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:

Internet Time: who dares, wins — Facebook ND


Oon Yeoh, The Edge Singapore, 4 May 2009

Yeoh describes how a small Malaysian company used Facebook — getting employees to post teasers on their online statuses — for a promotional competition. While simultaneous newspaper ads generated almost double the amount of responses, the Facebook initiative was a clear success given its zero cost and highly unorthodox nature. The initiative also increased employee participation and pride in their organisation. For more information see www.theedgesingapore.com

Microsoft unveils web site to showcase community impactND


Susan Thomas, Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship, 29 April 2009

Microsoft Local Impact Map is a new online resource that provides a comprehensive database of case studies, data as well as personal stories from beneficiaries of the company’s corporate citizenship initiatives across the globe. The web tool allows stakeholders to track the positive impact Microsoft has made on local communities, as it pursues the mission of extending opportunity and sustainable economic growth through technology. For more information see www.bccc.net

Corporate blogs and 'tweets' must keep SEC in mind ND


Cari Tuna, The Wall Street Journal, 26 April 2009

Companies wishing to tap into online social media must balance their legal and regulatory obligations with the need for credibility with online audiences. While blogs and ‘tweets’ should be transparent and informal to be effective, unregulated corporate posts may damage a company’s reputation, invite criticism and contravene information disclosure laws. Companies are encouraged to devise a social-media policy and include standard disclaimer prior to going online in order to decrease the risks. For more information see www.online.wsj.com

It’s a virtual world ND


Rita King, strategy+business, 21 April 2009

Some forward thinking multinational companies have begun applying online virtual platforms to facilitate internal communication. A virtual meeting place would connect global workforces, allowing them to conduct meetings and interact in real-time, while advanced technologies would facilitate file sharing and communicate abstract ideas more effectively. While virtual technologies are predicted to be 2 to 5 years away from adoption by mainstream businesses, they have potential to substantially lower costs, as well as increase productivity and efficiency. For more information see www.strategy-business.com

CSR and social enterprises: combining profit and philanthropy in times of crisisND


Ariel McGuinnes, James Pellegrin, Yin Shum, Jason Teo and Judy Wu, Knowledge@Wharton, 20 April 2009

The authors believe that the extreme consumer backlash against what is perceived as inadequate responses by multinationals following the Sichuan earthquake, should force them to re-evaluate their CSR strategies. In particular, organisational structures and processes should include escalation mechanisms with set decision criteria to facilitate timely and appropriate responses, management should understand the cultural expectations of their social obligations to make donations, while active online management strategy should be adopted to track online opinion and identify key stakeholders. For more information see www.knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu

Why corporate responsibility is a survivorND


Michael Skapinker, Financial Times, 20 April 2009

Some of the largest companies such as Cadbury and Wal-Mart are increasing their CSR activities despite the recession. Fair trade and eco-friendly strategies are seen as a commercial necessity to ensure the sustainable supply of raw materials, local industries and decrease production costs in the long-term. Research indicates that while consumers prefer ethical products, they will not pay more than non-ethical equivalents. This increases the significance of business orientated and cost neutral CSR programs. For more information see www.ft.com

CSR Watch — momentum still good despite poor economy ND


Pornnalat Prachyakorn, Bangkok Post, 11 April 2009

A 2009 CSR survey by the Thaipat Institute reveals that a majority of companies will either expand or maintain their current CSR activities, with the top issues being education, the environment, and the society. However, over half of the companies surveyed are yet to consider CSR or sustainability reporting, which has prompted calls to raise awareness and know-how on the competitive strategic advantages of CSR programs for businesses within the region. For more information see www.bangkokpost.com

Employee engagement — let the champions reignND


Andrew Bold, Ethical Corp, 8 April 2009.

‘Champions’ of corporate responsibility are employees who take proactive initiative on promoting ethical behaviours within their own organisations. It is suggested that companies should establish formal networks and systems to harness growing staff enthusiasm for in-house CSR practices. Current examples adopt a combination of champion networks, individual role models, and international buddy systems, as well as both financial and non-financial incentives. For more information see www.ethicalcorp.com

It doesn’t take long to find the cynicND


Mark Jones, The Australian Financial Review, March 2009

Web 2.0 technologies such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs merge the roles between customer care, marketing, PR and communications, allowing companies to be more flexible and engage more directly with real customers. Despite privacy concerns, it is observed that large progressive companies who have invested in experimental social media programs, are beginning to reap the benefits as the technologies gain mainstream recognition. For more information see www.afr.com

20 years on from Exxon Valdez: what progress for corporate responsibility?ND


Adrien Lopez, Ethical Corp, 27 March 2009

Lopez finds the legacy of Exxon Valdez’s 1989 oil spill to be bittersweet. On one hand, the incident triggered a wave of socially responsible initiatives including the Valdez Principles, the founding of Ceres and the creation of GRI, and the promotion of CSR ideals. Yet Exxon’s refusal to accept full responsibility and its neglect of the victims to provide a timely settlement has not seemed to affect its current exceptional financial performance, thus undermining much progress reported to have been made in CSR values. For more information see www.ethicacorp.com

