BP received. Perhaps only after managing a crisis will organizations realize the

importance of its public relations function and the need to align CSR activities with the overall

business strategy. Nonetheless, based on this study, organizational efforts in CSR may not be as

influential as once believed. Although CSR can help an organization achieve its bottom line

more effectively and efficiently, perhaps the role CSR plays needs to be revisited and modified

in order to fit today's business strategies and goals.

Limitations

Because this was a comparative content analysis of two individual oil companies, this

project is limited in its generalizability to other oil companies. Because of oil companies'

pervasiveness in the global economy and environment, the generalizability to other industries is

limited. The first limitation of this study stemmed from the lack of equivalent media coverage.









2006). Although these recommendations are not guaranteed to work with every situation,

research has shown that "a negative performance history intensifies attributions of crisis

responsibility, whereas a positive performance history has no significant effect on attributions of

crisis responsibility" (Coombs, 2006, p. 182). It may be true that being socially responsible may

not affect a company during a crisis; however, it may also be true that not being a socially

responsible company can cause irrevocable damage during a crisis. Therefore, we must break

away from the current organizational crisis management research by focusing on relationships

developed pre-crisis as well as pre-crisis action and communication, instead of solely

emphasizing post-crisis action and communication.

Keeping in line with this, Stakeholder theory (ST) states that organizations must realize the

importance of all stakeholders, not just stockholders, in order to be successful, since any group

can have a negative impact on the organization if they feel neglected, especially in a time of

crisis (Ulmer, 2001). This theory becomes vital particularly in crisis situations since citizens can

make or break an organization's reputation and/or success. In order to establish and maintain

positive reputations, companies must be socially responsible and do good at all times, not just in

times of crisis. Carole Cone, chairman and founder of Cone, said it best when she said that

"good is the new black. It's a staple in your wardrobe. It's not going to go away" (PRWeek US,

2007, p. 2). Heath (1997) emphasized how important it is to have strong, mutually beneficial

relationships with all stakeholders before a crisis, and that pre-crisis communication should focus

on "an appropriate sense of corporate responsibility" (p. 290). He went on to say that "standards

of corporate responsibility needed to meet key publics' expectations" should be implemented

before a crisis (Heath, 1997, p. 293). Although having strong stakeholder relationships before a

crisis may not help an organization avoid a crisis situation, it can help them in resolving the crisis









"journalists writing about the impact of CSR will find it difficult to assess the impact of company

actions" (Hamilton, 2003, p. 5). On the other hand, journalists may find it relatively easy to

assess the impact of company actions if it results in a crisis situation. Only until CSR and crisis

management are looked at under the same microscope will businesses and media realize how one

can impact the other.

Crisis Communication and Management

Research on crisis management has examined crises in terms of stages such as crisis

planning, crisis decision making and communication strategies post-crisis (Ulmer, 2001).

However, one key factor is missing from crisis management analysis: CSR. That is, how

socially responsible the organization is in general and how it contributes to sustainable

development. "The impact of organizational crises has never been stronger: measureable

damage from incidents seems to be greater than in the past, whether quantified as the extent of

ecological destruction or the breadth of product contamination impact" (Pearson & Clair, 1998,

p. 73). It is precisely for this reason that CSR is so important and should be included in crisis

management analysis. This factor can play a large role in damage control and reputation

management in general, but particularly when crises arise. Built around protecting an

organization's reputation during a crisis, Situational Crisis Communication theory (SCCT)

"identifies a set of crisis response strategies and recommends which strategy(ies) would be most

effective in particular crisis situations" (Coombs, 2006 p. 175).

In SCCT, crisis situations are evaluated in two steps: identify the type of crisis involved

and evaluate the modifiers (Coombs, 2006). SCCT has two types of modifiers, or "variables that

can alter attributions generated by the crisis type" (Coombs, 2006, p. 182). The first modifier,

performance history, refers to the organization's past crisis and social responsibility record, and

the second modifier, crisis severity, refers to how much damage the crisis caused (Coombs,









embedding CSR has been communicating to our people what we're doing" (Barner, 2007, p. 60).

It is clear that CSR stories are a great way to communicate to stakeholders what companies are

doing, but companies must be able to relate these stories to various media outlets in some sort of

meaningful way.

Although the media can extol and condemn an organization for its CSR efforts or lack

thereof, there is also no policing agent or regulatory agency that can monitor and punish

corporations that act in a socially irresponsible manner. While organizations such as the United

Nations, CorpWatch and the International Chamber of Commerce have developed things such as

corporate citizenship initiatives, guiding principles and development goals for CSR, the fact

remains that they are not regulatory instruments and instead rely on voluntary compliance.

Furthermore, it is difficult to quantify and measure the progress a corporation makes on CSR

issues. As Jay Whitehead, Publisher of CRO Magazine, pointed out, "comparing peer companies

makes for a better gauge of performance" (Campbell, 2008, 9). For instance, looking at

citizenship efforts of companies in the chemical, energy, financial, media and utilities industries,

CRO Magazine compared different companies' "environmental, social, governance and financial

performance, and measures their track records against industry peers" (Campbell, 2008, 2).

Since CSR efforts vary from industry to industry, and journalists have had a difficult time

of understanding the motivations and impacts of CSR, comparing peer companies may provide

the media with certain guidelines when making comparative ratings, as well as allow them how

to cover the topic more accurately and on a larger scale. It seems that the more global media

attention that has been given to CSR, the more corporations have begun to realize how important

it is in reputation management, averting and/or mitigating crises, and ultimately, to its success as

a business.









able to conclude that there is an ideal level of CSR, which managers can determine via

cost-benefit analysis, and that there is a neutral relationship between CSR and financial

performance. Based on her study, McWilliams (2001) found that a firm perspective theory

(Jensen, 1988) to CSR is based on the assumption that managers usually attempt to maximize

profits. Based on this perspective, CSR can be viewed as a form of investment for a corporation.

However, critics have argued that "there's little if any empirical evidence... that the market can

reliably deliver both short-term financial returns and long-term social benefits" (Business the

Beneficent, 2006, 8). In addition, it can be argued that social responsibility works for some

companies and not for others (Business the Beneficent, 2006). "The market niche for relatively

responsible firms may be limited. And a responsible firm's success isn't guaranteed to last.

Even some celebrated exemplars, such as Ben and Jerry's and Body Shop International, have run

into financial difficulties lately" (Business the Beneficent, 2006, 9).

Nonetheless, CSR should be part of a company's daily business. To be a socially

responsible company, business practices must go beyond the bottom-line and extend to the

community and society at large. Many corporations have sustainability objectives requiring that

all activities have an overall positive impact on people and the planet. IKEA, for example, is one

of those companies. IKEA incorporates social as well as environmental goals into its strategic

planning. Barner (2007) made this connection:

Geographically, IKEA focuses on where it can make a difference. We obviously can't
save 250 million children from exploitation, but changing the lives of 80,000 children in,
say, Uttar Pradesh is still a big accomplishment. To help us in these tasks, we've
partnered with NGOs such as Save the Children and UNICEF as well as the WWF. (p.
60)

Being a furniture supplier that uses a large amount of wood, IKEA also focuses a great

deal on sustainable forestry (Barner, 2007). Although IKEA is able to keep prices low and meet

CSR goals, the director of corporate communications said that the "biggest problem in









safety of Exxon operations and products" (ExxonMobil, 2008, 29). Furthermore, it developed a

computerized communications network that uses desktop workstations to exchange information

and data internationally in 1988. Exxon stated that "among other advantages, the new world-

wide network facilitates quick responses to unusual developments, such as a refinery operating

problem or an abrupt oil price change" (Exxon Annual Report, 1988, p. 11). In addition to

communication improvements, Exxon also claimed to have made several product improvements

for consumers in 1988, such as the 93-octane Exxon Supreme gasoline for high-performance

automobile engines and the Thermal DeNOx for reducing harmful nitrogen oxides in combustion

gases (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). In 1988 alone, Exxon contributed to sustainable

development by donating $49 million to non-profit organizations, including $35 million in the

U.S. (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). Of those donations, 59% were for educational institutions

and programs while 24% were directed to health, welfare and community service programs

(Exxon Annual Report, 1988). Exxon established the Education Foundation in 1988 to improve

math learning and teaching in elementary grades. It gave Math Specialist Planning Grants to 50

school districts across the U.S. to assist the districts in planning for the utilization of math

specialists (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). As part of its matching gift program, educational gifts

made by Exxon employees to the United Negro Fund, the American Indian College or the

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities were matched three-to-one by the Foundation

(Exxon Annual Report, 1988). Exxon also donated $50,000 to the Institute on Black Chemical

Abuse in Minnesota to help develop a national technical assistance, training and information

center, as well as $20,000 to the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute to

help contribute to a better understanding of how the environment affects human health (Exxon









perhaps the reason for this was that most journalists lacked knowledge concerning the

complexity of CSR, or maybe they did not consider it important enough an issue to cover in-

depth. This study concluded that the media had a superficial understanding of CSR, that when

in-depth coverage was provided it lacked a critical analysis and/or pluralistic view of the subject

and that the concept was often confused with social action (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). This points

not only to the need for improved coverage, but also for journalists and media outlets to gain a

greater mastery of CSR. Canela and Vivarta's (2006) study clearly indicated that the "press has

yet to assume the role of CSR regulator" and that "CSR has been incorporated on the agenda of

public sphere discussions in a mostly neutral light" (pp. 104-105). It is obvious thatjournalists

have a great deal to learn about CSR and its value to capitalistic societies.

Just as CSR efforts vary from industry to industry, CSR coverage varies from media outlet

to media outlet. Hamilton's (2003) study found that the business press focused more on financial

aspects of CSR while general interest papers focused more on CSR using entertainment frames

such as scandals, crises, activists and ethical issues. Furthermore, he found that CSR discussion

on the Internet focused more on issues such as boycotts, human rights and corporate codes and

that broadcast outlets did not even cover CSR (Hamilton, 2003). Perhaps this is because

"broadcast news is heavily focused on entertaining stories of interest to wide audiences, criteria

that CSR stories fail to meet" (Hamilton, 2003, p. 8). Hamilton (2003) offered an effective way

to increase the quantity and quality of CSR coverage: lowering the costs of coverage. He also

added that the following things can also help reduce the costs of CSR coverage and attract

journalists: make a company's actions more visible, highlight the human interest aspects of a

CSR project, develop universally accepted CSR definitions and standards, and provide









CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

This analysis was based on the content of 211 newspaper articles, which represented

coverage over the course of one year of both Exxon and BP during an organizational crisis. The

majority of the Exxon articles, specifically 75.9% (n=166), were located on pages other than the

first of any section of the newspaper, while 60% (n=45) of the BP articles were located on pages

other than the first of any section. Slightly less than a quarter (21.08%) (n=166) of the Exxon

articles were located on front page of the first section, compared to slightly less than a third

(31.11%) (n=45) of the BP articles. Precisely 3.01% (n=166) of the Exxon articles were located

on the front page of all other sections, compared to 8.89% (n=45) of the BP articles. Slightly

more than two-thirds (66.87%) (n=166) of the Exxon articles had a word count of 601 words or

more, compared to 55.56% (n=45) of the BP articles. Nearly one-fifth (19.28%) (n=166) of the

Exxon articles had a word count that ranged from 301 to 600 words, compared to 33.33% (n=45)

of the BP articles. Finally, 13.86% (n=166) of the Exxon articles had a word count that ranged

from zero to 300 words, compared to 11.11% (n=45) of the BP articles.

RQ1: Do companies that are considered socially responsible receive more
favorable media coverage during a crisis situation?

The results of an independent sample t-test indicated that there is no significant

difference in the amount of favorable coverage a socially responsible company receives during a

crisis, t (209) = -0.95,p = 0.34. That is, the average of favorable media coverage for BP

(M= -0.56, SD = 0.725) was not significantly different from that of Exxon (M= -0.45, SD =

0.628). Thus the researcher failed to reject the null hypothesis that the means are the same.

Since there was no significant difference between both companies, it cannot be said with

confidence that a company that is considered socially responsible receives more favorable media

coverage during a crisis. Therefore, RQ1 was not shown to be supported.









as environmental damage, improper treatment of workers, and faulty production that

inconveniences or endangers customers are highlighted in the media" (Asongu, 2007, p. 12).

The concept of CSR includes the following components: economics, legal, ethics and

corporate philanthropy (Hall, 2006). The field of CSR is comprised of many different theories

and approaches. In order to understand what they are, as well as the implications, it is necessary

to classify them in to the following four groups: (1) instrumental theories, in which it is assumed

that the corporation is an instrument for wealth creation and that this is its sole social

responsibility; (2) political theories, where the social power of the corporation is emphasized,

specifically in its relationship with society and its responsibility in the political arena associated

with power; (3) integrative theories, which argues that businesses depend on society for its

growth and continuity and even for the existence of the business itself; and (4) ethical theories,

based on the notion that firms should accept social responsibility as an ethical obligation above

any other consideration (Garriga & Mele, 2004). In other words, instrumental theories focus on

achieving economic objectives through various social activities, while political theories assert

that the social responsibility of a business arises from the amount of social power they have

(Garriga & Mele, 2004). In addition, integrative theories basically focus on the integration of

social demands, while ethical theories focus on doing the right thing in order to achieve a good

society (Garriga & Mele, 2004).

From their study, Garriga and Mele (2004) concluded the following:

Most of the current CSR theories are focused on four main aspects: (1) meeting
objectives that produce long-term benefits, (2) using business power in a responsible
way, (3) integrating social demands and (4) contributing to a good society by doing what
is ethically correct. (p. 65)

Although what is considered ethical will depend on the accepted norms of a particular

group, organization, culture, etc., it is important to have a broad sense of what it means to be









from within the government), other, corporate & government (sources from within the
organization and from within the government), corporate & other (sources from within
the organization and other sources), government & other (sources from within the
government and other sources), all of the above or none of the above.

VI. First Source Cited
Each article is coded for the first source cited. The first source cited in each article is
coded as corporate (sources from within the organization), government (sources from
within the government), other or none.

VII. First Source Quoted
Each article is coded for the first source quoted. The first source quoted cited in each
article is coded as corporate (sources from within the organization), government
(sources from within the government), other or none.

VIII. Overall Article Tone
Each article is coded for its general tone. Tone is coded as being negative (depicting
blame, irresponsibility, denial of responsibility, economically motivated actions, human
error, neglect, carelessness, regulation, condemnation, incompetence, legal
action/litigation, forced action, remorselessness, no intention of doing good or taking
corrective action, arrogance, aggressiveness and/or selfishness), neutral (depicting
neither obviously positive nor negative associations) or positive (depicting responsibility,
concern, remorse, corrective action, praise, honesty, integrity, reliability, sincerity,
trustworthiness, carefulness, competence, transparency, voluntary action, social
responsibility and/or positive themes such as human service, monetary compensation,
people receiving praise, progress, etc.).









APPENDIX A
CODE BOOK

Source: All newspaper articles were retrieved from The New York Times, The Washington Post
and USA Today via the database LexisNexis Academic.
Date range: 03/25/1989 03/25/1990 (Exxon); 03/03/2006 03/03/2007 (BP)

Every article in the sample should receive a unique identification number that consists of the
following: EX1-EX166; BP1-BP45. The date and time of each article should be in this format:
month/day/year. For example, an article that was published on March 25, 1989 would have the
following identifier: 03/25/1989. If more than one article in the sample is published on the same
date, the year of publication will be followed by a, b, c and so on in chronological order.

I. Location of Article in Newspaper
Articles are coded for its location in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA
Today as information is available. Location can be determined by information explicitly
stated on the article. Location of article in newspaper is coded as prominent (front page
of section A), less prominent (front page of all other sections) or obscure (all other
pages of other sections).

II. Word Count
Number of words in each article is coded as either short (0-300 words), medium
(301-600 words), or long (601 words or more).

III. Frequency of Emotive Language
References to emotive language are coded as reflecting anti-CSR, neutral CSR,
pro-CSR or mixed-CSR. Language that portrays the company as not socially
responsible (anti-CSR) includes the words blame, denial, appeal, refusal, irresponsibility,
mistake, problem, contradiction, damage, crisis, emergency, negative image, unethical,
risk, negligible, contamination, violation, dispute, litigation or functional variations of
those words as well as similar word choices. Language that does not portray the
company as either socially responsible or socially irresponsible is coded as neutral CSR.
Language that portrays the company as socially responsible (pro-CSR) includes the
words apology, accountability, responsibility, clean-up, positive image, cooperation,
assistance, goodwill, transparency, ethical, agreement, public relations, solution, safety or
functional variations of those words as well as similar word choices. Language that
portrays the company as being both socially responsible and socially irresponsible is
coded as mixed-CSR.

IV. News Frames
Each article is coded for its general news frame. News frames are coded as being
primary (health, human interest, economic, environmental, legal, attribution of
responsibility or denial news frames) or secondary (any other news frames).

V. News Sources
Each article is coded for source attribution. Quotes or paraphrases from sources are
coded as corporate (sources from within the organization), government (sources









LIST OF REFERENCES


Asongu, J.J. (2007). The history of corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business and
Public Policy, 1(2), 1-18.

Baker, M. (2007a). Arguments against corporate social responsibility. Mallen Baker Web site.
Retrieved on Nov. 11, 2007, from http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/CSRfiles/against.html.

Baker, M. (2007b). Corporate social responsibility-What does it mean? Mallen Baker Web site.
Retrieved on Nov. 11, 2007, from http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/CSRfiles/
definition.html.

Baran, S.J., & Davis, D.K. (2003). Mass communication theory: Foundations, ferment, and
future. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Barner, M. (2007). Be a socially responsible corporation. Harvard Business Review, 85(7/8),
59-60.

Barber, B.R. (2001). No: Always an angle. Across the Board, 38(3), 45-50.

Burns, J.E. (1998). Information subsidies and agenda building: A study of local radio news. New
Jersey Journal of Communication, 6(1), 90-100.

Burton, B. (2007). Corporate social responsibility. SourceWatch Web site. Retrieved on Nov. 4,
2007, from http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Corporate_Social
Responsibility. Boston, MA: Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Business the Beneficent. (2006). Wilson Quarterly, 30(1), 70-72.

Campbell, J. (2008). CRO magazine introduces "CRO's 10 best corporate citizens by industry
2007. "Press Release from CSRwire Web site. Retrieved on Oct. 17, 2007, from
http://www.csrwire.com/News/9925.html. Springfield, MA: CSRwire, LLC.

Canela, G., & Vivarta, V. (2006). Corporate social responsibility in Brazil: The role of the press
as watchdog. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21, 95-106.

Carroll, C.E., & McCombs, M. (2003). Agenda-setting effects of business news on the public's
images and opinions about major corporations. Corporate Reputation Review, 6(1),
36-46.

Coombs, W. T. (1999). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning, miitigin. and responding.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Coombs, W. T. (2006). Crisis management: A communicative approach. In C.H. Botan & V.
Hazleton (Eds.), Public relations theory II (pp. 171-198). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.









LIST OF FIGURES

Figure page

4-1 Tone of Exxon M edia Coverage Over Time ..................................... ........ ............... 59

4-2 Tone of BP M edia Coverage Over Tim e .................................. ....................... .. .......... 59









The low amount of positive Exxon articles may be explained by Pearson and Clair's

(1998) assertion that organizations that are generally disfavored and have a negative past

performance history do not receive as favorable media coverage because they are under careful

evaluation by the media. ST may help shed some light on Exxon's negative media coverage

seeing as they may have not nourished stakeholder relationships prior to the crisis (Coombs,

2006). Over two-thirds of the BP articles had an overall negative tone. This finding, however,

did not support the general claim that the better reputation an organization has prior to a crisis,

the more sympathetic the media are in terms of coverage (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994; Pearson

& Clair, 1998; Ulmer, 2001; Klein & Dawar, 2004). On the other hand, this finding did support

Dean's (2004) "double-edged sword" idea. This idea states that although a good reputation

generates goodwill for the company in times of crisis, it also punishes them for inappropriate

responses more so than a company with a bad reputation for social responsibility (Dean, 2004).

