Knowledge Centre:
News Digests

Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:

Good intentions: The credit crisis has compelled companies to take a more holistic view of social responsibilityND

Julian Evans, Wall Street Journal, 03 February 2010

A survey of UK businesses reveals that a third of companies have cut their CSR budgets and reduced philanthropic donations in 2008-2009. Yet experts consider this an opportunity to redefine responsible business in terms of sustainability; a values-driven strategy enabling companies to adapt to global environmental and social trends, as part of standard operating procedures. Sustainable initiatives contribute to companies’ survival and success by recognising and harnessing existing strengths, and planning for a future of limited resources. For more information see

Corporate philanthropy remains strong despite global slowdown ND

Probono, 01 February 2010

The government has released a report by the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs, which confirms that major companies continue to support communities despite the economic downturn. The report, titled Impact of the Economic Downturn on Corporate Community Investment, surveyed 150 leading Australian listed companies on their community investment. The government supports increased business input in social inclusion, and sees a future of continued investment, long-term strategies and cross sector partnerships. For more information see

Profiting from friendshipND

The Economist, 30 January 2010

Research finds that 20 per cent of Twitter updates refer to a specific brand or product. Accordingly, social media companies are working to harness their potential business value. Facebook, for example, is working with Neilsen to create benchmarks to measure the impact of social-network advertising on brands, while strengthening its capacity to provide feedback on corporate campaigns. Multiple business models — based either on advertising, sales or the delivery of premium services — have emerged, the nature of which vary according to regional differences across the world. For more information see

13th annual global CEO surveyND

PricewaterhouseCoopers, January 2010

A survey finds that CEOs are split on their approaches towards addressing the issue of trust in corporations — the top responses range in order from participation in industry initiatives to improve the sector’s reputation, pro-active dialogue with policymakers and regulators, improving reputation measuring and management, expanding CSR programs, increasing media relations, revising reporting and engagement with investors, engaging with NGOs to improve factors that affect reputation, and addressing executive compensation practices. For more information see

Mission and marketing: Toyota, BP and Organic ValleyND

Jeffery Hollender and Bill Breen, CSRwire, 28 April 2010

Companies are promoting their corporate responsibility messages without weaving it into all operations across the business. Some companies have contradicting values — such as BP and Toyota, who are compared here against Organic Valley, a positive example. Most companies make the mistake of forming corporate responsibility departments, but do not allow them to influence decisions across the company. This can lead to big hits in reputation, as for a company to be deemed truly ‘responsible’ and ‘sustainable’ it needs also to be accountable for its decisions. For more information see

Strategic steps to save media relationsND

Communication World, January-February 2010

Firms should renew their media relations strategies to satisfy modern stakeholders’ needs. Media relations must encompass more than just print forms or press releases, they should incorporate a mix of online and multimedia components to capture attention and deliver content to a wider spectrum of stakeholders; including influential bloggers and industry watchers. Companies should also adjust their measurement mechanisms and manage clients’ expectations to reflect the changing means of media engagement. For more information see

2010 Edelman Trust Barometer ND

Edelman, 25 January 2010

Edelman’s 2010 survey has found that public trust in business has increased modestly this year. However this may be temporary as most respondents believe that current actions to improve ethics and transparently are only short-term responses to the financial crisis. Trust in governments and NGOs have also increased, with the latter being the most trusted globally. Traditional media is the only institution to lose credibility, and is indicative of media consumption trends over the last decade. For more information see www.

McDonald's frantic backpedaling: The pig toy fiasco ND

Larry Loh, CNNGO, 25 January 2010

McDonalds Singapore has apologised to angry Chinese consumers and reversed its decision to pull out the pig character from its Chinese Zodiac toy range. The pig was omitted in sensitivity to Muslim customers, however, it attracted angry criticisms online for being culturally insensitive to Chinese culture. Commentators say McDonalds’ blunder is typical of multinationals’ lack of cross-cultural understanding, local awareness by global CSR managers, and stakeholder engagement. Mainstream Muslim groups, in fact saw McDonalds approach as supporting extremism, reinforcing stereotypes and failure to understand their religion beyond face value. For more information see

Sixty corporations begin measuring emissions from products and supply chainsND

Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, 20 January 2010

60 global companies have begun testing the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Initiative. This new measurement tool proposes to comprehensively measure companies’ total emissions via two new GHG Protocol Standards — the Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard and the Scope 3 (Corporate Value Chain) Accounting and Reporting Standard. The final standards are scheduled to be published in December 2010. For more information see

Effective partnerships for better labour standards ND

Sean Ansett, Ethical Corporation, 18 January 2010

Companies such as Gap, Wal-Mart and Timberland have made progress on improving labour standards in developing countries via private public partnerships such as the IMCAW project in South America. This is a multi-stakeholder alliance that provides training to promote a culture of compliance and improve local auditing capacities. Project leaders also consult with an extensive range of stakeholders and NGOs to develop a proposal for a public policy framework for local governments. For more information see

