Category Archives: CSR

Corporate social responsibility (CSR, also called corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, and responsible business) is a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders, as well as the environment. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.
The practice of CSR is subject to much debate and criticism. Proponents argue that there is a strong business case for CSR, in that corporations benefit in multiple ways by operating with a perspective broader and longer than their own immediate, short-term profits. Critics argue that CSR distracts from the fundamental economic role of businesses; others argue that it is nothing more than superficial window-dressing; still others argue that it is an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful multinational corporations. (From Wikipedia)

BP’s Next Challenge

The slow motion disaster that is unfortunately continuing to take shape in the Gulf of Mexico will undoubtedly become a significant case history in the fields of public relations, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and crisis management.

While British Petroleum has certainly been the victim of a worst-case scenario, they have also been woefully unprepared for a disaster that is obviously within the realm of possibility.  Good crisis planning could have probably predicted the current event and hopefully prodded some preparation to deal with it.

But from a PR perspective, BP has done a good job of accepting responsibility, admitting mistakes, being transparent about what is going on and I suppose when this is over, doing what is necessary to make sure it never happens again.  What is yet to be determined is how much BP is willing or able to make the innocent victims of the disaster whole.

The Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska showed the massive resources, both financial and in human capital, that are required to right a wrong of this magnitude.  And as the oil slick in the Gulf continues to grow and more communities are affected, the job just becomes bigger.  While the fragile eco-system of Prince William Sound is still recovering from the effects of its disaster, it is relatively sparsely populated compared to the communities of the Gulf of Mexico.  Cleaning up the oil and working to restore both the environment and the confidence of an angry public will be a massive undertaking.

Once the flow of oil is stopped, the real work will begin.  Let’s hope that BP is prepared.

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Filed under corporate social responsibility, Crisis Communications, CSR, Daniel Durazo, PR, Public Relations

My Bottled Water Conflict

 

Selling Water Can Be Fun and Profitable!

Selling Water Can Be Fun and Profitable!

I recently came across this article about the launch of Nestlé Waters first ever marketing campaign targeting Hispanics.  The campaign includes an endorsement deal with Cristina, TV spots on Univision, spot radio in major Hispanic markets, print advertising (print lives!) a consumer contest and in-store hoopla.

The best thing about all of this is that the ads feature Cristina talking about health topics, including the risks associated with obesity and diabetes.  The campaign was created by the fine folks at Castells & Asociados.

Obviously there are a lot of ways to sell bottled water and I applaud Nestlé and Castells for using their marketing muscle to get behind reducing obesity and diabetes in the Hispanic community.  This is a cause which I cannot endorse more strongly.

In 2005, one in four U.S. Hispanic adults was obese (not just overweight).  But what’s most alarming is the trend with children.  One in six Hispanic high school students is overweight and 24% of Mexican-American children aged 6 to 11 are overweight, compared to 20% for African American kids and 12% for non-Hispanic whites.  It’s well known that obesity can lead to higher insulin levels and type 2 diabetes as well as other health problems like asthma, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

There are factors that contribute to this situation, including genetics, that cannot be controlled.  But two major factors that we can impact are exercise and nutrition.  Any effort to get kids and their parents to dump the soda and other high calorie, low nutritional value foods, should be supported.  Everyone can benefit from drinking more water and from using water as a substitute for high calorie beverages.

But here’s the rub.  If you’ve been paying attention, bottled water producers are bottling and selling a product we don’t really need (tap water works just fine) and creating a nasty, land-filling byproduct in the form of plastic bottles that live forever.

So what’s a health conscious enviro-wannabe like yours-truly to do?  I’d gladly give Nestlé my frequently sought, yet seldom given, stamp of approval if: Nestlé also educated its consumers on the need to recycle those ugly little plastic bottles and better yet, provided an incentive for them to do so.  

After that, I’d hope that folks would get tired of expensive bottled water and turn to taps, filters and reusable bottles.  But one step at a time.

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Filed under Climate Change, corporate social responsibility, CSR, Green Marketing, Hispanic marketing, Multicultural Marketing

Sustainable Giving

In her blog The Philanthropic Family, Sharon Schneider discusses the merits of Product (RED) and its new music service, as well as the controversy over embedded giving.  You can make your own judgments, but I like embedded giving because it is sustainable and provides a predictable stream of revenue for philanthropies.  If you’re a CFO at a philanthropy, predictable revenue makes life easier.

She also points out the business benefits of Strategic Corporate Philanthropy.  In a nutshell, this refers to a company providing its products/services/expertise to a community non-profit.  This is not only great Corporate Social Responsibility policy, it’s a great marketing tool as well.  It works because non-profits tend to be deeply ingrained into the fabric of their community and often have patrons and board members that may be qualified buyers of their benefactor’s products and services.

The agency I work for recently developed a website to support the activities of a well known non-profit. Providing these services allowed us near-the-top billing as a sponsor for our in-kind donation, generated some great publicity for us and maybe even helped with our name recognition in the right circles.  Not to mention it made us feel great.

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Filed under corporate social responsibility, CSR

Redefining the Gold Standard

 

Joseph Michelli

Joseph Michelli

In his new book The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Dr. Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. discusses the “service value” that sets Ritz-Carlton apart from its competition.

 

In a tanking economy (sorry for being glass half-empty), the near future prospects of super luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton seem to be far from rosy.  But as Michelli points out, the company’s constant quest for excellence has elevated the luxury experience to a true art form.  And there will always be buyers for art.

As I commented at BusinessWeek’s excerpt from the book, Ritz-Carlton approaches Corporate Social Responsibility with the same dedication to excellence they are famous for in their customer service.  This is a rare and wonderful thing indeed.

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Filed under corporate social responsibility, CSR

Project Plant It!

One of the most interesting and complex CSR/Green Marketing efforts I’ve been involved in has beenDominion’s Project Plant It!

This award winning program is a partnership between Dominion, the Arbor Day Foundation and elementary schools in regions served by the company. Project Plant It! was successfully piloted in 2007, when nearly 8,000 elementary school students in Greater Richmond, Va., learned about the value of trees in our ecosystem and how to recognize and care for trees. Project Plant It! enhanced the classroom learning experience and increased comprehension of subject matter to meet state learning standards content by providing a hands-on experience for each child. Continue reading

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Filed under corporate social responsibility, CSR, Green Marketing