In other words, it is possible that BP received negative press because consumers may have had

higher expectations for the company since it is seen as a more socially responsible corporation

with a better reputation than Exxon. As Dean (2004) found, organization's have a better chance

of getting negative press than positive press simply because the media have a preference for

reporting negative news. This finding may offer a possible explanation as to why the majority of

both Exxon and BP's articles were negative in tone.

Positive articles for BP appeared almost twice as often as those for Exxon. This could, on

the other hand, be explained by the same general claim that is unsupported by BP's negative

articles. As Simokos and Kurzbard (1994) found, negative effects of a crisis may be alleviated

by the press when it reports that a company in crisis is acting socially responsible in an effort to

mitigate damage. Perhaps BP's slightly higher positive media coverage may have been due to its









CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

Method

A fully accurate measure of CSR impacts in crisis situations would have required the

analysis of all media coverage of an organization in a crisis. As this would have been

impractical within the scope of this thesis, the perspective of one media channel-newspaper

articles-served as a proxy for the full spectrum of relevant media channels. Newspaper articles

from The New York Times were specifically chosen for this study because of its status as an elite

newspaper and its reputation for comprehensive coverage. Such an elite newspaper can be very

influential in the framing and agenda-setting of other papers (McCombs & Shaw, 1972).

Therefore, it is important to look at framing and agenda-setting together, since framing is central

to second-level agenda-setting (McCombs, 1997).

Comparative content analysis was deemed the most appropriate research method for this

investigation. Comparative analysis integrates key aspects of content analysis, although no

specific coding is utilized, and looks for recurring patterns in order to evaluate trends. Because

this was a comparative content analysis, research questions were selected in an attempt to

establish the level of importance of being seen as socially responsible, while at the same time

trying to determine if such status affects media coverage of a crisis, and inevitably, the recovery

process and time. Recovery process and time were operationalized in terms of change in media

coverage tone over the crisis cycle.

Content analysis is a systematic and objective research technique used for studying the

content of communication (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006). Specifically, quantitative content

analysis was employed because it "increases the degree of precision of one's conclusions and

permits a more accurate description of covariance between elements" (Kaid & Wadsworth, 1989,









reputation and external effects during the crisis, their study found that these two factors

"significantly affect consumers' perceptions of the degree of danger associated with the harmful

product" (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994, pp. 35-36). In other words, consumers viewed product

defects as less dangerous when the company involved in the crisis had a strong reputation and

when external parties' (i.e. the press) reactions to company responses were positive (Siomkos &

Kurzbard, 1994). It is clear from this study that the media can play a powerful role in

influencing consumers' opinions about an organization, and that a companies' reputation prior to

a crisis can play just as big a role, or sometimes an even more powerful role than the media.

When the media covers an organization in a favorable light, chances are that consumers will

view them in the same light. By the same token, when an organization is socially responsible

and as a result has a strong reputation, the media and society, through a domino effect, will also

view the organization in a favorable light.

Previous marketing research has shown that CSR affects unrelated product evaluations, but

Klein and Dawar's (2004) study examined the halo effect that CSR beliefs have on attributions

made about a product-harm crisis. This CSR halo effect, they asserted, "may influence

consumer judgments in nonroutine settings" such as unpredictable crisis situations (Klein &

Dawar, 2004, p. 204). For their study, 150 people that were intercepted in a mall completed a

questionnaire that used a seven-point Likert scale to examine three conditions: positive CSR,

negative CSR and a control condition, where no CSR information was provided (Klein & Dawar,

2004). The researchers hypothesized that "for firms that enjoy positive prior CSR, the trigger

event for the product-harm crisis will be judged as more external, less stable and less

controllable, relative to firms that do not enjoy positive CSR" (Klein & Dawar, 2004, p. 207).

After supporting the above hypothesis, Klein and Dawar (2004) found that "CSR associations









have a superficial understanding of CSR and that it "has yet to assume the role of CSR regulator"

(pp. 104-105). They also found, that the vague use of CSR and its equivalents were far more

widespread than were in-depth reflections of the issue (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). Canela and

Vivarta's (2006) finding may be a possible explanation for why BP did not have any neutral-

CSR articles. Another possible explanation can be that more people may have cared about the

oil spill, resulting in them taking a side.

Finally, the depiction of Exxon as both a socially responsible and socially irresponsible

corporation was 10% less than that of BP. Exxon's mixed-CSR portrayal in the articles was

possibly a result of changing public opinion due to the slow process of discovery and fact finding

in the federal case. BP's mixed-CSR portrayal could be attributed to its prior CSR efforts

despite the crisis event that it was responsible for. A mixed-CSR portrayal could reflect on the

articles' conceding that BP was the cause of the crisis and could have prevented it, as well as

BP's understanding that it was responsible for the crisis and took every initiative to rectify the

situation.

The fourth research question for this study sought to determine which frames the media

use in covering an organization in crisis. For both Exxon and BP, the media predominantly used

primary news frames, such as health, human interest, the economy and the environment. This

finding was in line with Hamilton's (2003) assertion that journalists covering CSR stories in

recent years tend to focus their attention specifically on community, health and environmental

issues. Specifically, the environmental frame included information on damage to wildlife and

the ecosystem. The economical frame included information on affected industries and

businesses and on the impact of oil prices around the country. The human interest frames

highlighted community residents who helped in the cleanup efforts, as well as residents whose









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Pearson, C.M., & Clair, J.A. (1998). Reframing crisis management. Academy ofManagement
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Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Pratt, C.B. (2003). Reformulating the emerging theory of corporate social responsibility as good
governance. In C.H. Botan & V. Hazleton (Eds.), Public relations theory II
(pp. 249-275). Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

PRWeek UK. (2005, Aug. 12). CSR: Who's responsible? p. 21.

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Raboy, M., & Dagenais, B. (1994). Media, crisis and democracy: Mass communication and the
disruption of social order. Canadian Journal of Communication, 19(2), 242-244.

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9(3), n.p.

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UK, p. 9.









accepting legal and financial responsibility of the crisis. Furthermore, BP's positive media

coverage may be explained by the presence of strong pre-crisis stakeholder relationships.

Additionally, the tone of the BP articles became more positive earlier in the crisis than the Exxon

articles. A possible explanation for this may be that no blame was laid on any party, therefore

resulting in the BP coverage becoming more positive earlier on. It is also possible that media

coverage may have reflected publicly held attitudes about BP, impacting media perceptions and

ultimately, media coverage of the crisis early on (Pearson & Clair, 1998). It is important to note,

however, that in terms of volume, Exxon had more coverage than BP. Although the type of

coverage that Exxon and BP received was generally the same, perhaps the BP crisis was not as

environmentally or economically significant, hence why the BP coverage was less in volume.

The second research question sought to determine whether the tone of media coverage in a

crisis changes over time. A chronological analysis of the articles was used to determine this.

Based on the timeline of articles, the tone of media coverage fluctuated, and no identifiable

pattern was found in both the case of Exxon or BP. This inconclusiveness could be attributed to

a reporter's personal beliefs) about the companies, which may have been reflected in the

articles. Another possibility could be that an article's tone may reflect current public opinion,

which is dynamic and frequently changing. On the other hand, perhaps there was no identifiable

pattern because the media was reporting hard news with little or no bias, resulting in a balance of

media reporting in this case. Despite these possibilities, the study provided no conclusive

evidence that the tone of media coverage in a crisis changes over time.

The next question for the study sought to determine the CSR portrayal of an organization

in crisis through emotive language. Key words were coded as pro-CSR, anti-CSR, neutral-CSR

and mixed-CSR. The results of the analysis showed that Exxon was portrayed as being a









significant difference in the amount of favorable media coverage BP received during its crisis.

Perhaps the media have a superficial understanding of CSR just as organizations may have had

in the past. Or perhaps there have been changes in journalistic patterns of covering organizations

in crises over time. Either way, it is possible that organizational efforts in CSR need to be

revised and adjusted. Based on this study, it is possible that the concept of CSR may not have

any impact on media coverage of an organization in crisis. Although the media may not fully

understand the importance of CSR, public relations practitioners do.

The role of public relations during a crisis is invaluable. One of the guidelines offered by

the mutual gains approach says to accept responsibility (Susskind & Field, 1996). Perhaps BP's

public relations practitioners were more influential to top management than were Exxon's, hence

BP's ability to frame the crisis from a corporate perspective. The media forced attention to the

environmental, economic, health, human and legal impact of each crisis. BP, however, played a

role in setting the agenda, as evident by the media's reliance on corporate sources from the

organization. BP seized control of the story and got its message out early. In this case, agenda-

setting and framing theory can be applied to how an organization communicates its CSR efforts

to the media. By framing the narrative early on, BP was able to position itself as a proactive

organization. This proactive involvement may have allowed BP to get through the crisis phases

quicker and ultimately may have had a greater influence in its recovery. Although it may be

difficult to establish and strengthen the narrative, once it is in place, it is very difficult to change,

giving the organization the upper hand.

This project found that although the tone of media coverage did not change over time, the

tone of BP's media coverage became positive earlier on. This study also found that there was no

significant difference in favorable media coverage between Exxon and BP. As a result, it cannot









society by giving to charity (Steiner & Steiner, 2003). Another popular view is that the

obligations firms face today are a result of the Period of Protests and Empowerment

(1965-1985), (Cutlip et al., 2006). This period is classified as "student and activist protests

against environmental pollution, racial and gender discrimination, concentration of special

interest wealth and power, the Vietnam war, governmental abuse of the public trust, and

consequently, and increasing recognition of social responsibility and more responsive

organizations" (Cutlip et al., 2006, p. 95). Still others believe that businesses did not begin

paying attention to its 'social consciousness' until the mid-1940s, and only shortly thereafter was

there scholarly interest in the subject (Pratt, 2003).

The use of the term CSR first appeared regularly in the press in the 1970s, "with stories

focusing on consumer advocate Ralph Nadar, pollution, and shareholder actions surrounding

CSR debates" (Hamilton, 2003, p. 5). However, CSR is said to have its roots in the writings of

U.S. Steel founder Andrew Carnegie. In his writings, Carnegie articulated two principles that he

thought were fundamental for capitalism to work: charity and stewardship (Freeman & Liedtka,

1991). As corporations grew in both magnitude and power, society put more pressure on these

corporations to put human rights issues first (Steiner & Steiner, 2003). As concerns about large

corporations and their power came to the forefront in the early 20th century, the broad principles

of charity and stewardship helped to shape thinking about CSR (Freeman & Liedtka, 1991). The

principle of charity requires more fortunate members of society to assist those less fortunate

members, and the principle of stewardship requires businesses and wealthy people to see

themselves as caretakers of resources and of their property (Asongu, 2007). By the 20th century,

CSR was practiced more widely in the United States than anywhere else in the world (Steiner &

Steiner, 2003).









Keeping in mind what constitutes CSR, BP has contributed to sustainable development in

the following ways: BP runs programs through training courses, international assignments,

mentoring, team development days, workshops, seminars and online learning to increase the

number of local leaders and employees in its operations; it is part of European Union Emissions

Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and claims to reduce waste and emissions and use natural resources

responsibly; it contributes to energy policy education and spent $50.2 million in promoting

education in the areas of energy and the environment, business leadership skills and basic

education in developing countries where it operates large projects ; it launched BP Ultimate in

2003 to carry "fuel that delivers reductions in emissions such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen

oxide compared with standard fuel" (Sutherland, 2006, p. 20); it created BP Alternative Energy

in 2005 "to generate and market cleaner, low-carbon power from solar, wind, hydrogen and

natural gas sources" (Sutherland, 2006, p. 20); BP supports university projects that investigate

transportation and energy issues in growing urban areas and funds research centers, such as

Oxford University in the United Kingdom; BP contributed $95.5 million in community programs

in 2005; it invested $9.6 million in support of enterprise development and supports micro-finance

systems in countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia and Vietnam; BP has installed solar

panels at its service stations, brought solar power to villages in the Philippines, Algeria and Sri

Lanka, helped bring hydrogen-fueled buses to London, and introduced new, cleaner types of

motor fuel. BP also has water management guidelines, waste management programs, and

requirements for environmental impact assessments (EIAs), environmental management systems

and environmental programs. Since 2000, BP has supported more than 200 initiatives related to

biodiversity, spanning research, education and conservation. Furthermore, BP supports and uses









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Too often, management makes decisions without considering the consequences of those
decisions... When management makes such decisions, many publics develop into activist
groups who actively oppose the organization. Opposition typically results in litigation,
legislation, regulation, and negative publicity that cost the organization a great deal of
money. Even if publics do not organize to oppose decisions, management has a
responsibility to alleviate negative consequences of its actions-such as pollution, risky
products, discrimination, economic hardship, or a dangerous workplace. Recognizing and
alleviating these consequences is the essence of social responsibility, and the public
relations function is the management champion of social responsibility (Lamb & McKee,
2006, p. 34).

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a topic of increasing interest to many and

has been firmly placed on the global public policy agenda. It has been argued that governments

and their international economic organizations have "failed in their attempts to rid the planet of

under-development and poverty" (Hopkins, 2006, I1). As a result, many organizations such as

the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a Geneva-based global

association of companies, have been created with the goal of providing businesses all over the

world the opportunity to contribute to sustainable human progress, as well as a sustainable future

for developing nations and nations in transition (World Business Council for Sustainable

Development, 2008).

Although no formal definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR) exists, the WBCSD

defines it as "the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to

economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as

well as the local community and society at large" (WBCSD, 1999, p. 3). The European

Commission defines CSR as "a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental

concerns in their business operations and in their interactions with their stakeholders on a

voluntary basis" (Newell & Frynas, 2007, p. 673). Esler (2007) asserts that "the CSR acronym, a

catch-all for everything from clean, green practices to ethical behavior and nurturing employees,









Corporate social responsibility and profitability go hand-in-hand. Similarly, CSR and

crisis prevention/mitigation go hand-in-hand. But being socially responsible in the way

businesses make profits is just the beginning of CSR. Businesses "must go one step further: they

should proactively strive to improve the working and living standards of their employees,

contribute to communities in which they operate and preserve and protect the environment"

(Jonker & Marberg, 2007, p. 108). Companies that invest in education, the environment and

health and human services are reaping the benefits not only financially, but also by enhancing

their reputations and in turn, averting or minimizing crises when they arise.

For the purpose of this study, good CSR took on the meaning of contributing to

sustainable development. Bad CSR took on the meaning of not demonstrating an active

commitment to sustainable development via social and environmental programs. Based on the

aforementioned literature, this study addressed the following research questions:

RQ1: Do companies that are considered socially responsible receive more favorable media
coverage during a crisis situation?

RQ2: Does the tone of media coverage in a crisis change over time?

RQ3: What is the CSR portrayal of an organization in crisis through emotive language?

RQ4: What frames do the media use in coverage of an organization in crisis?

RQ5: What sources do the media use predominantly during a crisis?









Molleda, 2006, p. 285), Burs' (1998) study found that just because it is sent to media outlets

does not mean that it will be opened or used. The findings of his study suggest that the most

important aspect of an information subsidy is the source, that is, who or what organization sent

it, rather than the content of the subsidy itself (Burns, 1998). This suggests that being credible

and having a solid reputation may impact whether or not an organization's information subsidy is

used by the media. Furthermore, "an understanding of media needs also helps a source to get

information published or to get air play" (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 290).

In the case of media framing, it is important to note that it "takes place in discourse and

concerns how an idea is justified, legitimized and talked about" (Jonker & Marberg, 2007, p.

116). Specifically, Pearson and Clair (1998) asserted that "organizations generally held in public

favor before a crisis will be allowed more latitude regarding their crisis management efforts;

those generally disfavored before the crisis will be judged with closer scrutiny" (p. 73). Both in

terms of a crisis and as a business in general, the media have the power of framing an

organization as socially responsible or irresponsible, therefore influencing publicly held beliefs

and attitudes of that organization. In addition, publicly held attitudes about a company have a

propensity to impact the media's perceptions, and ultimately, media coverage (Pearson & Clair,

1998). Based on this, it is not implausible to presume that good CSR tends to bias media's

perceptions of an organization facing a crisis in a positive way. Although the media plays a large

role in bringing crisis situations to the limelight, they cannot always be blamed. Organizations

that create crises must be held accountable. It may be possible that being a socially responsible

company may be helpful in crisis management.

Media coverage of CSR on a global level varies depending on the country. A study done

by Echo Research in 2001 revealed that while CSR is a hot topic in some countries, the same













News Frames

News Sources








First Source Cited



First Source Quoted



Overall Article Tone


1. Solution
m. Safety
2. Mixed-CSR
1=Primary
1 Secondary
1=Corporate
2=Government
3 =Other
4=Corporate & Government
5=Corporate & Other
6=Government & Other
7=All of the Above
8=None of the Above
1=Corporate
2=Government
3 =Other
4=None
1=Corporate
2=Government
3 =Other
4=None
-l=Negative
0=Neutral
1=Positive


FIRSTS



FIRST



OAT









acceptable (WBCSD, 1999). More responsibility is being placed on companies "to alleviate

negative consequences of its actions-such as pollution, risky products, discrimination,

economic hardship, or a dangerous workplace" (Lamb & McKee, 2006, p. 34). The CSR agenda

has shifted from that of philanthropic giving to creating initiatives aimed at improving human

rights, employee rights, the environment and community involvement (Barber, 2001). We have

moved from away from an era where businesses were considered socially responsible by solely

writing checks for specific causes, to an era where businesses now have legal and social

obligations to the societies in which they operate. "Corporate social responsibility now includes

everything from charitable donations, to voluntary expenditures on environmental protection, to

paying Third World workers First World wages" (Business the Beneficent, 2006, 13).

One of the keys to success for any corporation is building and maintaining positive

relationships within the community. Although the CSR movement offers ways for companies to

reduce negative externalities that result from decisions they make, it can also offer ways for

companies to produce positive externalities such as increases in education, health outcomes and

community development (Hamilton, 2003). Across industries, there are numerous corporations

that have engaged in various socially responsible activities. Many companies boast about these

initiatives, however, it is the media that plays a big role in maintaining or shifting corporate

reputations. The bottom line is that a corporation cannot expect to win the will of its publics if it

does not do something for them in return.

Social responsibility is extremely valuable to a corporation when it comes to building and

maintaining relationships, building and maintaining an image or reputation, managing risk and

hiring and retaining capable employees. CSR issues can range from human rights, employee

rights and disaster relief to environmental protection, supplier relations and community









using framing theory, the media and public relations practitioners are able to "help arouse,

sustain, and renew certain affective and emotional experiences related to an issue" (Kosicki &

Pan, 1996, p. 150). In some cases, public relations efforts may be so effective that it can create

public discourse about topics that would otherwise be ignored.

Agenda-setting theory suggests that the media sets the agenda by forcing attention to

certain issues. "They are constantly presenting objects suggesting what individuals in mass

media should think about, know about, have feelings about" (Lang & Lang, 1966, as cited in

McCombs & Shaw, 1972, p. 177). In other words, instead of telling readers what to think, the

media tells them what to think about (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). "In classic agenda-setting

research, the core dimension of public opinion monitored has been perceived public salience, but

the attitudinal consequences of the process have also been highlighted" (Kiousis & Wu, 2008, p.

