Public Rhetoric

For my forum posts this week, after much deliberation I decided to write on a thread for something that I was passionate about rather than just a simple hobby. I felt that I would be much better at creating an argument in regards to the situation and shaping it in order to fit my audience. Therefore I chose to research forum threads on Reddit (first time user) for Corporate Social Responsibility, otherwise known as CSR, to make some comments on. I was pleasantly surprised upon finding this blog because some points were made that I had never even thought about, being in favor of CSR, giving me the ability to craft new arguments and try to tailor them to sway the other users on the site. Coincidentally enough, the Reddit that I found this thread on is called Change My View, and states that it is a forum for people who have an opinion on something but accept that they may be wrong or want help changing their view. After I did some research I realized that there is a function in the forum where you can award somebody a “Delta”, or in other words congratulate them for changing your view even on the smallest of points within a subject that is up for debate, along with deletions for off topic or incorrect use of the thread. I found this interesting also as the only forums I have ever seen I steer clear from as they tend to get off topic and fuel passionate discussions down the road of angry arguments instead. After reading the thread that had already been going on for about eight days, I began to build an understanding for the writer of the original CMV question. He was more passionate about personal finance and against big businesses than he was CSR, and tended to present his points in an extremely detailed and logical way to those that opposed him. People that commented on his question with emotional responses got almost condescending replies, as he was only interested in having a lively debate with those that truly understood the situation that he was speaking on. In regards to CSR, it is the career path I would like to take. Along with that I have had some experience with the subject, so I figured that I could try and sway his opinion through a logos argument in which I laid out my experiential learning in the situation along with challenging his point of view through reasoning with his very severe judgement of corporations and the decisions they make in relation to social good models. The main topic the writer proposed:

“I don’t believe that companies should buy into this “give back to the community” corporate social responsibility thing that’s in fashion in my neck of the words. To the extent that I think it’s wrong to do so, rather than just that it’s okay to do so. I believe that society benefits more if these would-be philanthropic companies were to avoid the cost of supporting orphanages etc. and passed the savings on to their customers. Ultimately it is consumers who are in the best position to decide how to use that saved money to benefit society, whether that is through just keeping the savings for themselves (charity starts at home) or through direct donations to the orphanage. Because maybe I’d prefer to donate to the EFF than to an orphanage, because I think that actually helps fix problems rather than just treating symptoms. But all the “socially responsible” companies adopt an orphanage, because that’s the sexy social problem. It makes for good photo opportunities and easy, appeal-to-emotion “look what awesome people we are” ad copy.”

Many people had already taken apart the actual numbers on the saving money aspect with him, and I decided to take a more simple approach of addressing the fact that he had actually used extremely subjective approach to the situation rather than looking at the broader picture of the good that these companies are actually able to produce in comparison to the individual. Usually I would be much more specific in my arguments, but I wanted this point of view to switch to focusing on the bigger picture. I decided it would be best to come at his argument of marketing, branding, and PR from the personal perspective of myself, whom being in this industry feels that these aspects of a company can actually be genuine.

Part of one of my replies:

“If a company is already paying for advertisement and PR, how could aligning their social good model with their branding be a bad thing?

Not only can they do good but they also have the resources, forward momentum, and already established branding that is needed to truly give a social movement campaign the support it needs in being successful. It is becoming less attractive for a company to be selling a product without a purpose.

Not only do social good models, if done right, give a story and show that the company is truly living out it’s values to the customer, but it also creates a pull method to customers that attracts them to the product. And on the flipside the world is also helped in a multitude of ways as people live their everyday lives.

With this business model consumerism meets charity and doing the right thing meets doing the things that you already do. If you are assuming that the money saved will be reinvested personally into charities of choice, then I feel it is safe to assume that the opposite is actually of higher possibility – that these individuals end up investing those few pennies that come back to them in products and services that benefit themselves.

Corporate social responsibility empowers individuals to give back to society through imbedding the act in their everyday lives. They still have the choice where to buy their products and services from, therefore giving them the choice to associate with those companies that they feel they align with in values.”

Another post (in regards to experience):

“I have first-handedly have seen how hard it is to start a nonprofit, and now am first-handedly seeing how a start up for-profit company is run as I now have a position doing public relations and communications for an apparel line that has a strong social good model in line with their values. My biggest takeaway from these two positions is that if for-profit companies can do more good than non-profits, and they are doing good that is true to their company values rather than just as a publicity stunt, why shouldn’t they other than for reasons of personal finance? Which could simply be solved by a customer that does not agree with the practice of CSR not investing their money in the company’s product or service and making the conscious decision to take it somewhere else, therefore saving it from being invested in places that are not of their choice.”

I have yet to receive a reply, but you are able to check out my responses here. My username is cortr100: In regards to the post reviewing a product, I did a review on my new skateboard. Not much going on here, although I do realize that the audience is for people that would be possibly wanting to buy the product, so I decided to focus on Looks like it hasn’t been approved and posted yet, but it will be here when it is.

2 Responses to Public Rhetoric

  • Jess Smith says:

    I like that you chose to “fight fire with fire” in that you countered his logical arguments with your own logical arguments. From this quote, it seems that the author is more interested in maximizing the benefit to the consumer because he feels that will better serve society. Perhaps some statistics of how CSR programs have effectively benefited society in the past could help restore his faith in such initiatives.

  • richardcolby says:

    I read through that thread, and I found the conversation interesting. I think your post was good, but it also seemed to merge into the consensus, so it’s not surprising to me that not many people responded to you in particular. Thanks for adding the hyperlinks to your post by using the link feature.

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