Communicating Socially Responsible Initiatives: An Analysis of U.S. Professional Teams, p. 187-195

Matthew Walker
Aubrey Kent
John Vincent

The unprecedented growth of the Internet has provided new ways for organizations to communicate with their stakeholders. Consequently, messages devoted to ethical, environmental, and other social initiatives have increased in popularity. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one way in which organizations seek to manage stakeholder pressures, improve organizational reputation, and increase consumer patronage. Based on these potential outcomes, the purpose of this study was to analyze CSR–related content distributed by teams to their stakeholders via electronic newsletters. Over 800 e-newsletters in the four major sport leagues were analyzed. This sample offered both typicality and systematic variety of teams to reveal general CSR practices and communication strategies. The results show that the teams do not display the same eagerness to appear socially responsible in their e-newsletters. Despite adopting different approaches to CSR, many of the teams’ communicative strategies were similar regarding content, self-reference, stakeholder issues, and message orientation.