62). Since media coverage can influence what the public thinks about, it is plausible that the

media influences the salience of attitudes as well (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). In other words,

media salience of an issue increases the salience of that issue in public opinion (McCombs &

Shaw, 1972).

Kiousis et al. (2007) analyzed the impact of public relations and news media on corporate

reputation and financial performance and found that "corporations would benefit from stressing

corporate vision and leadership and social responsibility in their information subsidies targeted

toward mass media outlets" (p. 161). This study found that this can ultimately lead to a more

effective use of media relations in managing a reputation. The study proved that object salience

in public relations messages may lead to increased salience in news coverage. Although the

media have traditionally played the role of setting the news agenda, other groups such as public

relations practitioners and interest groups are increasingly participating in agenda-setting (Zoch









APPENDIX

A C O D E B O O K ................................................................................................................... 7 2

B C O D E S H E E T ....................................................................................................7 4

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ..................................................................................... ....................76

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H .............................................................................. .....................82














































6









journalists with the opportunity to attend CSR conferences and read CSR reports (Hamilton,

2003).

Just as it may be optimistic to think that the media draws attention to positive CSR efforts,

it may be just as cynical to think that it draws attention to crisis situations. However, as Raboy

and Dagenais (1994) argued, the media defines, represents and engages in crisis situations. The

authors argued that the media plays a role in defining crises and also structures them as public

issues (Raboy & Dagenais, 1994). Furthermore, they claimed that "crises do not exist in the

world. They exist in discourse" (Raboy & Dagenais, 1994, 6). Since the media creates this

discourse, then it can be said that they both socially construct and reflect crisis situations. Evans

(2007) further supported the claim that crises are socially constructed through media discourse

by stating that whether an organization is involved in a political, social or economic crisis, the

crisis itself is often manmade.

Pearson and Clair (1998) emphasized how influential the media have become in framing

their perspective of a crisis, pointing out that they have a predisposition to reinforce existing

public attitudes. The "media can also affect the way issues are framed through the choices of

journalists who cover a story, and those who may be chosen as sources" (Kosicki & Pan, 1996,

as cited in Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 283). In other words, depending on which sources are

included in media coverage, messages will be framed in a way that reflects the underlying

communication message from the respective source. Therefore, by using information subsidies

and positioning themselves as an accurate, reliable and readily available source, public relations

practitioners have a higher chance of getting their messages to the media (Zoch & Molleda,

2006). Although information subsidies "increase the likelihood that the information will be

consumed by the journalists and used in media content" (Turk, 1986, p. 3, as cited in Zoch &









Smith (1994) identified specific milestones that contributed to the evolution of CSR.

Among them was the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, which according to Kotler and Lee (2005),

did the following:

...brought into serious question the philanthropy of the 1970s and 1980s, where
corporations tended to support social issues least associated with their line of business,
give to a variety of social causes, and turn over management of their giving to separate
foundations. (p. 7)

Kotler and Lee (2005) asserted that when Exxon needed environmental expertise and

support, management had no such people to turn to because relationships with this group had

never been nurtured, nonetheless established. Now into the 21st century, the trend in CSR is

moving toward making "long-term commitments to specific social issues and initiatives,

providing more than cash contributions, sourcing funds from business units as well as

philanthropic budgets, forming strategic alliances, and doing all of this in a way that also

advances business goals" (Kotler & Lee, 2005, p. 7). Furthermore, the trend in CSR is moving

toward making a stronger obligation to protect and enhance global society (Steiner & Steiner,

2003). Consequently, CSR has long been seen by academics and managers alike as the missing

link in capitalism (Freeman & Liedtka, 1991).

Newell and Frynas (2007) contested that CSR "emerged among leading firms and

business schools as a public relations tool, a way to deflect criticism, engage critics and

potentially capitalise on emerging business opportunities associated with doing, and being seen

to be doing, good" (p. 670). Today, the use of CSR has changed to reflect our changing society

and economy. At present, corporate strategies are "aligned with the pressing need to tackle

poverty and social exclusion across the majority world" (Newell & Frynas, 2007, p. 670).

Although there isn't complete agreement on what the concept of CSR fully entails, "issues such









Role of Media in Portraying CSR Efforts and Crisis Situations

Although the history of CSR may be as old as the history of business, it is in recent years

that reporters covering CSR stories across the globe have tended to focus their attention on

community, health and environmental issues (Hamilton, 2003). Hamilton's (2003) study found

that there was persistent media coverage of CSR in the 1980s and 1990s, reflecting the notion

that CSR "became part of the expected costs of doing business" (p. 5). Furthermore, media

coverage of CSR increased noticeably in 2000, rose again in 2001, and persisted to grow in 2002

(Hamilton, 2003). From this data, it is evident that concept of CSR is still evolving and has been

gaining media attention over the last 30 or so years.

In a study conducted by Canela and Vivarta (2006), 54 newspaper articles between

October 2003 and September 2004 were analyzed to determine how CSR was portrayed in the

media and what type of oversight the media exercises over corporations that apply CSR

initiatives. The study found that 60% of the texts included discussions that were not focused on

issues related to CSR and that 40% had a clear goal of addressing the issue (Canela & Vivarta,

2006). It is interesting to note, however, that most of the stories analyzed contained terms

associated with CSR instead of actual reflections on the issue (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). The

study concluded that 23.2% of the stories focused on only one or several events regarding CSR,

24.5% of the stories offered a deeper analysis of the issue, and the rest of the articles mentioned

the expression social responsibility and its equivalents (Canela & Vivarta, 2006).

Therefore, the analysis of the coverage in this study pointed out that the vague use of the

expression 'social responsibility' and its equivalents were far more widespread than were in-

depth reflections of the issue (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). "In other words, the sample indicated

that newspapers publish strictly factual stories (events), and, when more in-depth coverage is

sought, the articles offer a narrow line of thinking" (Canela & Vivarta, 2006, p. 101). Again,









RQ2: Does the tone of the media coverage change in a crisis over time?

With respect to both Exxon and BP, and based on the timeline of the articles, there was

no identifiable pattern of media coverage changing in either crisis over time (see Figures 4-1 and

4-2). Therefore, in this specific case, the tone of media coverage did not change over time.

RQ3: What is the CSR portrayal of an organization in crisis through emotive language?

The third research question addressed how each organization in crisis was portrayed in

terms of CSR through emotive language in each article. A descriptive reporting of means

indicated that 41.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles used emotive language to reflect anti-CSR,

while 35.6% (n=45) of the BP articles reflected anti-CSR. Six percent of the Exxon articles

reflected neutral-CSR, while none of the BP articles did. In terms of pro-CSR, 44.6% (n=166) of

the Exxon articles reflected this, compared to 46.7% (n=45) of the BP articles. Furthermore,

7.8% (n=166) of the Exxon articles reflected mixed-CSR, compared to almost 17.8% (n=45) of

the BP articles.

RQ4: What frames do the media use in coverage of an organization in crisis?

The fourth research question addressed the issue of news frames. A descriptive reporting

of means indicated that 59.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles used primary news frames,

compared to 82.2% (n=45) of the BP articles. Primary news frames included health, human

interest, economic, attribution of responsibility, environmental, legal or denial news frames.

Secondary news frames were used in 40.4% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to nearly

17.8% (n=45) of the BP articles. Secondary news frames included any other news frames

(blame, fear, disputes, etc.).

RQ5: What sources do the media use predominantly during a crisis?









As a result, researchers must continue to study the trend of how CSR efforts impact crises and

how it is covered by the media and conduct studies over time. This study is by no means meant

to an overarching barometer of the relationship between CSR and crises nor the relationship

between the media and corporations in crises. However, it is hoped that this research will serve

as the beginning of what could potentially be a wide range of research related to the study of

social responsibility, crises, corporations and media portrayal, which will continue to expand as

the growing and evolving field of CSR does.









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framing, information subsidies, and agenda-building. In C. H. Botan & V. Hazleton
(Eds.), Public relations theory II (pp. 279-309). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates.

Zoellick, R.B. (2007). Module 3: A framework: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) diamond.
World Bank Web site. Retrieved on Feb. 18, 2008, from http://www.worldbank.org/
wbi/governance/pdf/fy02brief/csrdiamondoverview.pdf Washington, D.C.: World
Bank.









on several different aspects of the U.S. government. Owned by the Gannett Company, USA

Today was founded in 1982 and has the widest circulation of any U.S. newspaper (more than 2.2

million copies every weekday). With its motto "Your News, When You Want It" printed on the

front page, USA Today's daily editions have four major sections: news, money, sports and life.

The three selected newspapers for this study are highly regarded among media outlets and

therefore served to represent national elite media content.

Sampling Frame

A total of 211 hard news articles were analyzed for this study. With respect to national

coverage of Exxon Valdez, the analysis examined 166 articles from March 25, 1989 until March

25, 1990. This period covered the day after the oil spill until a year after the impact. Of the 410

articles initially retrieved from the three newspapers, 230 were taken out because they did not fit

within the specified time frame. One article was removed because it was a duplicate, and

another article was removed because it was irrelevant. Twelve additional articles that were

editorials were removed since the researcher intended to obtain true news story counts. Since the

BP crisis was recent, accurate data was only available through the end of 2007. Because of the

limits on available, accurate information, this comparison began with the day after each incident

and concluded with information one year after the impact. Therefore, in order to make an

accurate comparison, coverage of both events used the aforementioned time frame.

With respect to national coverage of BP's Prudhoe Bay, the analysis examined 45 articles

from March 3, 2006 until March 3, 2007. This period covered the day after the oil leak from a

corroded pipeline was found until a year after the impact. Of the 102 articles initially retrieved,

20 were taken out because they did not fit within the specified time frame. Twenty-five articles

were removed because they were duplicates, and another article was removed because it was

irrelevant. Five articles were taken out because they were short blurbs found in the summary









A company acting responsibly will have an integrated approach to CSR across a variety
of functional areas, including the financial, environmental and social dimensions. The
social responsibility issue must not be marginalized, but should be part of an overall
management and business strategy recognized and promoted at board level. (p. 22)

In 2004, the CSR Academy, sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry, began

providing education, training and development for managers of both private and public

organizations (Czerny, 2004). This training is focused on helping managers incorporate CSR

activities into their core business strategies (Czerny, 2004). When CSR activities are

incorporated into the core of business strategies, there is often an increase in the level of job

satisfaction because employees feel part of a team, often resulting in an increase in production

(Lamb & McKee, 2005). A report by The Work Foundation and The Virtuous Circle found

"organizations that integrated CSR activities into the heart of their business strategy could

outperform other companies by up to 40% in profitability and productivity" (Czerny, 2004, p. 7).

When it comes to dealing with a crisis, it is clear that by incorporating CSR into the core

business strategy, practitioners can make their jobs a little easier.

The traditional role of public relations practitioners, press agentry or media relations, was

to communicate an organization's messages to the media. Although this role is not the only one

practitioners play today, it is just as important as it has ever been. In addition to the framing

done by the media, Zoch and Molleda (2006) stated the following:

... public relations practitioners who act as sources, whether or not they are public
information officers or policy actors, also contribute to the framing of a story presented to
the media. They do this by highlighting or withholding specific information about a
subject or issue from those covering the story. (p. 283)

Using framing, public relations practitioners package an issue or message in a certain way

for the media so that they then take that packaged information and use it in news stories (Zoch &

Molleda, 2006). Taking this into account, media frames are sometimes pre-developed frames

from public relations practitioners. In other words, "when media outlets are provided a carefully









corporation's social obligations are. According to Cutlip et al. (2006), those social obligations

include the following:

Provide a stable source of employment, with a visible commitment to diversity in hiring,
promoting, and compensating workers at all levels; operate profitably and provide a
reasonable return on investment to its shareholders; establish and meet strategic
objectives that provide for long-term growth and competitiveness; voluntarily comply
with-or exceed-government regulations regarding health, safety, and the environment;
set aside a reasonable amount of yearly revenue for philanthropic purposes; maintain
comparable operating standards in ever country where the company does business;
participate actively in public policy processes affecting the company, its industry, and
other stakeholders who are part of the "public interest." (pp. 390-391)

In addition to the above mentioned aspects of CSR, organizations must show

transparency at all times, be accountable for its actions, build partnerships and help society

develop the capacity to help themselves.

The United Nations' Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) has also formulated

general principles of CSR such as contributing to development, exceeding legal requirements,

enhancing social protection and strengthening employment opportunities for groups with specific

needs, sharing skills and knowledge with local businesses and employees, and taking into

consideration groups other than shareholders, such as employees, managers, suppliers,

customers, competitors and local communities and governments (United Nations, 1998). More

specifically, the CSD pointed out that "a firm is generally considered socially responsible when

it seeks to reduce social disintegration or when it contributes to social cohesion" (United

Nations, 1998, 5). Having general principles such as these is a start, but the difficulty lies is in

identifying what exactly serves the public interest while at the same time meets shareholder

demands or government obligations (Cutlip et al., 2006).

With so much talk about CSR, it is first necessary to understand the history of CSR and

how it got to be considered such an important part of our capitalistic system. Literature shows

that CSR has been around since the 18th century when business owners showed their duty to









surveyed in seven different countries to determine whether their companies executed some type

of corporate social responsibility practice (Smith, 2007). The study found the following:

About 80 percent of HR professionals in those countries [Australia, Brazil, Canada,
China, India, Mexico, United States] said their organizations participated in practices that
could be considered socially responsible and that ranged from donating to local charities
to monitoring global fair labor standards. (Smith, 2007, p. 30)

The most commonly reported CSR practices were charitable donations and fundraising,

followed by employee volunteering (Smith, 2007). The report also said that many professionals

believed that engaging in CSR programs can have a positive impact on enhancing an

organization's public image (Smith, 2007). However, as Smith (2007) pointed out, "there is no

standard for measuring the success of an organization's CSR efforts, making companies partially

dependent on how well the organization communicates its CSR practices to its stakeholders, the

local community and society at large" (p. 30). Although conventional financial measurement

and historic performance have been used as ways to measure CSR efforts, these approaches only

scratch the surface. In its CSR report, the WBCSD introduced new approaches to managing,

measuring, monitoring and assessing CSR such as good practice networks, internal and external

surveys, benchmarking things such as past performance and industry standards, accreditation

processes, social screening services and rating systems, site-specific assessments and analytical

frameworks (WBCSD, 1999). Since there is no CSR standard, the effective communication of

CSR activities is key to being considered a socially responsible company and enhancing

reputation, which may ultimately help in averting or mitigating a crisis.

For companies to be considered socially responsible, they must do more than demonstrate

good values; they must contribute to sustainable development. Sustainable development is "a

three-legged stool for profits, people and the planet where without one leg the rest fail" (Fox,

2007, p. 44). Fox (2007) argued that although the profits aspect of sustainable development can









might be summed up in the word 'sustainability"' (p. 4). In light of this, CSR has also been

called corporate sustainability and corporate citizenship (Fox, 2007). Taking into account that

CSR is supposed to contribute to sustainable development, it is important to note the three main

principles of sustainability: profits, people and the planet (Fox, 2007). "Companies that invest in

all three successfully are heralded on lists such as the Corporate Citizenship list and the Most

Admired Companies list, and vie to get accepted onto the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index

(DJSWI)" (Fox, 2003, p. 45). Since CSR allows for many different operationalizations, for the

purpose of this study, it took on the definition of contributing to sustainable development.

Corporations must be aware of how its business affects the marketplace, the environment,

the workplace and the community. Businesses that disregard the importance of CSR initiatives

can severely damage their corporate reputations and the impact can be devastating (WBCSD,

1999). For example, unwanted outcomes include consumer boycotts, loss of employee and

community support, extra spending to correct past mistakes, litigation, legislation, regulation and

negative publicity (Lamb & McKee, 2006). These unwanted outcomes oftentimes can result in

crises, "which threatens the corporate image" (Dean, 2004, p. 192). Although proponents of

CSR have argued that socially responsible business practices consistently benefits the bottom

line, critics have claimed that CSR is just "'a cloak' to mask self-interest" (Business the

Beneficent, 2006, 6). With so much debate surrounding CSR, it is oftentimes difficult to make

a case supporting either side. Jonker and Marberg (2007) assert the following:

The dialogue surrounding corporate social responsibility and the role that corporations
ought to play in society persists as the world focuses more and more on its dwindling
natural resources, changing climate, poverty, lack of social cohesion, corporate scandals
and other compelling issues that connect organizations to their constituencies and the
environment. (p. 108)

With CSR on the top of the public policy agenda, there has been a shift in what society

expects from businesses today. Organizations are being forced to behave in a way society finds









given the specifics of the information, it was impossible to determine what sources the media

used predominantly in each case because of the presence of the "other" category. The "other"

category encompassed any number of sources ranging from an anonymous source to Joe

Schmoe, and because of this variety, the credibility and accountability of each source was

undeterminable.

The first source cited in each article was coded in order to determine which source was

chosen to guide each article. Almost half of the Exxon articles cited a government source first.

As would be expected, since the first source cited in Exxon articles was a government source,

nearly half of the Exxon articles quoted a government source first. Direct quotes provided

additional support to the first source cited. A likely explanation for this result could be the

federal case that was initiated because of Exxon's oil spill. During the period of time analyzed,

the federal case was in its discovery and fact finding phase, of which the result was an influx of

information. This information was open to the public and could have been a likely source of

interesting information to the media. Additionally, in many instances that Exxon was called

upon to comment on the crisis, it declined to make a statement. This may have been a precaution

due to the ongoing legal battle, however, staying silent may have hurt its credibility. As Zoch

and Molleda (2006) found, depending on which sources are included in media coverage,

messages will be framed in a way that reflects the underlying communication message from the

respective source. In the case of Exxon, it was clear that government sources were

predominantly chosen and that they put the crisis narrative in to place from the beginning.

Almost half of the BP articles cited a corporate source first. In similar form, nearly half

of the BP articles quoted a corporate source first. A likely explanation for this result could be

BP's desire to get its information out first. By positioning themselves as an accurate, reliable




Full Text

PAGE 1

1 ROLE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILIT Y (CSR) IN SURVIVING A CRISIS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS By JENINE Y. SPOLIANSKY A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

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2 2008 Jenine Y. Spoliansky

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3 To my parents, for your unconditi onal love and support; and to Dr. Mitrook, for your unwavering encouragement and help.

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank m y parents for being the inspiring people they are and for all of their hard work and sacrifices. I thank my supervisory committee me mbers, Dr. Kiousis and Dr. Molleda, for their assistance and direction. I give special thanks to my wonderful supervisory committee chair, Dr. Mitrook, for guiding me and putting up with me. Finally, I thank all of my professors for helping me along my journey.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........7LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................................8ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................9 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................102 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................15History and Theories of Corporat e Social Responsibility (CSR)........................................... 15Role of Media in Portraying CSR Efforts and Crisis Situations............................................23Crisis Communication and Management................................................................................ 30Public Relations Practitioners Role in CSR and Crisis Situations........................................ 32Link between CSR and Crises................................................................................................ 383 METHODOLOGY................................................................................................................. 42Method....................................................................................................................................42Events and Pre-Crisis Status................................................................................................... 45Irresponsible Corporation: Exxon................................................................................... 45Responsible Corporation: BP..........................................................................................48Data Collection.......................................................................................................................50Sampling Units................................................................................................................. ......50Sampling Frame......................................................................................................................51Analyzed Dimensions.............................................................................................................52Data Analysis Strategy...........................................................................................................544 RESULTS...............................................................................................................................555 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION.................................................................................... 60Implications................................................................................................................... .........67Limitations.................................................................................................................... ..........69Suggestions for Future Research............................................................................................ 70

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6 APPENDIX A CODE BOOK...................................................................................................................... ...72B CODE SHEET..................................................................................................................... ...74LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................76BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................82

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table page B-1 Code Sheet.........................................................................................................................74

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8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4-1 Tone of Exxon Media Coverage Over Time...................................................................... 594-2 Tone of BP Media Coverage Over Time........................................................................... 59

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9 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Mast er of Arts in Mass Communication ROLE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILIT Y (CSR) IN SURVIVING A CRISIS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS By Jenine Y. Spoliansky August 2008 Chair: Michael Mitrook Major: Mass Communication We conducted a comparative content analysis of both Exxon and BPs media coverage during a crisis to determine how favorably each company was portrayed. Generally, research has shown the better a reputation an organization has prior to a crisis, the more sympathetic the media are toward the company in terms of covera ge. Using a quantitativ e content analysis of 211 newspaper articles over the period of one year the tone of media c overage, CSR portrayal, news sources and media frames were analyze d. We found that although the coverage of BP became more positive earlier in the crisis, there wa s no identifiable pattern that the tone of media coverage in a crisis changes over time. We also found that the media predominantly used primary news frames, such as health, human interest, the economy and the environment. Furthermore, we found that the media relied mainly on corporate and government sources. Finally, both Exxon and BP were equally portrayed as being both socially responsible and irresponsible, l eading to the conclusion that there was no significant differe nce in the amount of favorable media coverage a socially responsible company received during a crisis.

