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:

Consumers trust that’s good for the soleND

John Russell, Ethical Corporation, May 2009

Jeff Swartz, CEO of Timberland, believes that the financial crisis will encourage businesses to build their CSR profiles to protect their brand reputation. While proactive initiatives may create risks, Swartz believes that they are necessary as consumers begin to regard business as social institutions. Social capital may be accumulated through green projects, transparency measures, establishing ethical supply chains, and increased consumer engagement using web 2.0 technologies. For more information see

How to maximise employee wellbeingND

Emily Ford, The Times, 13 May 2009

Employee wellbeing programs are reported to be on the rise as companies realise their benefits for increasing productivity and decreasing absentee rates. Businesses can take responsibility for employees’ absence by responding to their needs, monitoring mental and physical wellbeing, and active communication, as well as offer a range of lifestyle choices and tailored offerings that could help combat inertia. For more information see

Campaigns 2.0ND

Oliver Balch, Ethical Corporation, May 2009

The activist community is increasingly applying online social media, embracing its ability to reach and mobilise people as well as gain mass exposure cheaply and quickly. This has created a dilemma for the business sector traditionally lacking online ‘street-cred’. Companies are encouraged to recognise the unique advantages of e-communication — reaching niche markets, initiating open dialogue and direct engagement through innovated initiatives with consumers in real time. For more information see

Creating passion in the workplaceND

Pornnalat Prachyakorn, Bangkok Post, 12 May 2009

Internal CSR activities recognise that employees are the most valuable assets for supporting a company’s growth. KPMG’s ‘People Passion’ program provides various staff development programs and open communication channels in order to promote a supportive working environment. The author believes that this also benefits the company, as employees are encouraged to contribute value to their company by making compromises and changing work habits as required in tough economic times. For information see

Ethics in a recessionND

Ethical Corporation, May 2009

The editor believes that companies who invest in building the socially reputable brands will be rewarded, as consumer criticism of the financial sector moves into all other areas of business. While it is impossible to address all online concerns given the immediacy and multiplicity of web 2.0 channels, companies are advised to ‘lighten up’ and embrace the spontaneity of social media if they are to effectively communicate with stakeholders online. For more information see

How to…build a partnership with charityND

Carly Chynoweth, The Times, 6 May 2009

Ten recommendations are provided for businesses seeking to partner with nonprofits. Partnerships are built on mutually beneficial goals rather than on philanthropic or donor recipient relationships. As such, businesses should be honest and transparent with their nonprofits partners on their motivations and needs, consider the ‘mission fit’, and apply business management practises to ensure that goals are delivered. For more information see

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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