U.S. Fortune 500's stakeholders engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence for proactive approaches.

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Public Relat Rev, 2022, 48, (4), pp. 102230
Issue Date:
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In times of a national crisis such as COVID-19, it is important for organizations to show that they are good corporate citizens. At the same time, organizations should carefully select the type of messages that resonate with stakeholders so as to reduce stakeholder skepticism. This study examines how U.S. Fortune 500 companies discussed their COVID-19 pandemic CSR actions on Facebook over 15 months and how the public responded to such messages. We identified three CSR themes: internal stakeholder proactive CSR, external stakeholder proactive CSR, and external stakeholder accommodative CSR. When publics engaged, external stakeholder proactive CSR was significantly associated with better behavioral engagement outcomes, more positive emotional engagement outcomes, and less negative emotions. However, such effects are moderated by industry type. Our findings inform public relations theory and practice and suggest that in times of major crises, organizations should prioritize proactive approaches to engage external stakeholders while being mindful of specific institutional contexts.
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