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10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Too often, m anagement makes decisions withou t considering the consequences of those decisions When management makes such de cisions, many publics develop into activist groups who actively oppose the organization. Opposition typically results in litigation, legislation, regulation, and nega tive publicity that co st the organization a great deal of money. Even if publics do not organize to oppose decisions, management has a responsibility to alleviate ne gative consequences of its actionssuch as pollution, risky products, discrimination, economic hardship, or a dangerous workplac e. Recognizing and alleviating these consequences is the essen ce of social responsi bility, and the public relations function is the management champion of social responsibility (Lamb & McKee, 2006, p. 34). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a topic of in creasing interest to many and has been firmly placed on the global public policy agenda. It has been argued that governments and their international economic organizations have failed in their attempts to rid the planet of under-development and poverty (Hopki ns, 2006, ). As a result, many organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a Geneva-based global association of companies, have been created with the goal of providing businesses all over the world the opportunity to contribut e to sustainable human progress, as well as a sustainable future for developing nations and nati ons in transition (World Busi ness Council for Sustainable Development, 2008). Although no formal definition of corporate soci al responsibility (CSR) exists, the WBCSD defines it as the continuing commitment by busin ess to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the local community and society at large (WBCSD, 1999, p. 3). The European Commission defines CSR as a concept whereby co mpanies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in thei r interactions with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis (Newell & Frynas, 2007, p. 673). Esler (2007) asserts th at the CSR acronym, a catch-all for everything from clean, green practic es to ethical behavior and nurturing employees,

PAGE 11

11 might be summed up in the word sustainability (p. 4). In light of this, CSR has also been called corporate sustainability and corporate citizensh ip (Fox, 2007). Taking into account that CSR is supposed to contribute to sustainable deve lopment, it is important to note the three main principles of sustainability: profits, people and th e planet (Fox, 2007). Com panies that invest in all three successfully are heralded on lists such as the Corporate Citizenship list and the Most Admired Companies list, and vie to get accepted onto the Dow Jones Sustai nability World Index (DJSWI) (Fox, 2003, p. 45). Since CSR allows fo r many different operationalizations, for the purpose of this study, it took on the definition of contributing to sustainable development. Corporations must be aware of how its busin ess affects the marketpl ace, the environment, the workplace and the community. Businesses that disregard the importance of CSR initiatives can severely damage their cor porate reputations and the impact can be devastating (WBCSD, 1999). For example, unwanted outcomes includ e consumer boycotts, loss of employee and community support, extra spending to correct past mistakes, litigation, legislation, regulation and negative publicity (Lamb & McKee, 2006). These unwanted outcomes oftentimes can result in crises, which threatens the corporate image (Dean, 2004, p. 192). Although proponents of CSR have argued that socially responsible business practices c onsistently benefits the bottom line, critics have claimed that CSR is just a cloak to mask self-interest (Business the Beneficent, 2006, ). With so much debate su rrounding CSR, it is oftentimes difficult to make a case supporting either side. Jonker a nd Marberg (2007) assert the following: The dialogue surrounding corporat e social responsibility and the role that corporations ought to play in society pers ists as the world focuses mo re and more on its dwindling natural resources, changing cl imate, poverty, lack of social cohesion, corporate scandals and other compelling issues that connect or ganizations to their constituencies and the environment. (p. 108) With CSR on the top of the public policy agenda, there has been a shift in what society expects from businesses today. Or ganizations are being forced to behave in a way society finds

PAGE 12

12 acceptable (WBCSD, 1999). More responsibility is being placed on companies to alleviate negative consequences of its actionssuch as pollution, risky products, discrimination, economic hardship, or a dangerous workplace (Lamb & McKee, 2006, p. 34). The CSR agenda has shifted from that of philanthropic giving to creating initiatives ai med at improving human rights, employee rights, the environment and comm unity involvement (Barber, 2001). We have moved from away from an era wh ere businesses were considered socially responsible by solely writing checks for specific causes, to an era where businesses now have legal and social obligations to the societies in which they operate Corporate social responsibility now includes everything from charitable donations, to voluntary expenditures on environmental protection, to paying Third World workers First World wages (Business the Beneficent, 2006, ). One of the keys to success for any cor poration is building and maintaining positive relationships within the commun ity. Although the CSR movement offers ways for companies to reduce negative externalities that result from decisions they make, it can also offer ways for companies to produce positive externalities such as increases in education, health outcomes and community development (Hamilton, 2003). Across i ndustries, there are numerous corporations that have engaged in various so cially responsible ac tivities. Many compan ies boast about these initiatives, however, it is the media that plays a big role in maintaini ng or shifting corporate reputations. The bottom line is that a corporation cannot expect to win the will of its publics if it does not do something for them in return. Social responsibility is extremely valuable to a corporation when it comes to building and maintaining relationships, building and maintain ing an image or reputat ion, managing risk and hiring and retaining capable employees. CSR i ssues can range from human rights, employee rights and disaster relief to environmental protection, suppl ier relations and community

PAGE 13

13 involvement. Thinking about CSR, it is important for businesses to pay attention not only to profits, but also to its reputation. In order to create a good reputation or uphold an existing one, corporations must be able to address societal needs and generate media attention about the good it is doing. But can being socially responsible help organizations avert crisis situations and/or recover quicker from such situations? Disaster relief, or as it is more often called, crisis communication, is the focus of this study, as it may play an enormous role in reputation management. Crisis situations are defined as a combination of assessments of the crisis type and modifiers (assessments of performance history and crisis severity) (C oombs, 2006, p. 183). In terms of th is study, corporate crisis took on the meaning of an unexpected, nonroutine event that creates uncertainty and threatens an organizations priority goals (Dean, 2004, p. 192). Crisis management is of extreme value to an organization, and it is the public re lations practitioners role to ma nage an organization in a time of crisis. Research has shown that, in general, a practitioners job during a crisis is easier when an organization is socially responsible and that pre-crisis CSR has profound implications for crisis-stricken organiza tions (Ulmer, 2001). The goal of this study was to conduct a comparative content analysis between Exxon and BP with respect to how favorably and quickly th ey can recover from an organizational crisis. Generally, research has shown the better reputation an organization ha s prior to a crisis, the more sympathetic the media are toward the company in terms of coverage (Simokos & Kurzbard, 1994; Pearson & Clair, 1998; Ulmer, 2001; Klein & Dawar, 2004). Ultimately, this enables the company exhibiting CSR to gain community activ ist support from the favorable projections of the media, thus resolving the crisis more expediently. The press has often been described as the fourth estate to the government. It is no surprise then, that social responsibility theory states that

PAGE 14

14 the press acts as a watchdog and advocate for pub lic interest (Baran & Davis, 2003). Since the media plays a large role in creating public discou rse, the research analyzed newspaper articles covering each companys crisis to see how the me dia portrayed each organi zation in its time of crisis.

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15 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW History and Theories of Corporate Social Resp onsibility (CSR) Over thirty years ago, Vota w (1972) wrote the following: Corporate social responsibility means so mething, but not always the same thing to everybody. To some it conveys the idea of lega l responsibility or li ability, to others, it means socially responsible behavior in the ethical sense; to stil l others, the meaning transmitted is that of responsible for in a casual mode; many simply equate it with a charitable contribution; some take it to mean socially conscious; many of those who embrace it more fervently see it as a mere synonym for legitimacy in the context of belonging or being proper or valid; few will s ee a sort of fiduciary duty imposing higher standards of behavior on business men than on citizens at large. (p. 25) While CSR appears to be widely recognized and accepted it is still more of an idea, a vague concept, in the discourse stage being debated by academia, business and government in different arenas and using various vocabularies (Jonker & Marberg, 2007, p. 108). Although CSR may mean different things to different people, Fiona Harv ey, environmental correspondent for the Financial Times, said the following: CSR is a buzzword at the moment. Every company wants to talk about it but many do not talk about it very well. My attention is only grabbed by concrete examples. Many businesses think that merely complying with environmental regulations is CSR, when they are only doing what they must by law. ( PRWeek UK 2005, p. 21) Additionally, Zoellick (2007), President of the World Bank, stated the following about the varying definitions of CSR: [They] influence the dialogue between govern ments, private sector and civil society, and this may carry different implications among various parties regarding the legitimacy, obligations and impact of corporate social responsibility standards. For example, one has to be careful in understanding and defining the term CSR because CSR is sometimes mistakenly equated with either corporate philanthropy or simple compliance with law. (p.1) Although there are widely differing definitions of social responsibility, there are basic tenets of a corporations duty to the society or community it serves Federal legislation, judicial rulings and even the press of public opinion have all helped to form a consensus of what a

PAGE 16

16 corporations social obligations are. According to Cutlip et al. (2006), those social obligations include the following: Provide a stable source of employment, with a visible commitment to diversity in hiring, promoting, and compensating workers at all levels; operate profitably and provide a reasonable return on investment to its sh areholders; establish and meet strategic objectives that provide for long-term growth and competitiveness; voluntarily comply withor exceedgovernment regulations regard ing health, safety, and the environment; set aside a reasonable amount of yearly revenue for philanthropic purposes; maintain comparable operating standards in ever country where the company does business; participate actively in public policy pro cesses affecting the company, its industry, and other stakeholders who are part of the public interest. (pp. 390-391) In addition to the above mentioned asp ects of CSR, organizations must show transparency at all times, be accountable for it s actions, build partners hips and help society develop the capacity to help themselves. The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) has also formulated general principles of CSR such as contributi ng to development, exceeding legal requirements, enhancing social protection and strengthening employment opportuni ties for groups with specific needs, sharing skills and knowledge with loca l businesses and employees, and taking into consideration groups other than shareholders, such as employees, managers, suppliers, customers, competitors and local communities and governments (United Nations, 1998). More specifically, the CSD pointed out th at a firm is generally consider ed socially responsible when it seeks to reduce social disintegration or when it contribut es to social cohesion (United Nations, 1998, ). Having general principles such as these is a start, but the difficulty lies is in identifying what exactly serves the public inte rest while at the same time meets shareholder demands or government obligations (Cutlip et al., 2006). With so much talk about CSR, it is first n ecessary to understand the history of CSR and how it got to be considered such an important pa rt of our capitalistic syst em. Literature shows that CSR has been around since the 18th century when business owne rs showed their duty to

PAGE 17

17 society by giving to charity (Ste iner & Steiner, 2003). Anot her popular view is that the obligations firms face today are a re sult of the Period of Protests and Empowerment (1965-1985), (Cutlip et al., 2006). This period is cl assified as student and activist protests against environmental pollution, racial and ge nder discrimination, concentration of special interest wealth and power, the Vietnam war, governmental abuse of the public trust, and consequently, and increasing recognition of social responsibility and more responsive organizations (Cutlip et al., 2006, p. 95). Still others believe that businesses did not begin paying attention to its social consciousness until the mid-1940s, and only shortly thereafter was there scholarly interest in the subject (Pratt, 2003). The use of the term CSR first appeared regula rly in the press in the 1970s, with stories focusing on consumer advocate Ralph Nadar, pollution, and shareholder actions surrounding CSR debates (Hamilton, 2003, p. 5). However, CSR is said to have its roots in the writings of U.S. Steel founder Andrew Carnegie. In his writi ngs, Carnegie articulated two principles that he thought were fundamental for capitalism to work: charity and stewardship (Freeman & Liedtka, 1991). As corporations grew in both magnitude and power, societ y put more pressure on these corporations to put human rights issues first (Steiner & Steiner, 2003). As concerns about large corporations and their power came to the forefront in the early 20th century, the broad principles of charity and stewardship helped to shape thin king about CSR (Freeman & Liedtka, 1991). The principle of charity requires mo re fortunate members of society to assist those less fortunate members, and the principle of stewardship re quires businesses and wealthy people to see themselves as caretakers of resources a nd of their property (Asongu, 2007). By the 20th century, CSR was practiced more widely in the United States than anywhere else in the world (Steiner & Steiner, 2003).

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18 Smith (1994) identified specific milestones that contributed to the evolution of CSR. Among them was the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, which according to Kotler and Lee (2005), did the following: brought into serious question the ph ilanthropy of the 1970s and 1980s, where corporations tended to support social issues least associated with their line of business, give to a variety of social causes, and turn over management of their giving to separate foundations. (p. 7) Kotler and Lee (2005) asserted that when Exxon needed environmental expertise and support, management had no such people to turn to because relationships with this group had never been nurtured, nonetheless established. Now into the 21st century, the trend in CSR is moving toward making long-term commitments to specific social i ssues and initiatives, providing more than cash contributions, sourci ng funds from business units as well as philanthropic budgets, forming strategic alliances, and doing all of this in a way that also advances business goals (Kotler & Lee, 2005, p. 7). Furtherm ore, the trend in CSR is moving toward making a stronger obligati on to protect and enhance global society (Steiner & Steiner, 2003). Consequently, CSR has long been seen by academics and managers alike as the missing link in capitalism (Freeman & Liedtka, 1991). Newell and Frynas (2007) contested that CSR emerged among leading firms and business schools as a public relations tool, a way to deflect criticism engage critics and potentially capitalise on emergi ng business opportunities associat ed with doing, and being seen to be doing, good (p. 670). Today, the use of CS R has changed to reflect our changing society and economy. At present, corpor ate strategies are al igned with the pressing need to tackle poverty and social exclusion across the majority world (Newell & Frynas, 2007, p. 670). Although there isnt complete agre ement on what the concept of CS R fully entails, issues such

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19 as environmental damage, improper treatment of workers, and fau lty production that inconveniences or endangers customers are hi ghlighted in the media (Asongu, 2007, p. 12). The concept of CSR includes the following components: economics, legal, ethics and corporate philanthropy (Hall, 2006). The field of CSR is comprise d of many different theories and approaches. In order to understand what they ar e, as well as the implications, it is necessary to classify them in to the following four groups: (1) instrumental theories, in which it is assumed that the corporation is an instrument for wea lth creation and that this is its sole social responsibility; (2) political theories, where the social power of th e corporation is emphasized, specifically in its relationship w ith society and its responsibility in the political arena associated with power; (3) integrative theories, which ar gues that businesses depend on society for its growth and continuity and even for the existence of the business itself; and (4) ethical theories, based on the notion that firms should accept social responsibility as an ethical obligation above any other consideration (Garriga & Mel, 2004). In other words, instrumental theories focus on achieving economic objectives through various social activities, while political theories assert that the social responsibility of a business arises from the amount of social power they have (Garriga & Mel, 2004). In addi tion, integrative theories basica lly focus on the integration of social demands, while ethical theories focus on doing the right thing in order to achieve a good society (Garriga & Mel, 2004). From their study, Garriga and Mel (2004) concluded the following: Most of the current CSR theories are fo cused on four main aspects: (1) meeting objectives that produce long-term benefits, (2) using business power in a responsible way, (3) integrating social demands and (4 ) contributing to a good society by doing what is ethically correct. (p. 65) Although what is considered ethical will de pend on the accepted norms of a particular group, organization, culture, etc., it is important to have a broad sense of what it means to be

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20 ethical. Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness a nd wrongness of certain actions a nd to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions (Dictiona ry, 2008, ). Although most classical theories of ethics such as utilitarianism and deontology use different approaches, it is essential to keep in mind that they are all value-driv en. Therefore, taking that in to account, what a corporation considers ethical can change based on things su ch as corporate philosophy, goals, objectives and/or strategy. Although many theories about CSR exist, Wood (1991) argued that only advances toward a theory of CSR have been made (Pratt, 2003). Social responsibil ity practices can be identified by looking at four traditional arguments made for CSR: moral (or ethical), reputation (or brand image), license to operate (or legal), and su stainability (Asongu, 2007, p. 5). Although these categories are not absolute, they do capture the essence of most mainstream CSR practices and seem to be most relevant for public relations practice (David et al., 2005, p. 294). Some believe that corporations should be focused on the econo mic concept of supply and demand and that the government should act as a protector, creating regul ations that safeguard ci tizens, society and the environment (Asongu, 2007). For example, Friedm an (1962) insisted that in a democratic society, government was the only legitimate vehi cle for addressing social concerns (Asongu, 2007, p. 13). Others believe that businesses have a moral duty to cont ribute to sustainable development, which meets the needs of the pres ent without compromising the ability of future generations to meet its ow n needs (Esler, 2007, p. 4). A companys level of CSR will depend on its si ze, level of diversification, research and development, advertising, government sales, consum er income labor market conditions and stage in the industry life cycle (McWilliams, 2001). Fr om these hypotheses, McWilliams (2001) was

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21 able to conclude that there is an ideal level of CSR, which managers can determine via cost-benefit analysis, and that there is a neutral relationship betw een CSR and financial performance. Based on her study, McWilliams ( 2001) found that a firm perspective theory (Jensen, 1988) to CSR is based on the assumpti on that managers usually attempt to maximize profits. Based on this perspective, CSR can be view ed as a form of investment for a corporation. However, critics have argued that theres little if any empirical evidence that the market can reliably deliver both short-term financial returns and long-term social benefits (Business the Beneficent, 2006, ). In addition, it can be argu ed that social responsibility works for some companies and not for others (Business the Benefi cent, 2006). The mark et niche for relatively responsible firms may be limited. And a responsib le firms success isnt guaranteed to last. Even some celebrated exemplars, such as Ben a nd Jerrys and Body Shop International, have run into financial difficulties lately (Business the Beneficent, 2006, ). Nonetheless, CSR should be part of a comp anys daily business. To be a socially responsible company, business practices must go beyond the bottom-line and extend to the community and society at large. Many corporations have sustainability ob jectives requiring that all activities have an overall posit ive impact on people and the planet. IKEA, for example, is one of those companies. IKEA incorporates social as well as environmental goals into its strategic planning. Barner (2007) made this connection: Geographically, IKEA focuses on where it can make a difference. We obviously cant save 250 million children from exploitation, but changing the lives of 80,000 children in, say, Uttar Pradesh is still a big accomplishment. To help us in these tasks, weve partnered with NGOs such as Save the Children and UNICEF as well as the WWF. (p. 60) Being a furniture supplier that uses a larg e amount of wood, IKEA also focuses a great deal on sustainable forestry (Barner, 2007). Alth ough IKEA is able to keep prices low and meet CSR goals, the director of co rporate communications said th at the biggest problem in

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22 embedding CSR has been communicating to our pe ople what were doing (Barner, 2007, p. 60). It is clear that CSR stories are a great way to communicate to stakeholders what companies are doing, but companies must be able to relate these stories to various media outlets in some sort of meaningful way. Although the media can extol and condemn an organization for its CSR efforts or lack thereof, there is also no policing agent or re gulatory agency that can monitor and punish corporations that act in a socia lly irresponsible manner. While organizations such as the United Nations, CorpWatch and the International Chamber of Commerce have developed things such as corporate citizenship initiatives guiding principles and developm ent goals for CSR, the fact remains that they are not regulatory instrume nts and instead rely on voluntary compliance. Furthermore, it is difficult to quantify and measure the progress a corporation makes on CSR issues. As Jay Whitehead, Publisher of CRO Magazine pointed out, comparing peer companies makes for a better gauge of pe rformance (Campbell, 2008, ). For instance, looking at citizenship efforts of companies in the chemical, energy, financial, media and utilities industries, CRO Magazine compared different companies environm ental, social, governance and financial performance, and measures their track records against industry peers (Campbell, 2008, ). Since CSR efforts vary from industry to indus try, and journalists have had a difficult time of understanding the motivations and impacts of CSR, comparing peer companies may provide the media with certain guidelines when making comparative ratings, as well as allow them how to cover the topic more accurately and on a larger scale. It seems that the more global media attention that has been given to CSR, the more corporations have begun to realize how important it is in reputation management, averting and/or m itigating crises, and ultimately, to its success as a business.

