You might be aware of an ongoing reader on corporate activism, edited by prof. Ana Adi from Quadriga University of Applied Sciences: it has some new contributions but all timely and valuable when it comes to discussing this trend and its implications. It’s a conversation starter, rather than a final statement on the matter.
In recent years, corporate activism has intrigued, puzzled and challenged communicators. While in the past, activism and corporate communications were often presented as incompatible if not totally opposed (for that, all you need to do is leaf through any book of PR history published before 2000), a shift into what corporations can and should acknowledge seems to have haven taken place around 2010. Whether this is related to changes in technology (and more specifically, the rise of social media) or the increased visibility and success of social movements, or a combination of both, is still up for debate. It is also questionable whether critical PR scholarship calling for an integration of activism and communication (see my recent edited collection on Protest Public Relations, for example) has finally reached practitioners and corporations.
What is certain is that the term ‘corporate activism’ has entered the mainstream, implying not only that the time is right but also that it is increasingly expected that corporations are more explicit and more consistent about the values they have, the causes they promote, and the ideas, ideals and ideologies they support.
Can activist stances be exported? And what if organizations become the focus of another organization’s activism or even another state? This reader aims to tease out answers from practitioners, members and alumni of Quadriga University of Applied Sciences’ network. Conceived as a collection of research updates, opinion pieces, case studies and practical insight geared at communication practitioners and communication students, this reader has been designed as a conversation starter as well as classroom material. It is therefore structured in three parts: research updates, case studies, and tools and solutions from practitioners.