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Research Roundtable discusses corporate social responsibility and advocacy

Posted October 5, 2018
By Ashley Busnuk


Dr. Denise Bortree was the guest presenter to the September Research Roundtable at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

An associate professor of communications at Penn State University and director of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, she discussed corporate social responsibility and corporate advocacy as they relate to sustainability and nonprofit communication. 

Bortree's presentation explored research funded by the Center and looked at the questions it raised on corporate social advocacy, including factors that drive companies to take stands on societal issues. She discussed the difference between social responsibility and advocacy.

Corporate social responsibility is simply the idea that corporations have a responsibility to the groups and individuals that they affect — stakeholders and society at large. They often take responsibility for their actions and minimize any negative effects they, or their products, have on those who use it.

Corporate advocacy is when businesses help craft compelling public messages that reform policies, influence legislation, educate the public and help get people to take action on an important cause.

Some examples Bortree discussed were the messages large companies like Papa John’s made on the Affordable Care Act, the ads Target created for same-sex marriage, and most recently, Nike’s ad featuring Colin Kaepernick.

Research Bortree presented mentioned how millennials have pushed for companies to speak out, why CEO’s of these companies actually do speak out, activism and advocacy’s wide range of definitions and applications, and how we can move forward in this area of research.

Dr. Robert McKeever, an associate professor in the SJMC said the Research Roundtable, “...  was a great discussion of advocacy and the future direction we might want to go toward for research advocacy and what it means.”

The monthly Research Roundtable provide students and faculty an opportunity to be exposed to emerging research in the communications field from the school’s own colleagues and other outside researchers like Bortree.

The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication is a research center focused on the study and advancement of ethics and responsibility in corporate communication and other forms of public communication.


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Ashley Busnuk

Ashley Busnuk is a first-year graduate M.M.C. student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She is a graduate assistant in the communications office and a journalism teaching assistant. Busnuk is working towards a career in marketing and creative advertising in the tourism industry.