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:

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

Shareholders matter, but employees matter moreND

Wong Wei Kong, Business Times Singapore, 17 November 2009

Companies should ‘wrap up the downturn’ in a socially responsible way and resist the temptation to place shareholders before their stakeholders in tough economic times. Recent studies indicate that companies who follow stakeholder theory have more motivated employees, which in turn has a positive correlation with stock performance. This is a warning against companies paying generous dividends to shareholders while cutting employee wages. For more information see

Corporate affairs calls in the big gunsND

Geoff Allen, The Australian, 13 November 2009

Australian companies increasingly recognise that managing social and political influences will enhance their reputation and competitive advantage — giving rise to corporate affairs being a high-level strategic function. Companies are applying the best practice of integrating lower level sub-functions to provide a holistic understanding of their government, media, community and internal stakeholders. Professionals with high profile political experience are best equipped to help businesses navigate the complex political terrain. For more information see

Social media require companies to embrace Community Relations 2.0 era ND

Susan Thomas, BCCC, 9 November 2009

Social media dramatically increases the impact, reach, and speed at which disgruntled communities are formed. Companies need to devote strategic resources to understand their 2.0 communities in a proactive manner. This will help businesses identify important resources for marketing. Customer service and product development, as well as other valuable partners need to advance their organisational mission. For more information see

Tough times, new tactics ND

Shelly Banjo, The Wall Street Journal, 9 November 2009

Top executives give advice on how to balance philanthropy and business objectives in tough economic times. These include taking a long term approach to investment, such as supporting the green industry or funding sustainable (rather than ad hoc) disaster relief solutions; advocating wider social problems to existing ethically conscious customers; or integrating philanthropy into the business — particularly through employee volunteer incentives. For more information see

Companies use blogs to tell storiesND

Kristina Peterson, Wall Street Journal, October 2009

Corporations are increasingly offering access to employee blogs to media and public groups seeking engagement. This helps with meeting journalists’ deadlines and overcoming difficulties in arranging immediate access to spokespeople or executives. However, companies must ensure that employee blogs provide quotable information that is both relevant and appropriate. For more information see

The Asian sustainability rating ND

Asian CSR Rating, October 2009

CSR Asia’s new Asian Sustainability Rating benchmarks the top 200 companies across ten Asian markets. A majority of the top ten entries are Australian companies — ANZ, BHP, Westpac, Telstra, NAB, Rio Tinto, Woolworths, Wesfarmers and Origin — along with India’s Tata and ITC and HSBC of Hong Kong. The results were based on 51 sustainability indicators and compared with the companies’ GRI and GC results. For more information see

My say: The changing landscape of CSR ND

Karen Hoh, The Edge Malaysia, 19 October 2009

Companies in the Asia Pacific are under pressure from consumers to behave more responsibly. Research identifies that the major drivers behind reshaping stakeholder expectations within the region are social and environmental challenges, government activism, the growing influence of NGOs, internet and mobile communications and passionate consumers and employees. For more information see

Goldman’s bonus pool puts it in a public relations bindND

Graham Bowley, New York Times, 16 October 2009

The financial crisis has exposed companies to negative public opinion over successful profit results, with exuberant executive bonuses seen as greedy and irresponsible. Some companies are increasing charitable donations and readjusting their compensation practices in order to improve their reputation. Others are resisting change, defending the need to reward employees for good performance, but are finding it hard to balance the demands between profit and reputation. For more information see

Building private-sector diplomacy ND

McKinsey Quarterly, 14 October 2009

PR expert Richard Edelman advocates for businesses to engage in ‘private sector diplomacy’ with their widening networks of stakeholder groups. In today’s experience-driven society, characterised by a lack of trust in corporate ethical integrity and dispersion of authority, companies must converse with stakeholders through informal social media forums on a continuous basis in order to be heard. For more information see

Shareholder activism ND

Rachel Nickless, Australian Financial Review, October 2009

Shareholders are becoming more vocal, demanding that companies do more for the wider community, even at an expense to their dividends. One leading company responded radically to a confrontational AGM in 2008 with measures such as a global internal survey, strategic funding and employee volunteering opportunities — all based on the philosophy that CSR provides a common social purpose with stakeholders and is positively linked to the bottom line. For more information see

Size matters ND

Catherine Fox, Australian Financial Review, October 2009

Harvard Business School guru Rosabeth Kanter asserts in her new book that the new ‘supercorp’ business model allows global enterprises to be socially and environmentally accountable while seeking profits at the same time. Multinational supercorps have the potential to effect real change, given their immense capacity, global reach, and desire to endure in the long term. For more information see

How to deal with corruption in ChinaND

Shaun Rein, Forbes, 7 October 2009

Recent high profile bribery scandals in China concerning Coca Cola and McKinsey are a warning for companies to be proactive against unscrupulous commercial behaviour. Companies can implement checks and balances, rotate employees, and play the ‘helpless foreigner’ to prevent employees from taking personal kickbacks or forging unhealthy relationships with suppliers. For more information see

Snappier sustainability reporting can cut PR fluffND

Natalie Toohey, Australian Financial Review, 30 September 2009

Businesses are warned against over reporting and excessive emphasis on benchmarking tools and global indices, which may overwhelm both stakeholders, complicate and confuse the key issues and render it as PR spin. Companies should simplify their sustainability reports and only include issues that matter to and reflect the nature of their business and their stakeholders’ expectations. For more information see

Excessive bonuses to be banned in war on greed ND

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, The Independent, 28 September 2009

Leaders of the G20 largest industrialised nations have agreed to introduce new laws to ban exorbitant corporate handouts and the automatic payment bonuses on a per annum basis. The measures are a response to the financial crisis and seek to ensure long-term performance by company executives. Politicians urge that companies show voluntary restraint with this year’s bonuses in anticipation of the new laws, to be in forced next year. For more information see

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