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:

Big brands can be inept at defusing blog storms over recalls ND


Bernhard Warner, The Washington Post, 7 March 2010

Big brands must be prepared to respond to concerned consumer and media groups as product recall hysteria continues to sweep the US. Traditional issues management approaches, such as hiring professional spokespeople, media coaching executives or remaining silent on an issue are no longer effective in the age of social media and online activism. Companies must use their existing online channels to speak with and respond to their stakeholders. For more information see www.washingtonpost.com

Managing reputation in New Zealand ND


Senate Communication Council, 5 March 2010

A survey by the Senate and Baseline Consultancy have conducted a review of how reputation is regarded and managed by companies in New Zealand, finding that 92 per cent of business executives considered reputation a prime business asset. The report provides 10 recommendations for companies, focusing on investing, researching and insuring their reputation, approaches to strategic communication and media strategies, and monitoring competition and the external environment. For more information see www.senatecommunications.co.nz

Poverty alleviation as a CSR activityND


Edward Probir Mondol, Financial Express, 4 March 2010

Companies need to adjust their social performance indicators to recognise the unique needs of the developing world. CSR remains too focused on ‘development’, and too little on helping poor or marginalised people in countries such as Bangladesh, where poverty alleviation initiatives offer the best solution to existing social problems. Companies can apply the UN’s Millennium Development goal to reduce global poverty by helping people meet basic needs in housing, food, education, employment and health. For more information see www.financialexpress.com

Car makers find ‘safety in numbers' with recallsND


Barrie McKenna, The Globe and Mail, 3 March 2010

Toyota’s safety crisis poses both positive and negative effects for the automotive industry. Management experts believe that Toyota’s plight has created ‘safety in numbers’ for other companies to come clean about defects. Yet the Toyota’s recalls, in addition to over zealous recalls by other companies (such as GM) for minor defects or those occurring after warrantee, have roused calls for tighter regulations, which may stifle innovation within the industry. For more information see www.theglobeandmail.com

CR announces 100 best corporate citizens listND


Corporate Responsibility Magazine, 03 March 2010

The 2010 list of best corporate citizens list ranks HP, Intel, GM, IBM, Kimberly Clarke, Abbot Labs, Bristol-Myers, Coca-Cola, gap and Hess Corp in the top ten. Companies were assessed using publicly available information relating to the areas of Environment, Climate Change, Human Rights, Philanthropy, Employee Relations, Financial Performance, and Governance. Some companies were issued ‘yellow cards’ for pending legal action or investigation, while one was eliminated for proven illegal activities. For more information see www.thecro.com

Scrutiny of firms in China mountsND


Dan Levin, International Herald Tribune, 2 March 2010

US companies doing business in China are under scrutiny, following Google’s move to resist the government’s demands on censorship. Thirty IT companies including Amazon, Apple, eBay and Verizon have been summoned to a hearing on global internet freedom in US. So far, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, have voluntarily signed onto the Global Network Initiatives’ code of conduct, which offers members’ evaluation and accountability mechanisms to judge and encourage responsible practice. For more information see www.global.nytimes.com

The credit crunch choked off funding for good causesND


Tara Loader Wilkinson, The Wall Street Journal, 1 March 2010

The global recession has significantly affected philanthropic donations by different groups in varying degrees. Contributions from the general public in the UK and US remain stable, but are expected to drop as people start to feel the recession bite. Wealthy individuals are carefully cutting back donations and asking for more accountability and transparency of recipient organisations. Corporate donations have fallen the most, by around 8 per cent in the US and 20 per cent in the UK. For more information see www.online.wsj.com

Don't delete the e-messengerND


Aparna Nancherla, T+D, February 2010

A communication ROI study has found that a majority of companies recognise the competitive advantage of social media over traditional print forms, and plan to increase their use in 2010. Further, the key reasons other companies fail to adopt social media can be attributed to insufficient resources, knowledge, capability and support by senior management or the legal department, rather than a lack of desire to do so. For more information see www.astd.org/TD/

Engagement still stable in spite of pay cut trendND


Claire Churchard, People Management, 11 February 2010

A survey reveals that UK companies retain high levels of staff engagement and satisfaction. Employees feel better about their companies and have improved relationships with managers despite reduced or frozen pay. This may be an effect from businesses’ efforts to contribute to local communities and the environment, and to allay employee fears of redundancies in uncertain times. For more information see www.peoplemanagement.co.uk

Toyota fights to save reputationND


Kenny Lim, Media, 11 February 2010

Experts observe that Asian markets will be minimally affected by Toyota’s recent recalls, with consumers likely to regard it as a temporary slip-up against the brand’s lifetime reputation of quality and reliability. Accordingly, rather than adding to the news, Toyota should not make additional communication efforts to manage this crisis. However, other car brands may take advantage of the situation by seeking to plug the need for a reliable automotive brand in Asia. For more information see www.media.asia.com

Partnerships in three different settings — Do you know what kind of cross-sector partnership you are in? ND


Motoyo Kamiya, CSR Asia, 10 February 2010

The nature and relationship features of a partnership change according to the setting under which the partnership takes place. ‘Policy making’, ‘gift giving’ and ‘operation/implementation’ settings focus primarily on different concerns, such as decision-making powers, philanthropic donations and strategic sponsorships, or multiple collaborations to achieve a common goal. Classifying the partnerships into their correct setting type may help to clarify confusing cross-sector relationships. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

Old rules still apply to social mediaND


Natalie Toohey, Australian Financial Review, 9 February 2010

Businesses must apply the traditional rules of good corporate communication to social media, as they mature into a mainstream tool for stakeholder and reputation management. Corporations must be strategic, and be able to identify and selectively target their core stakeholders groups. At present, many Australian businesses are either too controlling or fail to properly moderate and maintain their social media presence, resulting in unconvincing corporate messages that do not resonate with online audiences. For more information see www.afr.com

Corporate philanthropy shifts ND


Ainslie Chandler, BRW, 04 February 2010

A recent report by the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs reveals that, in light of the economic downturn, Australian companies will likely aim their philanthropy towards community investment, employee engagement and volunteering activities, and away from marketing-related sponsorships. The focus on deeper, long-term relationships, built on explicit mutual obligations is underlined by key performance indicators and highlights business’ efforts to avoid reputational damage in current tight economic times. For more information see www.brw.com.au

Morale is priority for France telecomND


Ruth Bender and Max Colchester, The Wall Street Journal, 4 February 2010

Unions have blamed France Telecoms’ negative corporate culture for a spate of employee suicides. Many companies are under pressure to slash costs in the face of decreased demand for fixed-line phone services in Europe and have introduced employee redeployment and worsening working conditions. France Telecom’s new incoming CEO promises to address staff morale and keep site closures at a minimum in order to show goodwill towards workers and unions. For more information see www.wsjonline.com

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 www.online.wsj.com

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 www.probonoaustralia.com.au

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 www.strategyonline.ca

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 www.pwc.com

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 www.csrwiretalkback.tumblr.com

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 www.iabc.com/cw/

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