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23 Role of Media in Portraying CS R Efforts and Crisis Situations Although the history of CSR m ay be as old as th e history of business, it is in recent years that reporters covering CSR stories across the gl obe have tended to focus their attention on community, health and environmental issues (Hamilton, 2003). Hamiltons (2003) study found that there was persistent media coverage of CSR in the 1980s and 1990s, reflecting the notion that CSR became part of the expected costs of doing business (p. 5). Furthermore, media coverage of CSR increased notic eably in 2000, rose again in 2001, and persisted to grow in 2002 (Hamilton, 2003). From this data, it is evident that concept of CSR is stil l evolving and has been gaining media attention over the last 30 or so years. In a study conducted by Canela and Vivart a (2006), 54 newspaper articles between October 2003 and September 2004 were analyzed to determine how CSR was portrayed in the media and what type of oversight the media exercises over corporations that apply CSR initiatives. The study found that 60% of the text s included discussions that were not focused on issues related to CSR and that 40% had a clear goal of addressing the i ssue (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). It is interesting to note, however, that most of the stories analyzed contained terms associated with CSR instead of actual reflections on the issue (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). The study concluded that 23.2% of th e stories focused on only one or several events regarding CSR, 24.5% of the stories offered a deeper analysis of th e issue, and the rest of the articles mentioned the expression social respons ibility and its equivalents (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). Therefore, the analysis of the coverage in th is study pointed out that the vague use of the expression social responsibility and its equivale nts were far more widespread than were indepth reflections of the issue (Canela & Vivarta, 2006). In other words, the sample indicated that newspapers publish strictly factual stories (events), and, when more in-depth coverage is sought, the articles offer a narrow line of th inking (Canela & Vivart a, 2006, p. 101). Again,

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24 perhaps the reason for this was that most journalists lacked k nowledge concerning the complexity of CSR, or maybe they did not consider it important enough an issue to cover indepth. This study concluded that the media had a superficial unde rstanding of CSR, that when in-depth coverage was provided it lacked a critical analysis and/or pluralis tic view of the subject and that the concept was often confused with soci al action (Canela & Vivart a, 2006). This points not only to the need for improved coverage, but also for journalists and media outlets to gain a greater mastery of CSR. Canela and Vivartas (2006) study clearly indicated that the press has yet to assume the role of CSR regulator and that CSR has been incorporated on the agenda of public sphere discussions in a mostly neutral light (pp. 104-105). It is obvious that journalists have a great deal to lear n about CSR and its value to capitalistic societies. Just as CSR efforts vary from industry to i ndustry, CSR coverage va ries from media outlet to media outlet. Hamiltons (2003) study found that the business press focused more on financial aspects of CSR while general interest papers focused more on CSR using entertainment frames such as scandals, crises, activists and ethical issues. Furthermore, he found that CSR discussion on the Internet focused more on issues such as boycotts, human rights and corporate codes and that broadcast outlets did not even cover CSR (Hamilton, 2003). Perhaps this is because broadcast news is heavily focused on entertaining stories of interest to wide audiences, criteria that CSR stories fail to meet (Hamilton, 2003, p. 8). Hamilton (2003) offered an effective way to increase the quantity and quality of CSR coverage: lowering the costs of coverage. He also added that the following things can also help reduce the costs of CSR coverage and attract journalists: make a companys ac tions more visible, highlight th e human interest aspects of a CSR project, develop universally accepted CS R definitions and standards, and provide

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25 journalists with the opportuni ty to attend CSR conferences and read CSR reports (Hamilton, 2003). Just as it may be optimistic to think that the media draws attention to positive CSR efforts, it may be just as cynical to think that it draws at tention to crisis situations. However, as Raboy and Dagenais (1994) argued, the me dia defines, represents and enga ges in crisis situations. The authors argued that the media plays a role in de fining crises and also structures them as public issues (Raboy & Dagenais, 1994). Furthermore, th ey claimed that crises do not exist in the world. They exist in discourse (Raboy & Dage nais, 1994, ). Since th e media creates this discourse, then it can be said that they both socially construct and reflect crisis situations. Evans (2007) further supported the claim that crises ar e socially constructed through media discourse by stating that whether an organi zation is involved in a political social or economic crisis, the crisis itself is often manmade. Pearson and Clair (1998) emphasized how influential the media have become in framing their perspective of a crisis, pointing out that they have a predisposition to reinforce existing public attitudes. The media can also affect the way issues are framed through the choices of journalists who cover a story, a nd those who may be chosen as sources (Kosicki & Pan, 1996, as cited in Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 283). In other words, depending on which sources are included in media coverage, messages will be framed in a way that reflects the underlying communication message from the respective source. Therefore, by using information subsidies and positioning themselves as an accurate, reliable and readily available source, public relations practitioners have a higher ch ance of getting their messages to the media (Zoch & Molleda, 2006). Although information subsidies increase the likelihood that the information will be consumed by the journalists and used in media content (Turk, 1986, p. 3, as cited in Zoch &

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26 Molleda, 2006, p. 285), Burns (1998) study found that just because it is se nt to media outlets does not mean that it will be opened or used. The findings of his study suggest that the most important aspect of an informati on subsidy is the source, that is who or what organization sent it, rather than the content of the subsidy itself (Burns, 1998). Th is suggests that being credible and having a solid reputation may impact whether or not an organizations information subsidy is used by the media. Furthermore, an understand ing of media needs also helps a source to get information published or to get air play (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 290). In the case of media framing, it is important to note that it takes place in discourse and concerns how an idea is justified, legitimized and talked about (Jonker & Marberg, 2007, p. 116). Specifically, Pearson and Clair (1998) asserted that organizations ge nerally held in public favor before a crisis will be allowed more latitu de regarding their crisis management efforts; those generally disfavored before the crisis will be j udged with closer scruti ny (p. 73). Both in terms of a crisis and as a business in general, the media have the power of framing an organization as socially responsib le or irresponsible, therefore in fluencing publicly held beliefs and attitudes of that organization. In addition, publicly held attitudes about a company have a propensity to impact the medias perceptions, and ultimately, media coverage (Pearson & Clair, 1998). Based on this, it is not implausible to presume that good CSR tends to bias medias perceptions of an organization fa cing a crisis in a positive way. Although the media plays a large role in bringing crisis situations to the limeli ght, they cannot always be blamed. Organizations that create crises must be held accountable. It may be possible that being a socially responsible company may be helpful in crisis management. Media coverage of CSR on a global level va ries depending on the country. A study done by Echo Research in 2001 revealed that while CS R is a hot topic in some countries, the same

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27 may not be true in other countries (Scott, 2003). The study reported that coverage of CSR in print media in the United Kingdom rose 131% in 2001 compared to 2000, and coverage of CSR in the United States fell by 40% over the same period (Scott, 2003). The study also showed that in that same time period Germany saw an 8% in crease in media coverage and Frances media coverage of CSR rose 125% (Scott, 2003). The repor t attributed the lack of interest in CSR in Germany to the countrys existing regulatory co ntrols (Scott, 2003, p. 9). Scott (2003) went on to say that despite the drop in the level of cove rage of CSR in the U.S., the report claims that the existing coverage was more favorab le than in the past (p. 9). Since getting positive media coverage on CSR efforts can be difficult, many corporations voluntarily publish social responsibility reports and make them available to the public. The problem with self-reporting is th at editors may simply suspect that corporate ethics is an oxymoron and be reluctant to trust compa ny claims about CSR (Hamilton, 2003, p. 5). Additionally, company-controlled communications are not as credib le or influential as media publicity is (Dean, 2004). Not all publicity is go od, however. Negative publicity can damage an organizations reputation, and it can particularly be harmful when trying to mitigate a crisis. Unfortunately though, since the media have a preference for reporting negative news, companies have a better chance of getting bad press rather than positive press (Dean, 2004). Since the media essentially creates public disc ourse, and discourse it self constructs and reflects crisis situations, the argument that medi a can have a great amount of control over how organizations are portrayed in these situations is valid. In fact, Raboy and Dagenais (1994) asserted that deciding which social/political chan ges are labeled as crise s and structuring their representation in the public sphere has become one of the essential f unctions of mass media (). For instance, Dean (2004) argued that the media influe nced public perception of Johnson

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28 & Johnsons Tylenol tampering case during and after the crisis. He asserted that media coverage made it clear that Johnson & Johnson had no control over this post manufacture product tampering, suppressing any Could counterfactuals (Dean, 2004, p. 196). Perhaps this is why Johnson & Johnsons sterling reputation was enough to get them through the crisis quickly and unscathed. The companys positive CSR and good reputation allowed the media to portray it as responsible business that ha d no control over the crisis. Ulmer and Sellnow (2000) pointed to three important issues that arise in a corporate crisis: the crisis threatens the organizations social legitimacy, evidence will be investigated to determine the cause of the crisis and someone/something will be blamed. It is important to note that questions of evidence are often so comp lex that typical consum ers are dependent on the media to interpret the findings of the investigation for them so that their meaning may be comprehended (Dean, 2004, p. 193). This furthe r shows how reliant consumers are on the media to be able to come to their own conclusi ons and opinions about peop le, places or things. Dean (2004) asserted that each of these three issues suggests that co rporate communication at the time of crisis assumes strategic importan ce (p. 194). Although this may be true, corporate communication and action before a crisis may be just as important, or perhaps even more. Deans (2004) study was the first one of its kind to examine the following three factors, which may affect ones reaction to bad press, toge ther: a companys response to the crisis event, the companys reputation for CSR before the crisis and the companys responsibility for the actual crisis. The study pointed ou t that literature has already substantiated the first two factors as being important in a time of crisis, and that the third factor has a poten tial effect on corporate image and reputation (Dean, 2004). The study expos ed students from an introductory marking course at Southeastern University to three di fferent scenarios involving a companys corporate

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29 reputation, response to a crisis and responsibility for a crisis (Dean, 2004). Deans (2004) study concluded that responsibility for a crisis situ ation had the greatest imp act on an organizations reputation, but that a good reputati on for social responsibility may be a double-edged sword (p. 208). In other words, although a good reputation may generate goodwill for the company in times of crisis, it may also punish them for inappr opriate responses more so than a company with a bad reputation for social responsibility (Dean, 2004). This is most likely because consumers have higher expectations for soci ally responsible companies. The study also pointed out that loyal customers are believed to have a grea ter motivation to actively evaluate negative information, generating counterarguments to nega tive publicity, and rejec ting information that runs counter to their positive opinion of the company (Dea n, 2004, p. 209). Therefore, it is beneficial for an organization to engage in CSR so that customer s become as loyal as possible, leading to a greater support syst em in times of crisis. Whether or not the media chooses to cover co rporations that verbal ize its CSR efforts, public trust or distrust of business is fu eled by an accumulation of media reports about responsible, or more often thes e days, irresponsible corporate behavior (Valentino, 2007, ). When CSR has an impact on society, whether it is positive or it causes a crisis, it can be argued that the media have a duty to society to repor t on that impact. However, as Hamilton (2003) found, there are likely markets for CSR stories, but there is low quantity and quality of CSR reporting. Perhaps this is because the topic of CSR, beyond charitable donations, is new to journalists. Whether because they do not yet realize the importance of CSR, or because the concept is relatively new, it seems that journali sts have only a superficia l understanding of CSR. What makes it even more difficult is that many CS R efforts are aimed at long-term effects, and

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30 journalists writing about the impact of CSR will find it difficult to assess the impact of company actions (Hamilton, 2003, p. 5). On the other hand, journalists may find it relatively easy to assess the impact of company actions if it results in a crisis situation. On ly until CSR and crisis management are looked at under the same micros cope will businesses and media realize how one can impact the other. Crisis Communication and Management Research on crisis management has examined crises in terms of stages such as crisis planning, crisis decision making and communication strategies post-crisis (Ulmer, 2001). However, one key factor is missing from crisis management analysis: CSR. That is, how socially responsible the organization is in general and how it contri butes to sustainable development. The impact of organizational crises has never been stronger: measureable damage from incidents seems to be greater than in the past, whether quan tified as the extent of ecological destruction or the breadth of product contaminatio n impact (Pearson & Clair, 1998, p. 73). It is precisely for this reason that CSR is so important a nd should be included in crisis management analysis. This factor can play a large role in damage control and reputation management in general, but particularly wh en crises arise. Built around protecting an organizations reputation during a crisis, S ituational Crisis Communication theory (SCCT) identifies a set of cris is response strategies and recommends which strategy(ies) would be most effective in particular crisis situations (Coombs, 2006 p. 175). In SCCT, crisis situations are evaluated in two steps: identif y the type of crisis involved and evaluate the modifiers (Coombs, 2006). SCCT has two types of modifiers, or variables that can alter attributions generated by the crisis type (Coombs, 2006, p. 182). The first modifier, performance history, refers to th e organizations past cr isis and social responsibility record, and the second modifier, crisis severity, refers to how much damage the crisis caused (Coombs,

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31 2006). Although these recommendations are not guaranteed to work with every situation, research has shown that a nega tive performance history intens ifies attributions of crisis responsibility, whereas a positive performance history has no significant effect on attributions of crisis responsibility (Coombs, 2006, p. 182). It may be true that being socially responsible may not affect a company during a crisis; however, it may also be true that not being a socially responsible company can cause irrevocable damage during a crisis. Therefore, we must break away from the current organiza tional crisis management research by focusing on relationships developed pre-crisis as well as pre-crisis action and comm unication, instead of solely emphasizing post-crisis ac tion and communication. Keeping in line with this, Stak eholder theory (ST) states that organizations must realize the importance of all stakeholders, no t just stockholders, in order to be successful, since any group can have a negative impact on the organization if they feel neglected, esp ecially in a time of crisis (Ulmer, 2001). This theory becomes vital part icularly in crisis situ ations since citizens can make or break an organizations reputation and/or success. In order to establish and maintain positive reputations, companies must be socially responsible and do good at all times, not just in times of crisis. Carole Cone, chairman and founder of Cone, said it best when she said that good is the new black. Its a staple in your wardrobe. Its not going to go away ( PRWeek US, 2007, p. 2). Heath (1997) emphasized how important it is to have strong, mutually beneficial relationships with all stakeholders before a cris is, and that pre-crisis communication should focus on an appropriate sense of corpor ate responsibility (p. 290). He went on to say that standards of corporate responsibility need ed to meet key publics expectations should be implemented before a crisis (Heath, 1997, p. 293). Although havi ng strong stakeholder re lationships before a crisis may not help an organization avoid a crisis situation, it can help them in resolving the crisis

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32 (Ulmer, 2001). Besides the fact th at stakeholders have a vested interest in the success of the organization and may represent a network of support during crises, CSR can generate reservoirs of good will, alliances, and sh ared understanding (Ulmer, 2001, ). Public Relations Practitioners Role in CSR and Crisis Situations Public relations practitioners m u st always act in the interest of both the organization and its publics. Therefore, emphasizing the importance of social responsibility to the dominant coalition is crucial to fulfilling practitioner duties. In one way, practitioners are serving the public by minimizing social and environmental risks and c ontributing to sustainable development. In another way, they are serving the organizati on by building trust and mutually beneficial relationships between them and their publics, which will ultimately be useful and advantageous in times of crisis. The mutual-gains approach o ffers six guidelines for dealing more effectively with an angry public, such as acknowledge the c oncerns of the other si de, accept responsibility, act in a trustworthy fashion at all times, and focus on building l ong-term relationships (Susskind & Field, 1996, pp. 37-38). The last two guidelines mentioned are particularly important because they can be looked at as social responsibility efforts. CSR prio r to a crisis, in this case acting trustworthy and building relationships, can help an organization mitigate fault, repair a damaged relationship, and demonstrate commitment to society bot h during and after a crisis (Fuchs-Burnett, 2002). During a cris is, it is important for practiti oners to handle the situation in a socially responsible manner. This includes being early with information, being first with information, being accurate about facts, being persistent with facts and being consistent (Coombs, 1999). While critics of CSR have argued that it is just talk, it does not contribute to a businesses bottom line and that CSR efforts are just in the self-interest of the orga nization, proponents have argued that socially responsible companies have al truistic intentions and will face fewer business

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33 risks than companies that are not socially responsible (Busin ess the Beneficent, 2006). Some critics have even gone as far as calling CSR corporate public relations or regulation-dodging (Burton, 2007). Although many beli eve that CSR is being used to avoid negative publicity and government regulations, others beli eve that it is being used as a strategic tool in protecting human rights and the environment (Burton, 2007). While it is arguable whether or not CSR practices actually add to the comp anys long-term gain, it is clea r that it does generate goodwill (Asongu, 2007, p. 6). Goodwill, a result of CSR practi ces, is imperative to the surviv al of an organization in a time of crisis, particularly since corporations must meet the demands placed on them by society in order to survive in this hostile business environment (Fuchs-Burnett, 2002, p. 34). Creating goodwill for an organization can sometimes be cha llenging, especially when the organization is being criticized for things such as damaging the environment, trampling human rights or not supporting social causes. Pava and Krauszs ( 1997) study evaluated the legitimacy of corporate projects for institutionalizing social responsibilit y. They concluded that social responsibility projects are ideal in four distin ct cases, one being when an organization is directly responsible for causing some kind of harm (Pava & Krausz, 1997). Since this is usually the case with businesses, it seems obvious that social responsi bility projects are ideal for all organizations. Organizations have been found to engage in so cially responsible behaviors not only to fulfill external obligations such as regulatory compliance and stakehol der demands, but also due to enlightened-self-interest considerations such as increased competitiveness and improved stock market performance (Klein & Dawar, 2004, p. 203). In a study conducted by the Society fo r Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2007 Corporate Social Respon sibility: A Pilot Study human resources (HR) professionals were