Four ways in which enterprises are using TwitterND


Gartner Inc, 26 March 2009

Gartner has identified four methods for companies to harness the Twitter technology. Twitter may function as a direct marketing channel, supporting official corporate communications; may benefit the company indirectly, as consequence of positive remarks by employees who are good twitters; as an internal communications system — though this is not highly recommended, and for inbound signalling through the twitter streams and search tools. Gartner advocates caution; citing concerns with brand impostors, confidentiality and other limitations of the technology. For more information see www.gartner.com

CSR: firms these days have to do good to do wellND


The Nation (Thailand), 24 March 2009

It is argued that online social media should be harnessed to maximise the value of CSR in creating positive experiences, goodwill and trust. Social media is able to promote CSR programs to groups who are traditionally outside their direct reach, and in a more trustworthy information source as it is passed personally between users. Companies are recommended to concentrate on and build a strong presence in one network, and use social media ‘super stars’ help promote their programs through informal networks. For more information see www.nationmultimedia.com

The financial crisis and CSRND


Bob Flemming, Business Times (Singapore), 23 March 2009

Present CSR activities should be carefully evaluated based on their impact on the threefold of revenue, community and environment. A distinction is made between corporate philanthropy and CSR as a business strategy. As such, CSR activities that are essential to a business’ core offerings, reputation and community standing should be identified and protected against cost cutting, while the non-essentials should be removed to increase effectiveness. For more information see www.businesstimes.com.sg

Capital fightND


The Deal, March 2009

The article argues that a new Government and changes in the global political environment have catalysed a flurry of corporate lobbying activities — particularly as the two biggest issues currently facing the government, climate change and the global financial crisis, impact on a wide range of businesses across various industries. The increased interaction between corporations and Canberra indicate that strong relationships are most valuable during tough times, with many hired lobbyists appearing to have experience in the government, and business with traditionally contractual relationships seeking to re-engage with government as a potential client. For more information see www.theaustralian.news.com.au

The business of collective thinkingND


Rebecca Turner, The Deal, March 2009

The article presents the debate on the value of web 2.0 technologies in business. On one hand, new media democratise the organisation by breaking down traditional hierarchies, increasing innovation and co-operation between suppliers. Others on the other hand warn of negative impacts on diminishing management’s powers, confusing the decision making, intellectual property concerns and the risk of overestimating the judgement of online communities over professionals. Either way, web 2.0 technologies are set to challenge current conventions and values on the business hierarchy. For more information see www.theaustralian.news.com.au

Nonprofit squeeze: donations down, volunteers upND


Dan Kadlec, Time, 19 March 2009

The recent change in the nature of donor support — from providing funding to volunteering time — is seen to pose several challenges for nonprofits unprepared for the historic influx of volunteerism. Where volunteers are not provided with adequate training or are turned away, negative experiences may lower retention and return rates as well as alienate potential future donors. The challenge remains on finding the most efficient way to utilised volunteers in the face of decreasing financial certainty. For more information see www.time.com

Reform the architecture of regulationND


Henry Paulson, Financial Times, 17 March 2009

A complete reform of the current regulatory architecture is called as a response to the financial crisis. A consistent and objective-based approach should be adopted to ensure that all businesses are subject to the same standards regulations irrespective of the particular form it takes. It is argued also that the Federal Government should have more authority and access to information to all organisations to keep track of risk across the financial system. For more information see www.ft.com

From ranks of jobless, a flood of volunteersND


Julie Bosman, The New York Times, 16 March 2009

Nonprofits in the US are reporting an increase in volunteer numbers as newly unemployed professionals seek to volunteer their skills, fill up time and explore new opportunities. While smaller organisations are struggling to accommodate this recent influx of manpower and fears mass desertion once the economy recovers, there are hopes that such volunteering experiences will create an appreciation and support for philanthropic activities by career professionals after they return to paid work. For more information see www.nytimes.com

Soon: A social stock exchange? ND


Lin Yanqin, Today (Singapore), 16 March 2009

Yanqin argues that a social stock exchange should be introduced as social ventures begin to achieve high growth and organisational capacity. This would help the public define and assess the value of individual companies, as well as improving accountability and trust. At present, South Africa has a Social Investment Exchange while the UK will set up its own version later this year. However, social enterprises must avoid the risk of diluting their social mission when faced with such business-profit based assessment criteria. For more information see todayonline.com

Yes, CEOs should Facebook and TwitterND


Mathew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta, Forbes, 11 March 2009

Social software has the potential to boost productivity and should be adopted into business practice rather being support for short-term marketing campaigns only. Web 2.0 enables CEOs to connect directly with employees and customers, companies to their stakeholders, and to gauge the public perception. However, the social media should be introduced through an open and transparent corporate culture. For more information see www.forbes.com.

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