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Public relations models and corporate social responsibility in the mining sector in Richards Bay, South Africa
The history of public relations include facets of “publicity” and “press agentry,” and has matured beyond these narrow, tactical functions, rising to accept positioning as strategic communications which can drive corporate social responsibility decision-making that resonate credibly with community stakeholder. The study explored public relations models of communication within stakeholder engagement to establish corporate social responsibility projects in the mining sector in Richards Bay, South Africa. The stakeholder engagement process depends greatly on principles outlined in the King Reports, which includes a stakeholder ‘inclusive approach’ and ethical guidelines for ‘governing stakeholder relationships’ and emphasises ‘sustainable development’. Furthermore, a socially responsibility business integrates the economic, legal, ethical and discretionary obligation of business to society and further recognizes its place in the broader community. Although qualitative research design was chosen for this study, the research used purposive sampling to select individuals and groups for data collection on the stakeholder communication experience. Six Individual in-depth interviews and one focus group interview were conducted with the organisation’s Communities and Corporate Relations team and the community leaders. The research reports that the corporate social responsibility stakeholder engagement process has five stages (consultation, engagement, agreement, decision making and feedback) and there is an evaluation process on community development projects set by the organisation. Consequently, the organisation and the communities both benefit from the corporate social responsibility projects. Additionally, the analysis shows that the model used for stakeholder engagement within corporate social responsibility is the mixed-motive model of public relations. Hence, the relationship between the organisation and its host communities is established and maintained, as well as the social licence to operate and reputation is enhanced. Therefore the research concludes that a public relations’ mixed-motive model of communication is best suited for stakeholder engagement in order to establish corporate social responsibility projects in the host communities that can enhance favourable organisation-community relationships. The model intends to achieve equilibrium between the organisation and the community stakeholder. However, further research is recommended into the development of a new African public relations model of communication that encompasses the concept of ‘Ubuntu’ where the community leader is the final decision maker in consultation with the traditional council.
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