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34 surveyed in seven different countries to determ ine whether their companies executed some type of corporate social responsibility practic e (Smith, 2007). The study found the following: About 80 percent of HR professionals in those countries [Austr alia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, United States] said thei r organizations participat ed in practices that could be considered socially responsible a nd that ranged from donati ng to local charities to monitoring global fair labor standards. (Smith, 2007, p. 30) The most commonly reported CSR practices were charitable donati ons and fundraising, followed by employee volunteering (Smith, 2007). The report also said that many professionals believed that engaging in CSR programs can have a positive impact on enhancing an organizations public image (Smith, 2007). However, as Smith (2007) pointed out, there is no standard for measuring the success of an organizations CSR efforts, making companies partially dependent on how well the organization communicat es its CSR practices to its stakeholders, the local community and society at large (p. 30) Although conventional financial measurement and historic performance have been used as ways to measure CSR efforts, these approaches only scratch the surface. In its CSR report, the WBCSD introduced new approaches to managing, measuring, monitoring and assessin g CSR such as good practice netw orks, internal and external surveys, benchmarking things such as past performance and industry standards, accreditation processes, social screening serv ices and rating systems, site-spe cific assessments and analytical frameworks (WBCSD, 1999). Si nce there is no CSR standard, the effective communication of CSR activities is key to being considered a socially responsible company and enhancing reputation, which may ultimately help in averting or mitigating a crisis. For companies to be considered socially res ponsible, they must do more than demonstrate good values; they must contribute to sustainable development. Sustainable development is a three-legged stool for profits, people and the pl anet where without one leg the rest fail (Fox, 2007, p. 44). Fox (2007) argued that although the profits aspect of sustainable development can

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35 lead people to be cynical about CSR e fforts, a company cannot pursue sustainable environmental and social initiatives without being sustainable economically (p. 44). Furthermore, Fox (2007) argued that the business case for CSR must be made in order for corporations to take it seriousl y. According to Lipman (2006), co rporations need to stop viewing social responsibility activities as disconnected from the overall business strategy. Instead, companies should be trying to identify the ways in which social issues intersect with their businesses, and figure out responses that are beneficial to both societ y and the corporation (Lipman, 2006, ). In fact, a new study conducted by Cone, called the Cause Evolution Survey, found that 90% of consumers believe that the na ture of a companys CSR programs should be in line with its own bus iness practices ( PRWeek US, 2007). Although practitioners ma y face some challenges when establishing and/or maintaining some sort of level or CSR, Kotler and Lee (2005 ) offered four suggestions: choose a social cause that supports business goals; select an initiative to address the issue or issues that will give visibility to the company; without looking hypocritical, develop and implement program plans that do enough good for the cause to justify the expense, and have an exit strategy; and continuously evaluate and measure outcomes of both marketing activities and financial investments. To make the business case and tie the whole pa ckage together, CSR efforts and initiatives need to be integrated within the corporate ph ilosophy and other key func tions of the company. Public relations practitioners ha ve realized that if a company s CSR strategies are going to succeed, then the whole business must understand CSR, not just one department (Czerny, 2004). The WBCSD (1999) pointed out the following:

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36 A company acting responsibly wi ll have an integrated appr oach to CSR across a variety of functional areas, including the financial, environmental and social dimensions. The social responsibility issue must not be marginalized, but should be part of an overall management and business strategy recognized and promoted at board level. (p. 22) In 2004, the CSR Academy, sponsored by the De partment of Trade and Industry, began providing education, training a nd development for managers of both private and public organizations (Czerny, 2004). This training is focused on helping managers incorporate CSR activities into their core business strategies (Czerny, 2004) When CSR activities are incorporated into the core of business strategies there is often an increase in the level of job satisfaction because employees f eel part of a team, often resu lting in an increase in production (Lamb & McKee, 2005). A report by The Wo rk Foundation and The Virtuous Circle found organizations that integrated CSR activities into the heart of thei r business strategy could outperform other companies by up to 40% in prof itability and productiv ity (Czerny, 2004, p. 7). When it comes to dealing with a crisis, it is clear that by incorporating CSR into the core business strategy, practitioners can ma ke their jobs a little easier. The traditional role of public relations practit ioners, press agentry or media relations, was to communicate an organizations messages to the media. Although this role is not the only one practitioners play today, it is ju st as important as it has ever been. In addition to the framing done by the media, Zoch and Moll eda (2006) stated the following: public relations practitioners who act as sources, whether or not they are public information officers or policy actors, also cont ribute to the framing of a story presented to the media. They do this by highlighting or withholding specific information about a subject or issue from those covering the story. (p. 283) Using framing, public relations practitioners pa ckage an issue or message in a certain way for the media so that they then take that packag ed information and use it in news stories (Zoch & Molleda, 2006). Taking this into account, medi a frames are sometimes pre-developed frames from public relations practitioners. In other wo rds, when media outlets are provided a carefully

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37 framed message, perhaps even arranged into an organized media package to help facilitate their newsgathering, the benefits to a practitioners organization increase geometrically (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 287). Just as public relations practitioners can fram e events and messages to the media, they can also help build, or set the media agenda. At the core of agenda-setting theory is the idea that salience is transferred from the media agenda to the public agenda (Carroll & McCombs, 2003). In essence, public relations pract itioners contribute to the age nda-building process by providing information subsidies to journalists via news releases, media advisories, press conferences, interviews and so forth (Ki ousis & Wu, 2008, p. 59). In ot her words, public relations practitioners help set th e media agenda by passing on informati on to the media in a certain way. In framing and setting the agenda, pub lic relations practitioners do so by using information subsidies. Information subsidies, or prepackaged informa tion, are created by public relations practitioners to promote their organi zations viewpoints on issu es, and to communicate aspects of interest within those issues, to thei r internal and external publics (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 284). In other words, information subs idies are used to publicize organizational actions and operations that could have an impact on their publics or could add to the formation of positive organizational images in the minds of their publics (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 284). While information subsidies allow the process of news gathering to be cost-efficient for the media, it allows an organization to influence th e public in a way that is considered credible (Carroll & McCombs, 2003). Specifically, info rmation subsidies include story suggestions, news releases, remarks by spokespersons, pseudo-eve nts, satellite feeds, technical reports, and company websites (Carroll & McCombs, 2003, p. 42). By using information subsidies as a tool to inform the media of an organizations CSR ef forts, public relations practitioners frame key

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38 messages so that the salience of elements on th e news agenda influences their salience on the public agenda (Carroll & McCombs, 2003, p. 37). Link between CSR and Crises It is obvious that a good reputation can be an im portant factor in dea ling successfully with a crisis situation (Siom kos & Ku rzbard, 1994). Specifically, it ha s been shown that the crisis effect on a well-known company with a positive im age may be minimal (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994, p. 31). Research has also shown that negative effects of a crisis may be alleviated by the press when it reports that a company in crisis is acting socially responsible in an effort to mitigate damage (Siomkos & Ku rzbard, 1994). When handling a crisis, there are appropriate actions of CSR that organizations must take to ensu re that its reputation is not severely tarnished. These actions include being first, being accurate being comprehensive, being consistent, being accessible, being transparent, being committe d in the long haul, being credible, being accountable and responsible, buildin g partnerships, meeting stake holder expectations and taking corrective action(s) (Lundgren & McMakin, 2004). However, co mpanies must always act in socially responsible ways, not just during or after a crisis arises. Therefore, it is worthwhile to know whether or not the negative effects of a crisis can be alleviated by the press if it reports that a company in crisis is always socially responsible. For the purpose of this study, it is important to note the findin gs of Siomkos and Kurzbards (1994) product-harm crisis study. In this study, 384 people be tween the ages of 18 and 40 were randomly selected from the general population and randomly assigned to 16 treatment groups in order to examine compa nys reputation, external effects (regulatory agencies, the press and interest groups) and comp anys response to a crisis in terms of the consumers perception of danger, future purchas ing intention and whether or not the company responded appropriately (Siomkos & Kurzbar d, 1994). Specifically looking at company

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39 reputation and external effect s during the crisis, their study found that these two factors significantly affect consumers perceptions of the degree of danger associated with the harmful product (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994, pp. 35-36). In other words, consumers viewed product defects as less dangerous when the company invol ved in the crisis had a strong reputation and when external parties (i.e. th e press) reactions to company re sponses were positive (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994). It is clear from this study that the media can play a powerful role in influencing consumers opinions ab out an organization, and that a companies reputation prior to a crisis can play just as big a role, or sometimes an even more powerful role than the media. When the media covers an organization in a fa vorable light, chances are that consumers will view them in the same light. By the same toke n, when an organization is socially responsible and as a result has a strong reputation, the media and society, through a domino effect, will also view the organization in a favorable light. Previous marketing research has shown that CSR affects unrelated product evaluations, but Klein and Dawars (2004) study examined the halo effect that CSR beliefs have on attributions made about a product-harm crisis. This CSR halo effect, they asserted, may influence consumer judgments in nonroutine settings such as unpredictable crisis situations (Klein & Dawar, 2004, p. 204). For their study, 150 people th at were intercepted in a mall completed a questionnaire that used a seve n-point Likert scale to examin e three conditions: positive CSR, negative CSR and a control condition, where no CSR information was provided (Klein & Dawar, 2004). The researchers hypothesized that for fi rms that enjoy positive prior CSR, the trigger event for the product-harm crisis will be judged as more external, less stable and less controllable, relative to firms that do not en joy positive CSR (Klein & Dawar, 2004, p. 207). After supporting the above hypothesis, Klein and Dawar (2004) found that CSR associations

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40 have a strong and direct impact on consumers attr ibutions, which in turn translate into blame for the incident that consequently influences bra nd evaluations and purchas e intentions (p. 215). But, the study also found that this impact is evident only for consumers who report that CSR is important in making their decisions (Klein & Da war, 2004). The study concluded that CSR is like an insurance policy that is there when you need it, because although it may not be enough to avert a crisis, it can be instrumental in reducin g the risk of damage to brand evaluations in the event of calamity (Klein & Dawar, 2004, p. 215). It is clear from this study that negative CSR is a power liability and has a greater impact on an organizations reputation in a crisis situation than positive CSR. This study is proof of ho w CSR can save organizations money, resources, time, reputation deterioration and a bi g headache in times of crisis. Shrivastava (1995) examined how not accepting br oad corporate social responsibilities can impact an organization in a crisis situation. Using the example of Union Carbides response to the Bhopal crisis, his study concluded that an or ganization that does not fu lfill its responsibilities in terms of ecocentric management, sustainable development, and crisis prevention and management will not be able to survive without doing so (Shrivastava, 1995). In the case of Union Carbide, the author pointed out that not accepting broad corporate social responsibilities has resulted in constant debilitation of th e company in the 10 years since the accident (Shrivastava, 1995). In general, Shrivastava (1995) asserted that corporations must learn that being socially responsible is not only ethical, but of significance to long-term survival. Specifically, Shrivastava (1995) stated the following: It is in the self-i nterest of companies to broadly co nceptualize their responsibilities on safety, health, and environmental issues and fulfill them vigorously. By doing so, they are likely to act with more caution and more concern for human and environmental impacts of their activities. This caution a nd concern can reduce their crisis chances. (p. 225)

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41 Corporate social responsibil ity and profitability go handin-hand. Similarly, CSR and crisis prevention/mitigation go hand-in-hand. But being socially responsible in the way businesses make profits is just the beginning of CSR. Businesses must go one step further: they should proactively strive to improve the work ing and living standards of their employees, contribute to communities in which they operate and preserve and protect the environment (Jonker & Marberg, 2007, p. 108). Companies that invest in education, the environment and health and human services are reaping the bene fits not only financiall y, but also by enhancing their reputations and in turn, averting or minimizing crises when they arise. For the purpose of this study, good CSR t ook on the meaning of contributing to sustainable development. Bad CSR took on the meaning of not demonstrating an active commitment to sustainable development via soci al and environmental programs. Based on the aforementioned literature, this study addr essed the following research questions: RQ1: Do companies that are considered socially responsible receive more favorable media coverage during a crisis situation? RQ2: Does the tone of media coverage in a crisis change over time? RQ3: What is the CSR portrayal of an organization in crisis through emotive language? RQ4: What frames do the media use in cove rage of an organization in crisis? RQ5: What sources do the media use predominantly during a crisis?

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42 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Method A fully accu rate measure of CSR impacts in crisis situations would have required the analysis of all media coverage of an organiza tion in a crisis. As this would have been impractical within the scope of this thesis, the perspective of one media channelnewspaper articlesserved as a proxy for the full spectrum of relevant media channels. Newspaper articles from The New York Times were specifically chosen for this st udy because of its status as an elite newspaper and its reputation for comprehensive coverage. Such an elite newspaper can be very influential in the framing and agenda-setti ng of other papers (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Therefore, it is important to look at framing and agenda-setting together, since framing is central to second-level agenda-setting (McCombs, 1997). Comparative content analysis was deemed the most appropriate research method for this investigation. Comparative anal ysis integrates key aspects of content analysis, although no specific coding is utilized, and looks for recurring patterns in order to eval uate trends. Because this was a comparative content analysis, research questions were selected in an attempt to establish the level of importance of being seen as socially resp onsible, while at the same time trying to determine if such status affects media coverage of a crisis, a nd inevitably, the recovery process and time. Recovery process and time were operationalized in terms of change in media coverage tone over th e crisis cycle. Content analysis is a systematic and object ive research technique used for studying the content of communication (Wimmer & Dominic k, 2006). Specifically, quantitative content analysis was employed because it increases the degree of precision of ones conclusions and permits a more accurate description of covari ance between elements (Kaid & Wadsworth, 1989,

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43 p. 199). Content analysis includes at least the following seven st eps: formulate the hypothesis or research questions, select the sample, define th e categories, outline the coding process and train coders, implement the coding process, determine the reliability and validity of the study and analyze the results (Kaid & Wadsworth, 1989). Keep ing in line with conten t analysis, Zipfs law assumes that words and phrases used most often in communication reflect important concerns in every communication (Zipf, 2008). Therefore, quant itative content analysis starts with word frequencies, space measurements (column centimeter s/inches in the case of newspapers), time counts (for radio and television time) a nd keyword frequencies (Zipf, 2008, ). The research was based on framing theory a nd agenda-setting theory. Framing theory asserts that the way in which a message is presented to a person will influence the choices he or she makes. Central to second-level agenda-setti ng is agenda-framing, which is the selection of a restricted number of themati cally related attributes on the me dia agenda when a particular object is discussed (McCombs, 1997, p. 6). Th e process of framing is the way in which a communication source, such as a news organizati on, defines and constructs a political issue or public controversy (Nelson et al., 1997, p. 221). There are two types of frames: natural and social (Goffman, 1974). Whereas natural frames occur organicall y, social frames are created deliberately by public relations pr actitioners and the media to pr esent information in a certain way (Goffman, 1974). Therefore, framing is criti cal to the construction of social realitythe way people view the world (Zoch & Molleda, 2006, p. 282). Since both the media and public relations practitioners engage in framing events and messages, framing can be seen as a strategy of constructing and processing news discourse or as a ch aracteristic of the discourse itself (Pan & Kosicki, 1993, p. 57). Additionally, sources chos en by the media can provide further detail to a framework already in place (Kosicki & Pan, 199 6, as cited in Zoch & Molleda, 2006). By

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44 using framing theory, the media and public relations pr actitioners are able to help arouse, sustain, and renew certain affective and emotiona l experiences related to an issue (Kosicki & Pan, 1996, p. 150). In some cases, public relations e fforts may be so effective that it can create public discourse about topics that would otherwise be ignored. Agenda-setting theory suggests that the media sets the agenda by forcing attention to certain issues. They are constantly presenti ng objects suggesting what individuals in mass media should think about, know about, have f eelings about (Lang & Lang, 1966, as cited in McCombs & Shaw, 1972, p. 177). In other words, in stead of telling readers what to think, the media tells them what to think about (McCom bs & Shaw, 1972). In classic agenda-setting research, the core dimension of public opinion mo nitored has been perceived public salience, but the attitudinal consequences of the process have also been highlighted (Kiousis & Wu, 2008, p. 62). Since media coverage can influence what th e public thinks about, it is plausible that the media influences the salience of attitudes as well (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). In other words, media salience of an issue incr eases the salience of that issu e in public opinion (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Kiousis et al. (2007) analyzed the impact of public relations and news media on corporate reputation and financial performa nce and found that corporations would benefit from stressing corporate vision and leadership a nd social responsibility in thei r information subsidies targeted toward mass media outlets (p. 161). This study found that this can ultimately lead to a more effective use of media relations in managing a re putation. The study proved that object salience in public relations messages may lead to increas ed salience in news coverage. Although the media have traditionally played the role of setting the news ag enda, other groups such as public relations practitioners and intere st groups are increasingly partic ipating in agenda-setting (Zoch

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45 & Molleda, 2006). This is important to the fiel d of public relations because practitioners can plan strategies and create messages targeting specif ic media outlets to emphasize those traits that are likely to result in a better image (Kiousis et al., 2007, p. 162). Rega rdless of who is trying to set the agenda, the facts remains that this theory is useful when attempting to shape reality in a way that influences public perceptions and attitudes. Events and Pre-Crisis Status Irresponsible Corporation: Exxon On March 2 4, 1989, carrying 1.26 million barrels or 53 million gallons of oil on it, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker entered the Prince William Sound on Alaskas southern coast on its way to California and hit the Bligh R eef, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil. At the time of the collision, the third mate, who was not cer tified to take the tanker into those waters, was steering the vessel. The spillage spread for 12 square miles in a region that was habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals, sea bird s and the great white shark. Reports later claimed that the collision occurred because the Captain and many of the crew had been drinking alcohol onboard. Exxon was criticized for its employees reckle ss behavior, doing too little too late, not communicating openly and effectivel y, lack of leadership and thei r indifference to environmental destruction, to name a few. The legal imp lications of this cr isis are still lingering. A direct descendant of Rock efellers Standard Oil Comp any, ExxonMobil was formed in 1999 by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Today, using Taking on the worlds toughest energy as its tagline, ExxonMobil is the worlds largest company by both revenue and market capitalization. ExxonMobil markets products worldwide under the brands of Exxon, Mobil and Esso. Prior to the 1989 Valdez oil spill, Exxon had been criticized for its business practices and environmental record. In fact, before ExxonM obil came into being, the U.S. Supreme Court convicted the Standard Oil Company of r unning a monopoly in 1911 and ordered that it be

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46 separated into 34 unrelated companies. Besides being aggressively accused of contributing to global warming by the burning of fossil fuels, Exxon has also been attacked for donating millions of dollars to advocacy organizations which dispute the impact of global warming. These seemingly unethical practi ces are not the only ones on Exxon s docket of activities. There has also been a presumed connection between OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and Exxon. Three-quarter s of OPEC members are based in the Middle East. Keeping in mind that Exxon has always had a large percen tage of its oil-produci ng territories in the Middle East as well, it is clear that Exxon had a close relationship to OPEC. When OPEC placed a six-month embargo on oil shipments to the U. S. in 1973 with the motive to boost sales and profits at all the major oil companies that opera te in the U.S., Exxon came under suspicion. The companys sales and profits hit record highs duri ng the oil crisis of the 1970s, and as a result, faced new criticisms regarding th e way it conducted business. Exxon, in response to the Valdez incident, states on its Web site that the Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident that Exxon deeply regrets. The company took immediate responsibility for the spill, cleaned it up and voluntarily compen sated those who claimed direct damages (ExxonMobil, 2008, ). However, almost 25 years later, Exxons case in the Supreme Court is still pending litigation. Among th e directly affected by the spill were thousands of fisherman, businesses and nearby communities. Although the company claims to have compensated those impacted by the spill, it is still appealing a $2.5 billion USD punitive ruling and has not yet paid any damages besides cleanup costs (Sherman, 2007). Despite critic ism of its business practices, environmental record and human rights violat ions, Exxon claims to have contributed to educational, health, welfare and community service programs. Pr ior to the 1989 Valdez oil spill, Exxon opened an environmental health research site in New Jersey in 1980 to further assure the

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47 safety of Exxon operations and products (ExxonM obil, 2008, ). Furthermore, it developed a computerized communications network that uses desktop workstations to exchange information and data internationally in 1988. Exxon stated that among other advantages, the new worldwide network facilitates quick responses to unus ual developments, such as a refinery operating problem or an abrupt oil price change (E xxon Annual Report, 1988, p. 11). In addition to communication improvements, Exxon also claime d to have made several product improvements for consumers in 1988, such as the 93-octane Exxon Supreme gasoline for high-performance automobile engines and the Thermal DeNOx for reducing harmful nitroge n oxides in combustion gases (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). In 1988 al one, Exxon contributed to sustainable development by donating $49 million to non-prof it organizations, including $35 million in the U.S. (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). Of those donati ons, 59% were for educational institutions and programs while 24% were directed to hea lth, welfare and community service programs (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). Exxon established the Education Foundation in 1988 to improve math learning and teaching in elementary grades. It gave Math Specialist Planning Grants to 50 school districts across the U.S. to assist the di stricts in planning for the utilization of math specialists (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). As part of its matching gift program, educational gifts made by Exxon employees to the United Negro Fund, the American Indian College or the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities were matched three-to-one by the Foundation (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). Exxon also donated $50,000 to the Institute on Black Chemical Abuse in Minnesota to help develop a national technical assistance, training and information center, as well as $20,000 to the Environmental a nd Occupational Health Sciences Institute to help contribute to a better understanding of how the environment affects human health (Exxon

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48 Annual Report, 1988). Furthermore, Exxon rigor ously recruited minorities and women through summer jobs, co-op assignments and scholarships (Exxon Annual Report, 1988). Responsible Corporation: BP On March 2, 2006, a BP field worker sm elled crude oil while driving through the Prudhoe Bay in the tundra of Alaskas North Slope. Five days earlier, about 267,000 gallons of oil leaked from a quarter-inch hole corroded in a 30-year-old BP pipeline. Th e dime-sized hole resulted in nearly 5,000 barrels of crude o il spilt out across an area of two-acres, home to thousands of migratory birds, caribou and other cr eatures. This spill led to the discovery that six miles of the pipeline was badly corroded, and as a result, much of the Prudhoe Bay was shut down. Reports later claimed that a leak detection alarm went o ff four times during the w eek before the spill was discovered, but that BP had interpreted the leak dete ctions as false alarms. BP was criticized for using old pipes, failing to ensure the proper safety and maintenan ce of its pipes, cost-cutting and failure to invest in the plant. BP publicly accepted both legal and financial responsibility for the spill. In 1998, British Petroleum merged with Am oco, becoming BP, using the tagline Beyond Petroleum. Before the oil leak in the Prudhoe Bay, BP had been criticized for an explosion at one of its Texas City refineri es that killed 15 people and injured over 100 in 2005. In 2003 and 2004, government regulators accused BP of artificially driving up the prices of propane. Despite these incidents and criticisms, BP has been pr aised for being one of the first major energy companies to not only acknowledge the global thr eat posed by climate change, but to vow to share in the responsibility of doing something about it. In ad dition, in 2005, BP voluntarily set aside $700 million in compensation for the Texas City incident. BP prides itself in the areas of health and safety, continuous improvement, human capability, and environmentally sound operations.

