How CSR is changing the Ways Companies Communicate

<p>I would like to add my thoughts to Christian's posting about how the current emphasis on corporate responsibility is changing the way companies and organizations communicate. I have included a link to something I wrote called <a href="http://www.cauxroundtable.org/PDF/the%20new%20pr.pdf ">'The New PR'</a> - it's free to download so there's no commerical interest being promoted.</p>
<p>Here's a couple excerpts:</p>
<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: x-small;">... It became apparent that we were changing the way that the company communicated. Rather than speaking &lsquo;to&rsquo; the various constituencies through established statements and prepared press releases, we were developing and engaging in a real dialogue. We embraced transparency as a more effective way reach out to those who were integral to the company&rsquo;s continued success. At the same time, the principles of transparency served us well when we were faced with the occasional unfavorable events. When we had problems or &ldquo;bad&rdquo; news, we proactively reached out to our employees, regulators and the public &ndash; directly and through the media. This helped to further enhance the image of the company as well. I call this transformation the &ldquo;new&rdquo; public relations. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: x-small;">The reasons for our success were that we recognized that the principles of sustainability not only redefined the company as a &lsquo;good&rsquo; citizen, but also that the increasing stakeholder interest (demand) for corporate responsibility provided an opportunity for us to become an more attractive neighbor, employer, customer in addition to the preferred supplier compared with our less socially-conscious competitors. </span></p>
<p>#break#</p>
<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">At the same time we were fortunate that the company leadership recognized that the goal of our efforts was to effectively engage stakeholders, and could (and should) not be measured in column inches or minutes of airtime but rather in direct business enhancements - good customer and supplier relationships, reducing opposition to growth, enhancing speed to market, fostering a favorable regulatory climate and requirements and enhancing human resources ability to hire the best talent. These things are harder to measure, but ultimately are the best way to demonstrate the value of our efforts <em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">to the success and growth of the business</em> and built buy-in for the program as we went along.</p>
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">Today, stakeholders are becoming more and more insistent that businesses act in a manner that is socially responsible. In the United States this is primarily focused on environmental impacts such as carbon emissions, use of natural resources (such as wood, stone and water) and energy consumption. A company that bases its culture and actions on sustainability is at a strategic advantage with stakeholders who care about these issues because when this culture redefines the company, PR can take advantage of this &ldquo;convenient truth.&rdquo;</p>
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="color: windowtext">The changing information needs of both stakeholder and companies are redefining the role of corporate communications departments and professionals including community, shareholder, government, and employee relations. Companies are recognizing that an increasingly savvy &ndash; some would say cynical &ndash; audience is becoming more and more discerning about messages that corporations are sending. <strong>The &ldquo;new PR&rdquo; requires corporate communications professionals to modify their strategy, and refine the structure and content of all manner of communications vehicles including Web sites, annual reports, executive speeches and presentations to include sustainability and to integrate those messages and principles.</strong> </span></p>
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="color: windowtext">Progressive companies have recognized the true power of the Web and made the transition from using the Internet as a source of information into a forum for dialogue; rather than attempting to stifle criticism, they find the net provides them with an unparalleled opportunity to tap into, and respond when appropriate, to what is being said about their enterprise.</span></p>