Purpose: This paper aims to investigate a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications in a business network with regard to the flow of critical events related to CSR. Design/methodology/approach: The paper focuses on the drama that unfolded at a Nordic-based multinational corporation, Stora Enso, after a critical event related to CSR and the specific signs and codes applied by the company to justify its actions. To achieve the aims, the authors conducted a dramaturgical and semiotic analysis of the company’s corporate communications in connection with various actions prior to or following the major critical event. Findings: The findings consist of a five-act drama that unfolded around certain CSR communication activities at the company. The authors followed the company’s shift in communication strategy as they were compelled to adopt a more responsive and involved approach. The results also show the roles of the various business network actors in shaping CSR communications. Practical implications: This case has practical uses for providing the framework to create effective messages at different stages of the communication process related to a major CSR event. Originality/value: The originality of the study lies in its application of a dramaturgical and semiotic approach to the analysis of CSR communication. It also contributes to the scarce literature on CSR communication within business networks.