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CSR Communication: Starbucks and CSRwire Executives Share Insights With PR Master's Students at George Washington University

Submitted by: GWU - College of Professional Studies

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability

Posted: Mar 11, 2014 – 04:43 PM EST


WASHINGTON, Mar. 11 /CSRwire/ - Social responsibility and sustainability belong in the core DNA of a company, not as stand-alone initiatives, according to Corey duBrowa, SVP Global Communications and International Public Affairs at Starbucks, and Joe Sibilia, CEO at CSRwire.

The executives advised students around the globe earlier this month during live webinars hosted by the Strategic Public Relations (SPR) professional master’s program at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.

“Building social consciousness into an organization starts with a very comprehensive audit of the operations, supply chain, and governance,” recommended Sibilia, “so it is then incorporated into all aspects. That way, companies become authentically socially responsible, and can communicate it transparently without fear of boasting, misrepresenting, or losing control of the message.” A natural outcome is that CSR then becomes aligned with the core business and products, creating a genuine socially responsible brand.

Starbucks is a leading example of not only integrating CSR into the organization, but also communicating it within its core brand message. “We talk about our values and founding principles, not about CSR,” said duBrowa, “because we don’t see CSR initiatives as something separate from who we are. These are behaviors that are woven through the entire culture.”

Both experts agreed that companies can successfully balance profitability and a social conscience.

With Starbucks, their core mission of enacting positive change within communities gave them the leeway to introduce some bold ideas during the recent fiscal crisis--like the Upward Spiral rally cry to withhold corporate political donations and the Create Jobs initiative to help drive the U.S. economy. “And the benefits are mutual,” said duBrowa. “By helping the communities we serve, we certainly see the benefits for Starbucks as well. We know that people want to support companies with values that match their own.”

Where is CSR communication headed? Sibilia sees great promise in social media, especially the usefulness of CSRwire's Twitter chats to connect stakeholders with organizations. He also foresees more transparency through voluntary disclosure. “It’s proven to increase both corporate credibility and shareholder value.”

GW’s Strategic Public Relations master’s program serves working and aspiring professionals both on campus and online. “One of our unique strengths is connecting students with PR leaders like Corey duBrowa and Joe Sibilia,” says Larry Parnell, program director and Arthur Page Society member. “Our mission ix to educate students to become leading PR professionals. CSR is essential for organizations today, and both integrating it with a company’s core business and communicating its value to stakeholders is a business model for the 21st century.”

- GW -

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