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49 Keeping in mind what constitutes CSR, BP has contributed to sustainable development in the following ways: BP runs programs through training courses, international assignments, mentoring, team development days, workshops, seminars and online learning to increase the number of local leaders and employees in its operations; it is pa rt of European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and claims to reduce waste and emissions and use natural resources responsibly; it contributes to energy policy education and spent $50.2 million in promoting education in the areas of energy and the environment, business leadership skills and basic education in developing countries where it operates large projects ; it launched BP Ultimate in 2003 to carry fuel that delivers reductions in emissions such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide compared with standard fuel (Sutherl and, 2006, p. 20); it created BP Alternative Energy in 2005 to generate and market cleaner, lo w-carbon power from solar, wind, hydrogen and natural gas sources (Sutherland, 2006, p. 20); BP supports univers ity projects that investigate transportation and energy issues in growing ur ban areas and funds research centers, such as Oxford University in the United Kingdom; BP contributed $95.5 million in community programs in 2005; it invested $9.6 million in support of en terprise development and supports micro-finance systems in countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia and Vietnam; BP has installed solar panels at its service stations, br ought solar power to villages in the Philippines, Algeria and Sri Lanka, helped bring hydrogen-fueled buses to London, and introduced ne w, cleaner types of motor fuel. BP also has water management guidelines, waste management programs, and requirements for environmental impact assessmen ts (EIAs), environmental management systems and environmental programs. Since 2000, BP has s upported more than 200 in itiatives related to biodiversity, spanning research, education and conservation. Furt hermore, BP supports and uses

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50 voluntary principles on security and human rights and has developed partnerships with environmental groups such as th e National Wildlife Federation. Data Collection The researcher em ployed an online search of the database LexisNexis Academic. Using the search term ExxonMobil Valdez with the following parameters, major U.S. and world newspaper publications within th e last 20 years, a total of 919 newspaper articles emerged. Of those, 212 were from The New York Times 146 from The Washington Post and 52 from USA Today Using the search terms BP oil spill and BP Prudhoe Bay with the following parameters, major U.S. and world newspaper publications with in the last two years, a total of 826 and 792 newspaper articles were retr ieved, respectively. Correspondingl y, 32 and 18 of those articles were from The New York Times 15 and 17 were from The Washington Post and 11 and 9 were from USA Today Sampling Units National print coverage of both events was st udied. National covera ge involved a content analysis of the Exxon Valdez oil spill as well as the BP Prudhoe Bay oil leak coverage of The New York Times, The Washington P ost and USA Today Founded in 1851, The New York Times is the largest metropolitan newspape r in the United States with a daily circulation of more than 1.1 million and is distributed internationally on a daily basis. With its famous motto always printed in the upper left-hand corner of the front page, All the News Thats Fit to Print, the The New York Times is owned by The New York Times Company and is published in New York City. Its daily editions have three majo r sections: news, opinion and features. The Washington Post founded in 1877, is the largest newspaper in Washington, D.C. and has a daily circulation of almost 700,000. Owned by the Washington Post Company, The Washington Post is regarded among the leading daily American newspapers a nd has distinguished itself through its reporting

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51 on several different aspects of the U.S. government. Owned by the Gannett Company, USA Today was founded in 1982 and has the widest circulation of any U.S. newspaper (more than 2.2 million copies every weekday). With its motto Your News, When You Want It printed on the front page, USA Todays daily editions have four major sect ions: news, money, sports and life. The three selected newspapers for this study are highly regarded among media outlets and therefore served to represent national elite media content. Sampling Frame A total of 211 hard news articles were anal yzed for this study. W ith respect to national coverage of Exxon Valdez, the analysis examined 166 articles from March 25, 1989 until March 25, 1990. This period covered the day after the oil spill un til a year after the impact. Of the 410 articles initially retrieved from the three newspa pers, 230 were taken out be cause they did not fit within the specified time frame. One articl e was removed because it was a duplicate, and another article was removed because it was irrele vant. Twelve additional articles that were editorials were removed since the researcher intende d to obtain true news story counts. Since the BP crisis was recent, accurate data was only av ailable through the end of 2007. Because of the limits on available, accurate info rmation, this comparison began with the day after each incident and concluded with information one year after th e impact. Therefore, in order to make an accurate comparison, coverage of both even ts used the aforementioned time frame. With respect to national coverage of BPs Prudhoe Bay, the analysis examined 45 articles from March 3, 2006 until March 3, 2007. This period covered the day after the oil leak from a corroded pipeline was found until a year after the im pact. Of the 102 articl es initially retrieved, 20 were taken out because they did not fit within the specified time frame. Twenty-five articles were removed because they were duplicates, and another article was removed because it was irrelevant. Five articles were taken out because they were sh ort blurbs found in the summary

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52 section of the newspaper with no more than a se ntence about the crisis. Six additional articles that were editorials were removed since the research er intended to obtain tr ue news story counts. News coverage of BP was limited in comparison to Exxon because of the selected time frame and publications. Therefore, being relatively recent, BPs coverage was not as extensive as that of Exxons. Analyzed Dimensions National coverage of both events was subjec ted to identical content analyses. The study was not limited to an examination of crisis media coverage; it attempted to provide broad data on media coverage. The stories were analyzed on several dimensions that were quantitative in nature. These dimensions included the date of the article, location of the article in the newspaper, the number of words in each article frequency of emotive language, news frames, news sources, first source cited, first sour ce quotes and the overall tone of each article. These classifications served the purpose of illustrating how much time and emphasis the media placed on each crisis. Because it was highly unlikely that an article would unequivo cally state that an organization is or is not socially responsible, analyzing emotive language served the purpose of cueing into contextual clues th at are important in categorizing a company as being socially responsible or not. News frames were classified as primary if the article referred to health, human interest, economic, environmental, legal, attribution of responsib ility or denial, or secondary if the article referred to any other news frames. News sources were classified as corporate if the article attribut ed a quote or paraphrased a quote from an organizational member; government if the article attri buted a quote or paraphrased a q uote from a government official; other if the article attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from anyone other than an organizational member or government official; cor porate and government if the article attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from both an orga nizational member and a government official;

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53 corporate and other if the ar ticle attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from both an organizational member and another source; governmen t and other if the artic le attributed a quote or paraphrased a quote from both a government offici al and another source; all of the above; or none of the above. Additionally, the first source c ited in each article as well as the first source quoted in each article was classified as corporate, government, other or none. Most central to this discussion, the negative, neutral or positive media coverage of each company in a crisis was also note d. In all of the articles, any re ference to the following specific behaviors was listed: 1) apology, 2) accountability, 3) responsibil ity, 4) clean-up, 5) assistance, 6) goodwill, 7) blame, 8) denial, 9) appeal, 10) refusal, 11) irresponsibil ity, 12) contradiction, etc. An individual story could discus s none, one, or more of these i ssues. In addi tion, the nature of the discussion was analyzed. Each reference to the above behavior was classified as being anti-CSR if it reinforced the comp anys lack of CSR efforts prior to and during the crisis, pro-CSR if it reinforced the companys CSR effort s prior to and during th e crisis, mixed-CSR if it equally reinforced both the companys CS R efforts and lack thereof or neutral. Coding was conducted by a team of two gra duate students. The students met several times with each other and with the principle inve stigator to discuss the coding process and to familiarize themselves with both the code book and code sheet. Using Holstis formula, a subsample of the material, 10%, was used to m easure inter-coder reliabi lity. The degree of agreement ranged from a high of 100% for the most easily quantified material, such as date of the article, location of the articl e in the newspaper, word count, news sources, first source cited and first source quoted to a low of 90.48% for th e frequency of emotive language, news frames and overall article tone. After a discussion of the items that the coders did not agree on, the

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54 coding process and content categories were refined. In addition, all of the coding of the content was in a form that allowed for statistical analysis. Data Analysis Strategy Diction 5.0 and human researchers were used to code and analyze the data for the study. Diction is a windows-based text an alysis program that scientifically codes text-based messages using an unlimited number of words. The program analyzes these messages and produces numeric files that can later be ea sily used for statistical analysis Diction is a flexible text analysis program that allows the researcher to dictate which words are of primary importance to the research. In this way, the researcher was able to create a custom dictionary to restrict the programs analysis to only words chosen by the researcher. After the data was complied into reports, it was uploaded to SPSS. SPSS 15.0 was used to conduct the statistical analysis comparing the media coverage of each crisis.

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55 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS This analysis was based on the content of 211 newspaper articles, which represented coverage over the course of one year of both Exxon and BP during an organizational crisis. The majority of the Exxon articles, specifically 75.9% (n=166), were located on pages other than the first of any section of the newspaper, while 60% (n=45) of the BP articles were located on pages other than the first of any s ection. Slightly less than a qua rter (21.08%) (n=166) of the Exxon articles were located on front page of the first section, compared to slightly less than a third (31.11%) (n=45) of the BP articles. Precisely 3.01% (n=166) of the Exxon articles were located on the front page of all other sections, compared to 8.89% (n=45) of the BP articles. Slightly more than two-thirds (66.87%) (n =166) of the Exxon articles had a word count of 601 words or more, compared to 55.56% (n=45) of the BP arti cles. Nearly one-fifth (19.28%) (n=166) of the Exxon articles had a word count that ranged from 301 to 600 words, compared to 33.33% (n=45) of the BP articles. Finally, 13.86% (n=166) of the Exxon articles had a word count that ranged from zero to 300 words, compared to 11.11% (n=45) of the BP articles. RQ1: Do companies that are considered so cially responsible receive more favorable media coverage during a crisis situation? The results of an independent sample t-te st indicated that there is no significant difference in the amount of favorable coverage a socially responsible company receives during a crisis, t (209) = -0.95, p = 0.34. That is, the average of favorable media coverage for BP ( M = -0.56, SD = 0.725) was not significan tly different from that of Exxon ( M = -0.45, SD = 0.628). Thus the researcher failed to reject th e null hypothesis that the means are the same. Since there was no significant difference betwee n both companies, it cannot be said with confidence that a company that is considered soci ally responsible receives more favorable media coverage during a crisis. Therefore, RQ 1 was not shown to be supported.

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56 RQ2: Does the tone of the media covera ge change in a crisis over time? With respect to both Exxon and BP, and based on the timeline of the articles, there was no identifiable pattern of media c overage changing in either crisis over time (see Figures 4-1 and 4-2). Therefore, in this specific case, the t one of media coverage did not change over time. RQ3: What is the CSR portrayal of an organization in crisis through emotive language? The third research question addressed how each organization in crisis was portrayed in terms of CSR through emotive language in each article. A descriptive reporting of means indicated that 41.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles used emotive language to reflect anti-CSR, while 35.6% (n=45) of the BP articles reflected anti-CSR. Six percent of the Exxon articles reflected neutral-CSR, while none of the BP articles did. In terms of pro-CSR, 44.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles reflected this, co mpared to 46.7% (n=45) of the BP articles. Furthermore, 7.8% (n=166) of the Exxon articles reflected mixe d-CSR, compared to almost 17.8% (n=45) of the BP articles. RQ4: What frames do the media use in cove rage of an organization in crisis? The fourth research question addressed the i ssue of news frames. A descriptive reporting of means indicated that 59.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles used primary news frames, compared to 82.2% (n=45) of the BP articles. Primary news frames included health, human interest, economic, attrib ution of responsibility, e nvironmental, legal or denial news frames. Secondary news frames were used in 40.4% (n=1 66) of the Exxon articles, compared to nearly 17.8% (n=45) of the BP articles. Secondary news frames included any other news frames (blame, fear, disputes, etc.). RQ5: What sources do the media use predominantly during a crisis?

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57 The fifth research question addressed the i ssue of news sources. News sources were analyzed in general by investigating which news s ources, if any, were included in each article. Additionally, the first so urce cited and first source quoted we re also evaluated. A descriptive reporting of means found that 3% (n=166) of th e Exxon articles contained only corporate news sources, while just 8.9% (n=45) of the BP artic les contained only corporate news sources. Corporate news sources included both companies CEO, spokespersons, employees and the like. Government news sources were used in 9.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 2.2% (n=45) of the BP articles. Government news sources included state governors and mayors, district attorneys, governmental agencies (state and federal), city council members, the U.S. President, etc. Other news sources were us ed in 6.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, while none of the BP articles included this source. Other news sources included environmental groups with no government affilia tion, contractors and suppliers, environmental lawyers, energy and oil industry analysts, economis ts, trade associations, scientists wildlife experts, other oil companies, etc. Both corporate and government sources were used in 11.4% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 28.9% (n=45) of the BP articles. Both cor porate and other news sources were included in 4.2% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 11.1% (n=45) of the BP articles. Both government and other news sources were used in 24.1% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 8.9% (n=45) of the BP articles. Precisely 40.4% (n=166) of the Exxon articles included corporate, government and other news sources, compared to 37.8% (n=45) of the BP articles. Finally, 0.6% (n= 166) of the Exxon articles included no news sources, while 2.2% (n=45) of the BP ar ticles had no news sources cited. A corporate source was cited first in 16.3% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, while 46.7% (n=45) of the BP articles cited a corporate source first. A govern ment source was cited first in

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58 49.4% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 35.6% (n=45) of the BP articles. An other source was cited first in 33.7% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 15.6% (n=45) of the BP articles. There was no source cited in 0.6% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, while to 2.2% (n=45) of the BP articles cited no source. In terms of source quotes, 16.3% (n=166) of the Exxon articles quoted a corporate source first, while 42.2% (n=45) of th e BP articles quoted a co rporate source first. Government sources were quoted first in 49.4% (n=166) of the Exxon ar ticles, compared to 28.9% (n=45) of the BP articles. An other source was quoted first in 28.3% (n=166) of the Exxon articles, compared to 22.2% (n=45) of the BP articles. Finally, 6% (n=166) of the Exxon arti cles quoted no source first, compared to 6.7% (n=45) of the BP articles.

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59 Figure 4-1 Tone of Exxon Media Coverage Over Time Figure 4-2 Tone of BP Media Coverage Over Time

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60 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The purpose of this study was to analyze m edia coverage of two oil companies in crisis, looking specifically at how favorably each company was portrayed throughout the crisis, as well as to evaluate news frames and news sources. It is important to note that Zipf's Law states that the frequency of the words that a ppear in a document reflects the importance of the concepts that those words represent. Going into the study, qu alitative text analysis was weighed against quantitative text analysis and equivocating between the two, it was decided that quantitative text analysis best served the purposes of this project with few limitations. To account for the possibility of cross-category confusion, every effort was made to only include words in each category that were exclusive to that specific category. De spite this modification, it was understood that there was a possibility for crosscategory confusion. For example, the category anti-CSR included the term "irres ponsible" which is exclusive to that category. On the other hand, the pro-CSR category included words such as responsible, which was not exclusive to that category. It was possibl e that in context, the word responsible may have been a component of the phrase "not responsible," wh ich has an anti-CSR connection. This anomaly was understood and seen as unavoidable, as the topic of this paper is corporate social responsibility. Regardless of this anomaly, Zipf's law states th at mentioning concept-oriented words such as responsible reflects on the importa nce of the overarching theme of this paper. Additionally, mixed-CSR resu lts were possible due to the anomaly stated above. The first research question for the study sought to determine whether companies that are considered socially responsible receive more favorable media coverage during a crisis situation. A higher percentage of BP articles had a more positive tone than Exxon articles, but ultimately, it was not a statistically significant difference.

