The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every normality in people’s lives all over the world. The economies have collapsed, people have lost their jobs, and social distance and losing loved ones have affected people’s mental health. In a crisis like this pandemic, governments, authorities, societies, and institutions should unite to help one another in order to pull through. Likewise, it is vital for companies to act socially responsible to overcome the challenges that COVID-19 has caused. Communicating the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives have also a major importance to be able to develop a trustworthy relationship with stakeholders. Starting from this point of view, this research aims to investigate how global airline companies communicate their CSR initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study focuses on the airline companies because the aviation industry is one of the businesses affected negatively the most by the COVID-19. Qualitative content analysis is performed to be able to examine 187 CSR posts in total from three global airline companies. The analysis of data from each company is compared to one another to spotlight any differences. The general findings of the research illustrate that the percentage of CSR posts of Delta and Lufthansa is higher than China Southern, meaning that the latter did not emphasize its CSR practices as much as the other two companies during the pandemic. While all the companies employ both explicit and implicit types of CSR with both best in and best for CSR communication strategies, the preferences differ depending on the company. Delta and China Southern mostly employ explicit CSR whereas Lufthansa mostly engages in the implicit type of CSR. Moreover, Lufthansa and China Southern mostly establish best in strategies whereas Delta mostly exhibits best for strategies. Finally, regarding themes of CSR efforts communicated through Instagram posts, this study concludes that all three of the companies mostly focused on ethical and philanthropic responsibilities during the pandemic. Delta clearly puts a spot on societal issues such as cultural diversity, racism, and gender equality. Lufthansa emphasizes its voluntary actions to bring people home, maintain the global supply chain, and fundraise. Lastly, China Southern focuses on health measures taken due to the COVID-19, sustainability, and some voluntary services to meet society’s needs during the pandemic.

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René König
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Beyza Delikanlı. (2022, June 27). CSR Communication during the COVID-19 pandemic A study on CSR posts of global airline companies on Instagram during the COVID-19 pandemic. Media & Business. Retrieved from