In stories of impact – in channels

In today’s business where stakeholders not only demand companies to conduct Corporate Social Responsibility (here after abbreviated as CSR) but also to provide related data and information about its scopes, quantity, progress, and achievements (de Grosbois, 2015), communicating CSR should be a common practice. CSR is successful when it is both well implemented and communicated (Du et al. 2010) because businesses cannot hope to enjoy concrete benefits from CSR unless they intelligently communicate their initiatives to relevant stakeholders (Maignan and Ferrell, 2004). Although people expect companies to communicate CSR progress and efforts, they are particular about how that information is conveyed, seeking CSR content that is personally relevant – balancing data with stories of impact – in channels that are easily accessible and customizable as per the audience (Cone Communication, 2015). To successfully communicate CSR, the companies need to integrate CSR into all their communicative functions by building relationships with internal stakeholders, market and society through Public Relations (Zerfass, 2008), and by applying one of the three stakeholder communication strategies: informing, responding and involving (Morsing and Schultz, 2006). CSR has become a communication challenge (Dawkins, 2006).

 In the tourism industry, communicating CSR is important to help companies explain and support their new sustainability policy, gain reputation which is useful to minimize negative impacts during crisis, highlight responsible business practice (Graci and Dodds, 2008), create a competitive edge when recruiting employees, and enhance their image for CSR conscious potential consumers (Holcomb et al. 2007). However, tourism companies have less drive to communicate CSR; due to their low quality and usability, low adoption, varied data and information with regard to its scope and depth for different companies (de Grosbois, 2015), and difficulty of using it for external evaluation and comparison (Seyitoglu and Yuzbasioglu, 2015). A study involving 239 global tourism companies from 10 business sectors to determine the extent to which the companies provided CSR information indicated that the practice in the tourism industry lags behind other industries, as only 31 % of tourism companies provided sustainability information on their websites and only 19 % had a stand-alone CSR report (Herremans et al. 2011). Communicating CSR is generally more apparent in large companies while tourism industry is mostly made up by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (Tamajón and Aulet, 2013). There is also a wide gap of practice among tourism’ business sectors where accommodation has more efforts than restaurant, airlines, tour or travel and tourist attractions. In addition, research on communicating CSR in tourism seems to be critically new and limited (Holcomb et al. 2007; Coles et al. 2013), slow and in steady progress (Ricaurte, 2012) and much focused on accommodation sector than other sectors such as tour and travel, restaurants, airlines and tourist attractions (theme parks).

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In Bali, Indonesia’s most important tourist destination, there are increased studies on CSR but are not focused on communication-related issues. A study of Bali’s 26 starred hotels showed that they all had CSR reports, but its study objective was the CSR impacts on hotels value, not the communication aspect (Yuniartha and Purnamawati, 2016). A study of 30 SME companies indicated that most companies have not made CSR reports yet, only reported CSR spending through annual financial report (Devyani, 2015). Considering the importance of stakeholders’ awareness of CSR but limited information found on Bali hotels’ website, Dewi et al. (2015) designed a special website template was designed to provide CSR information.  Tourism is the backbone of Bali’s economy and tourism companies’ successful CSR positively contributes to business success, community welfare, and the tourism itself as an industry. Research on CSR communication in tourism generally addresses six (6) main issues; motives, contents, channels, impacts, strategy and its influential contextual factors (Coles et al. 2013; de Grosbois, 2015). This study investigated how companies in Bali tourism industry communicate CSR; What are the communication goals? To which audience do they communicate, what CSR information? Using what channels, and stakeholder communication strategy?


II Literature Review

          II.1. Corporate Communication

            Companies communicate CSR to multiple stakeholders through varied methods and multiple channels which have led to being possibly “counterproductive and fragmented” in terms of consistency and coordination of communication” (Cornelissen 2014,p.5; van Riel and Fombrun, 2007). Corporate communication is a “management function that offers a framework for the effective coordination of all internal and external communication with the overall purpose of establishing and maintaining reputable reputations with stakeholder groups upon which the organization is dependent”  (Cornelissen, 2014, p.5). Corporate communication “embraces all communication processes, which contribute to tasks, its implementation within companies and contribute to the internal and external coordination of actions and to the clarification of interests defining the relation between companies and specific stakeholders” (Zerfass, 2008, p.66). Corporate Communication integrates internal communication, marketing communication and Public relations to communicate with internal stakeholders, market and society (Zerfass, 2008). 

            Internal stakeholders’ CSR awareness is very important because it represents an essential element of external communication, representation and image of the company as they are information transmitters to the external environment (Bhattacharya et al. 2008).  Building relation with market-based stakeholders is also important because greater than 80% customers believed firms should engage in social initiatives and 76% felt those initiatives would benefit firms (Becker-Olsen et al. 2006). Besides, “any and every marketing communications tool is capable of conveying a company’s CSR message and contributing to its corporate image and brand equity” (Jahdi and Acikdilli, 2009, p.106).  Public Relations focuses on relationships and balancing interests and expectations between organizations and their stakeholders, society and shapes organizational policy and activity as well as public understanding of the organizations (Bartlett, 2011) through specific functions of and roles such as community relations, media relations, government relations, and issue management (Fawkes, 2004).

Corporate communication aims at creating value by building (1) intangible assets; corporate culture, brands, and reputation, (2) tangible assets; publicity, customer preferences and employee commitment,  (3) room for manoeuvre; positive relationships, trust, legitimacy, and (4) opportunities for development; crisis resilience, innovation potential and thought leadership (Zerfass and Viertmann, 2016). Corporate communication on CSR is worth of studying because dealing with sustainable development and social responsibility has been of strategic communication challenge (Holtzhausen and Zerfass, 2011).