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61 The low amount of positive Exxon articles ma y be explained by Pearson and Clairs (1998) assertion that organizati ons that are generally disfavor ed and have a negative past performance history do not receive as favorable media coverage because they are under careful evaluation by the media. ST may help shed some light on Exxons negative media coverage seeing as they may have not nourished stakeholde r relationships prior to the crisis (Coombs, 2006). Over two-thirds of the BP articles had an overall negative tone This finding, however, did not support the general claim that the better reputation an organization has prior to a crisis, the more sympathetic the media are in terms of coverage (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994; Pearson & Clair, 1998; Ulmer, 2001; Klein & Dawar, 2004). On the ot her hand, this finding did support Deans (2004) double-edged sword idea. This idea states that although a good reputation generates goodwill for the company in times of crisis, it also punishes them for inappropriate responses more so than a company with a bad re putation for social res ponsibility (Dean, 2004). In other words, it is possible that BP received negative press because consumers may have had higher expectations for the company since it is se en as a more socially responsible corporation with a better reputation than Exxon. As Dean (2004) found, organizations have a better chance of getting negative press than positive press si mply because the media have a preference for reporting negative news. This finding may offer a possible explanation as to why the majority of both Exxon and BPs articles were negative in tone. Positive articles for BP appeared almost twi ce as often as those for Exxon. This could, on the other hand, be explained by the same gene ral claim that is unsupported by BPs negative articles. As Simokos and Kurzbard (1994) found, ne gative effects of a crisis may be alleviated by the press when it reports that a company in crisis is acting socially responsible in an effort to mitigate damage. Perhaps BPs slightly higher positive media coverage may have been due to its

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62 accepting legal and financial respon sibility of the crisis. Furthermore, BPs positive media coverage may be explained by the presence of strong pre-crisis stakeholder relationships. Additionally, the tone of the BP articles became more positive earlie r in the crisis than the Exxon articles. A possible explanation for this may be that no blame was laid on any party, therefore resulting in the BP coverage becoming more positiv e earlier on. It is also possible that media coverage may have reflected publicly held atti tudes about BP, impacting media perceptions and ultimately, media coverage of the crisis early on (P earson & Clair, 1998). It is important to note, however, that in terms of volume, Exxon had mo re coverage than BP. Although the type of coverage that Exxon and BP recei ved was generally the same, perh aps the BP crisis was not as environmentally or economically significant, he nce why the BP coverage was less in volume. The second research question sough t to determine whether the t one of media coverage in a crisis changes over time. A chronological analysis of the articles was used to determine this. Based on the timeline of articles, the tone of media coverage fluctuated, and no identifiable pattern was found in both the case of Exxon or BP. This inconclusiveness could be attributed to a reporters personal belief(s) about the compan ies, which may have been reflected in the articles. Another possibility c ould be that an articles tone may reflect curre nt public opinion, which is dynamic and frequently changing. On th e other hand, perhaps there was no identifiable pattern because the media was reporting hard news w ith little or no bias, resu lting in a balance of media reporting in this case. Despite these possibilities, the study provided no conclusive evidence that the tone of media covera ge in a crisis changes over time. The next question for the study sought to determine the CSR portrayal of an organization in crisis through emotive language. Key words we re coded as pro-CSR, anti-CSR, neutral-CSR and mixed-CSR. The results of the analysis showed that Exxon was portrayed as being a

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63 socially responsible corpor ation in just under half of the articl es, while BP was also portrayed as being a socially responsible corpor ation in just under half of the articles. Perhaps this points to the concept of CSR not having as much influe nce on organizational media coverage during a crisis as previously believed. BP, however, ha d a slightly higher pro-CSR portrayal, which may have been due to its established CSR program s and initiatives, performance history or comparatively better reputation. The publics perception that BP is socially responsible may have had an impact on the media portrayal of the crisis being less severe than that of Exxons. Exxons early pro-CSR portrayal may have been du e to the fact that at the beginning of the crisis, it seemed that Exxon did make an attempt to rectify its mistake. However, according to the opinions expressed in the articles, these e fforts were half-hearted and led to compulsory government intervention. The depiction of Exxon as a socially irresponsible corporation was 6% higher than that of BPs. According to S CCT, the high percentage of Exxons anti-CSR portrayal may have been due to its past perfor mance history, seeing as Exxon Valdez was not the companys first major oil spill. Moreover, Exxons oil spill ha d a profound economic and environmental impact. As SCCT illustrates, a positive performance history has no notable effect on the severity of a crisis, while a negative performance history incr eases the severity of a crisis (Coombs, 2006). Additionally, Exxon refused to take legal responsibility, resulting in 19 years of ongoing litigation. BPs anti-CSR portrayal may al so have been the a result of its CSR efforts and prior reputation, just as its pro-CSR portrayal was, with th e difference being that its CSR efforts may have reduced the amount of negative CSR coverage. Exxon had more articles that we re neither pronor anti-CSR than BP had. This could be attributed to the federal case that was pending litig ation or to journalists stating the facts. This finding may also be explained by Canela and Vi vartas (2006) study which found that the media

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64 have a superficial understanding of CSR and that it has yet to assu me the role of CSR regulator (pp. 104-105). They also found, that the vague us e of CSR and its equivalents were far more widespread than were in-depth reflections of the issue (Canel a & Vivarta, 2006). Canela and Vivartas (2006) finding may be a possible explanation for why BP did not have any neutralCSR articles. Another possible explanation can be that more people may have cared about the oil spill, resulting in them taking a side. Finally, the depiction of Exxon as both a soci ally responsible and so cially irresponsible corporation was 10% less than that of BP. E xxons mixed-CSR portrayal in the articles was possibly a result of changing public opinion due to the slow proce ss of discovery and fact finding in the federal case. BPs mixe d-CSR portrayal could be attrib uted to its prior CSR efforts despite the crisis event that it was responsible for. A mixed-CSR portray al could reflect on the articles conceding that BP was the cause of the crisis and could have prevented it, as well as BPs understanding that it was resp onsible for the crisis and took every initiative to rectify the situation. The fourth research questi on for this study sought to determine which frames the media use in covering an organization in crisis. Fo r both Exxon and BP, the media predominantly used primary news frames, such as health, human inte rest, the economy and the environment. This finding was in line with Hamilton s (2003) assertion that journalists covering CSR stories in recent years tend to focus their attention specifically on commun ity, health and environmental issues. Specifically, the environmental frame included information on damage to wildlife and the ecosystem. The economical frame include d information on affected industries and businesses and on the impact of oil prices ar ound the country. The human interest frames highlighted community residents who helped in the cleanup efforts, as well as residents whose

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65 livelihood was affected by the oil spills. Thes e frames may reflect the growing notion that CSR has become part of the expect ed costs of doing business (Ham ilton, 2003, p. 5). Furthermore, the findings supported Hamiltons (2003) study whic h found that general interest newspapers focus more on CSR by using entertainment frames such as scandals, ethical issues and crises. The final research question for the study sought to determine which sources the media use predominantly during a crisis. The most individually cited source in the Exxon articles was government sources, while the most individually c ited source in the BP ar ticles was corporate sources. These findings are in line with the current trend in media coverage to consult primarily government and corporate sources. The media consulted government sources more so than any other individual source to get information abou t the Exxon crisis. Perhaps this was due to Exxons lack of credibility or untrustworthiness regarding information about the oil spill. Maybe government sources were more valuable to the media since there was more government involvement in the cleanup efforts and litigat ion for Exxons spill than BPs. Or perhaps reporters consulted government sources, as previ ously stated, since it is the current trend in media coverage. Contrary to Exxon, the media consulted corporate sources more so than any other individual source to get information abou t the BP crisis. These findings suggest that perhaps the media considered BP a more cred ible and trustworthy or ganization than Exxon. Since the crises occurred almost 20 years apart, it is possible that BP may have had a more effective public relations opera tion or better traine d spokespeople than Exxon. The use of both corporate and government sources together was used more in BP articles than in Exxon articles. This suggests a higher reliance on credible, authoritative sources. A dependence on what was coded as other would have incl uded a large number of unreliable sources. Despite indicating that Exxon articles relied on gove rnment sources and BP articles relied on corporate sources,

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66 given the specifics of the info rmation, it was impossible to determine what sources the media used predominantly in each case because of the presence of the other category. The other category encompassed any number of sources ranging from an anonymous source to Joe Schmoe, and because of this variety, the cred ibility and accountability of each source was undeterminable. The first source cited in each article was coded in order to determine which source was chosen to guide each article. Almost half of the Exxon articles cited a government source first. As would be expected, since the first source c ited in Exxon articles was a government source, nearly half of the Exxon articles quoted a govern ment source first. Direct quotes provided additional support to the first s ource cited. A likely explanati on for this result could be the federal case that was initiated because of Exxons oil spill. During the period of time analyzed, the federal case was in its discovery and fact finding phase, of which the result was an influx of information. This information was open to the public and could have be en a likely source of interesting information to the media. Additi onally, in many instances that Exxon was called upon to comment on the crisis, it declined to make a statement. This may have been a precaution due to the ongoing legal battle, however, staying s ilent may have hurt its credibility. As Zoch and Molleda (2006) found, depending on which sources are included in media coverage, messages will be framed in a way that reflec ts the underlying communication message from the respective source. In the case of Exxon, it was clear that government sources were predominantly chosen and that they put the cris is narrative in to place from the beginning. Almost half of the BP articles cited a corporate source first. In si milar form, nearly half of the BP articles quoted a corporate source first. A likely explan ation for this result could be BPs desire to get its information out first. By positioning themselves as an accurate, reliable

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67 and readily available source, BPs public relatio ns practitioners had a higher chance of getting their messages to the media (Zoch & Molleda, 2006). By providing the media with information subsidies, BPs public relations practitioners ma y have played a role in framing the crisis narrative (Zoch & Molleda, 2006). In this way, BP was able to both frame the crisis and set the media agenda. As Burns (1998) found, being cred ible and having a solid reputation may impact whether or not an organizations information subs idy is used by the media. From this study, it seems possible that corporate sources from BP may have been used predominantly because of the companys credibility and reliability or because of its relationship with the media. Having a good relationship with the media is vital since it is a window the organization speaks through to reach its publics. Perhaps BP had a better relati onship with the media pre-crisis than Exxon. These pre-established relationships may have been the reason why the media relied heavily on corporate sources. Perhaps this good relationship led the media to believe that BP was credible, legitimate, consistent, accurate, ope n and honest about the crisis and its part in it. By being open and transparent with its stakeholder groups, BP pr ovided a wealth of information that was easily accessible by the media. Implications The concept of CSR post dates the E xxon Valdez crisis. Only recently has CSR been incorporated into business goals and strategies. Perhaps Exxon did not recognize the importance of contributing to sustainable development as BP may have recognized almost 20 years later. Either way, BPs status as a socially responsible corpor ation played no role in its media coverage during the crisis. Althou gh BP may have been more proactive in its crisis response because it learned from the mistakes of oil companies lik e Exxon, this was not refl ected in this study. Regardless, Exxons crisis had a significantly gr eater environmental and economical impact than BPs. Exxon also faced a greater amount of lit igation than BP. Despite this, there was no

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68 significant difference in the amount of favorable media coverage BP received during its crisis. Perhaps the media have a superficial understandi ng of CSR just as organizations may have had in the past. Or perhaps there have been changes in journalistic patterns of covering organizations in crises over time. Either way, it is possible that organizational efforts in CSR need to be revised and adjusted. Based on this study, it is possible that th e concept of CSR may not have any impact on media coverage of an organizatio n in crisis. Although the media may not fully understand the importance of CSR, p ublic relations practitioners do. The role of public relations dur ing a crisis is invaluable. One of the guidelines offered by the mutual gains approach says to accept res ponsibility (Susskind & Fi eld, 1996). Perhaps BPs public relations practitione rs were more influential to top ma nagement than were Exxons, hence BPs ability to frame the crisis from a corporate perspective. The media forced attention to the environmental, economic, health, human and legal impact of each crisis. BP, however, played a role in setting the agenda, as evident by the medias reliance on corporate sources from the organization. BP seized control of the story and got its message out early. In this case, agendasetting and framing theory can be applied to how an organization communicates its CSR efforts to the media. By framing the narrative early on, BP was able to position itself as a proactive organization. This proactive involvement may ha ve allowed BP to get through the crisis phases quicker and ultimately may have had a greater in fluence in its recovery. Although it may be difficult to establish and strengthen the narrative, once it is in place, it is very difficult to change, giving the organization the upper hand. This project found that although the tone of media coverage did not change over time, the tone of BPs media coverage became positive ea rlier on. This study also found that there was no significant difference in favorable media coverage between Exxon and BP. As a result, it cannot

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69 be said with confidence that a company that is considered socially responsible receives more favorable media coverage during a crisis. Fu rthermore, it was found that while the pro-CSR portrayal of both Exxon and BP wa s relatively the same, Exxon was portrayed as more socially irresponsible than BP. Perhaps this was because CSR was not seen as an important corporate function as it is today. It is also possible that the way both Exxon and BP were run may have contributed to the effectiveness or ineffec tiveness of handling each crisis. Taking into consideration leadership and business practices, the way each crisis was dealt with may have varied. Although some organizations only realize the need for public relations practitioners after a crisis, many organizations recognize the importance of the public relations function as it pertains to crisis management and communication. It is possible that BPs public relations practitioners were able to emphasize the importance of social responsibility to the dominant coalition more effectively than Exxons; however, it did not make a difference in the amount of favorable media coverage BP received. Perhaps only after managing a crisis will organizations realize the importance of its public relations function and th e need to align CSR activities with the overall business strategy. Nonetheless, based on this stu dy, organizational efforts in CSR may not be as influential as once believed. Although CSR can help an organization achieve its bottom line more effectively and efficiently, perhaps the role CSR plays needs to be revisited and modified in order to fit todays busine ss strategies and goals. Limitations Because this was a comparative content anal ysis of two individual oil companies, this project is limited in its genera lizability to other oil companies. Because of oil companies pervasiveness in the global economy and environment, the generalizability to other industries is limited. The first limitation of this study stemmed fr om the lack of equivalent media coverage.

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70 There was considerably less media coverage for the BP crisis than the Exxon crisis. Perhaps this was due to the greater ecological and economical damage that the Exxon crisis caused. Another possible explanation could be attri buted to other factors going on in the world at the time of each crisis. Because of the wide scope of articles available in the me dia, it was impossible, given the time and resources allotted, to c onduct a census of all articles. A broader media picture looking at a greater number of newspapers or even in cluding television coverage may have been more effective. The limited time frame of one year wa s also a drawback of this study. Limiting the time frame to one year did not allow for a balanc ed amount of articles. The Exxon crisis and BP crisis happened almost 20 years apart, and the public relations landscap e has changed since the late 1980s when the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred. Perhaps the underestimated significance of the public relations function partia lly contributed to the severity of the Exxon crisis. CSR is a newer concept in the corporate world and has recently emerged as an important part of business activities. Given the l ack of development of the idea of CS R during the time frame of the Exxon crisis, it is possible that this may have had an impact on the analysis of media coverage. Suggestions for Future Research It is hop ed that this thesis will shed some light on the importance of CSR efforts as they pertain to overall organizational goals. However, in this specific circumstance, CSR efforts did not seem to have an impact. Crises potentially have the power to put an organization out of business, and well-executed CSR programs may ha ve the potential to mitigate this effect. However, this conclusion was not supported in th is study. Future studies should look at crises that occur within a similar time frame and/or crises that have equal environmental or ecological impact. Perhaps doing a qualitative analysis w ould add more value to the research because content would be taken in to account rather than counting the frequency of words. The concept of CSR is still evolving, so the manner in which the media covers it will al so evolve over time.

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71 As a result, researchers must continue to study the trend of how CSR efforts impact crises and how it is covered by the media a nd conduct studies over time. This study is by no means meant to an overarching barometer of the relationshi p between CSR and crises nor the relationship between the media and corporations in crises. Ho wever, it is hoped that th is research will serve as the beginning of what could potentially be a wide range of research related to the study of social responsibility, crises, corporations and media portrayal, which will continue to expand as the growing and evolving field of CSR does.

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72 APPENDIX A CODE BOOK Source: All newspaper articles were retrieved from The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today via the database LexisNexis Academic. Date range: 03/25/1989 03/25/1990 (Exxon); 03/03/2006 03/03/2007 (BP) Every article in the sample s hould receive a unique identificati on number that consists of the following: EX1-EX166; BP1-BP45. The date and time of each article should be in this format: month/day/year. For example, an article th at was published on March 25, 1989 would have the following identifier: 03/25/1989. If more than one article in the sample is published on the same date, the year of publication will be followed by a, b, c and so on in chronological order. I. Location of Article in Newspaper Articles are coded for its location in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today as information is available. Location can be determined by information explicitly stated on the article. Location of article in newspaper is coded as prominent (front page of section A), less prominent (front page of all other sections) or obscure (all other pages of other sections). II. Word Count Number of words in each ar ticle is coded as either short (0-300 words), medium (301-600 words), or long (601 words or more). III. Frequency of Emotive Language References to emotive language are coded as reflecting anti-CSR neutral CSR pro-CSR or mixed-CSR Language that portrays the company as not socially responsible ( anti-CSR ) includes the words blame, denial, appeal, refusal, irresponsibility, mistake, problem, contradiction, damage, cr isis, emergency, negative image, unethical, risk, negligible, contamination, violation, disp ute, litigation or func tional variations of those words as well as similar word choices Language that does not portray the company as either socially responsible or socially irresponsible is coded as neutral CSR Language that portrays the compa ny as socially responsible (pro-CSR ) includes the words apology, accountability, responsibil ity, clean-up, positive image, cooperation, assistance, goodwill, transparency, ethical, agre ement, public relations, solution, safety or functional variations of those words as well as similar word choices. Language that portrays the company as being both socially responsible and socia lly irresponsible is coded as mixed-CSR IV. News Frames Each article is coded for its general news fra me. News frames are coded as being primary (health, human interest, economic, environmental, legal, attribution of responsibility or denial news frames) or secondary (any other news frames). V. News Sources Each article is coded for source attribution. Quotes or paraphrases from sources are coded as corporate (sources from with in the organization), government (sources

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73 from within the government), other corporate & government (sources from within the organization and from within the government), corporate & other (sources from within the organization and other sources), government & other (sources from within the government and other sources), all of the above or none of the above VI. First Source Cited Each article is coded for the first source cited. The first source cited in each article is coded as corporate (sources from with in the organization), government (sources from within the government), other or none VII. First Source Quoted Each article is coded for th e first source quoted. The firs t source quoted cited in each article is coded as corporate (sources from within the organization), government (sources from within the government), other or none VIII. Overall Article Tone Each article is coded for its genera l tone. Tone is coded as being negative (depicting blame, irresponsibility, denial of responsibility, economical ly motivated actions, human error, neglect, carelessness, regulat ion, condemnation, incompetence, legal action/litigation, forced action, remorselessn ess, no intention of doing good or taking corrective action, arrogance, aggr essiveness and/or selfishness), neutral (depicting neither obviously positive nor negative associations) or positive (depicting responsibility, concern, remorse, corrective action, praise honesty, integrity, re liability, sincerity, trustworthiness, carefulness, competence, transparency, voluntary action, social responsibility and/or positive themes such as human service, monetary compensation, people receiving praise, progress, etc.).

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74 APPENDIX B CODE SHEET Table B-1. Code Sheet Variable nam e Variable label Value labels ID Identification Number BP1-BP45; EX1-EX166 DATELINE Story Date mm/dd/yyyy LOCATION Location of Article in Newspaper 1=Prominent 2=Less Prominent 3=Obscure COUNT Word Count 1=Short 2=Medium 3=Long FEL Frequency of Emotive Language -1. Anti-CSR a. Blame b. Denial c. Appeal d. Refusal e. Irresponsibility f. Mistake g. Problem h. Contradiction i. Damage j. Crisis k. Emergency l. Negative Image m. Unethical n. Risk o. Negligible p. Contamination q. Violation r. Dispute s. Litigation 0. Neutral CSR 1. Pro-CSR a. Apology b. Accountability c. Responsibility d. Clean-up e. Positive Image f. Assistance g. Goodwill h. Transparency i. Ethical j. Agreement k. Public Relations

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75 l. Solution m. Safety 2. Mixed-CSR NF News Frames 1=Primary 1=Secondary NS News Sources 1=Corporate 2=Government 3=Other 4=Corporate & Government 5=Corporate & Other 6=Government & Other 7=All of the Above 8=None of the Above FIRSTS First Source Cited 1=Corporate 2=Government 3=Other 4=None FIRSTQ First Source Quoted 1=Corporate 2=Government 3=Other 4=None OAT Overall Article Tone -1=Negative 0=Neutral 1=Positive

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jenine Spoliansky grew up in S outh Florida and attended the University o f Florida where she received her Bachelor of Science in public relations in 2006. She continued her education pursuing a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the Univer sity of Florida, specializing in public relations. Upon graduation in May 200 8, Jenine hopes to use her degrees to contribute to the enrichment of peoples lives.