Down to business: new users tap into social mediaND

Peter Munro, Sunday Age, 17 January 2010

Many companies have experienced the negative effects of social media on their brand reputation; however blocking employees’ access is not the best means of control. Companies like Telstra, ABC and AMP are developing social media policies to regulate and guide employees’ use of online media. These include introducing pragmatic advice such as separating professional and personal use, rules limiting usage time, and monitoring feedback online. For more information see

Google versus China — a battle for information or reputation?ND

Brand Republic, 13 January 2010

Experts are divided on the wisdom of Google’s decision to threaten its operations in China based on pure ethical considerations. On one hand, the company will enhance its image in the west and affirm its ‘do no evil’ brand slogan, readdressing public criticisms, and thus turning its greatest reputational liability into an asset. On the other hand, it may also attract ire from shareholders and investors concerned with the commercial ramifications of retreating from the world’s largest market. For more information see

A little knowledge is deadly dangerous ND

Stefan Stern, Financial Times, 12 January 2010

Many corporations already possess the information they need to avoid a crisis. However, vital pieces of information are often not passed on and disappear within separate business units or teams. Businesses must ‘relentlessly’ follow up on information that is circulating in the organisation, establish reward systems and promote the importance of sharing information across different units in order to recognise the value and make use of existing knowledge. For more information see

Businesses demonstrate their sense of social responsibilityND

Bao Chang, China Daily, 11 January 2010

The Chinese state media has urged more innovation in CSR projects. Research has found a lack of collaboration between Chinese and multinational companies, and urges win-win corporation partnerships as the best way for nurturing innovation. Successful foreign companies such as Cisco have taken on this worldwide trend, and implement CSR policies with local partners to increase efficiency and reach the vulnerable groups they seek to serve. For more information see

Bank crisis hits public's trust in businessND

Brian Groom, Financial Times, 5 January 2010

New research confirms that the financial crisis continues to undermine consumer confidence — particularly with young people. The public remains sceptical, with the majority not seeing any improvements in corporate openness and honesty within the last year. Given that consumers tend to deepen their ties with brands they trust in tough times, companies would benefit by strengthening their CSR and ethics in the current climate. For more information see

Monitoring social media important for managing corporate reputation ND

Channel NewsAsia, 05 January 2010

Companies must develop social media strategies. This involves rigorously monitoring online conversations to avoid negative reputation fallout, and establishing formal policies and processes to guide engagement, such as forming special task groups, appointing online spokespersons and a role directly accountable for online media. Companies must also recognise cultural differences and target the appropriate channels and opinion leaders in their region—for example, while Facebook and Twitter are most prevalent globally, online forums are more influential in Asia. For more information see

How business interacts with governmentND

Andrea Dua, Kerrin Heil and Jon Wilkins, McKinsey Quarterly, January 2010

Government actions have significant effect on businesses, with 34 per cent of surveyed companies stating that ten per cent or more of their operating income is dependent on government policy and legislation. However, most businesses don’t have robust relations with government due to underdeveloped relationships and engagement with officials. Government engagement though, seems contingent on region with low levels in the United States and Europe along with Australia but high levels in China and India. Attitudes would need to change for the benefit of both actors. For more information see

India Inc and public affairs ND

R Gopalakrishnan, The Economic Times, 01 January 2010

Research shows that Indian citizens are most concerned with the issues that are deeply related to public policy. This poses an opportunity for business to contribute to the broader national agenda in the next decade. However, business needs to participate not only in traditional corporate subjects—such as infrastructure, economy and financial polices, but also to advance the social issues of justice and entrepreneurial freedom in order to contribute to the wider nation building agenda. For more information see

Measuring good-cause effects ND

Raymond Fisman, Forbes, 28 December 2009

Companies should reassess the benefits that corporate philanthropy actually brings to their business. A study on Ebay’s charitable giving program finds that while consumers prefer sellers who contribute to charity, the increase in profits generated is lower than the amount given away. However, sellers with lesser known brands and reputations benefit most, as a link with charity increases trust and credibility. For more information see

Charity begins at workND

Steve Mollman, The Wall Street Journal, 26 November 2009

Employees, both career veterans and new MBA graduates, are taking sabbaticals from work for volunteer positions. This trend is driven by CSR’s rising importance in business as well as the need to understand emerging markets. However, potential volunteers should ensure that the programs’ needs match their skills, as well as prepare their financial and legal matters before leaving. Companies, while being supportive, must keep in mind that it will be hard to reintegrate volunteer employees who have returned after a long time overseas. For more information see

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