In mid-April, Citigroup launched a $100 million global ad campaign titled "This is Citigroup." Using images of elderly people, and people from Hong Kong to Brazil, the ads portray a caring bank, committed to local communities. But the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which has waged a boycott against Citigroup for the past two years, says the bank completely ignores environmental and social concerns and is one of the biggest contributors to global warming.
Corporate Social Responsibility
On April 14, McDonalds issued a self-congratulatory Report on Corporate Social Responsibility, boasting that it is "working with experts" such as The Natural Step to address concerns about "globalization, nutrition, and the environment." But according to author and leading Natural Step advocate Paul Hawken, the report is "a low water mark for the concept of sustainability and the promise of corporate social responsibility.
Tobacco behemoth Philip Morris executives announced late last year that it was time for a full-scale corporate makeover centering on changing the company's name to Altria. "After spending the quarter billion dollars ceaselessly touting their philanthropic efforts, the tobacco giant still ranked second to last -- beating only exploding tire maker Bridgestone Firestone -- in a survey of corporate reputations, conducted by The Reputation Institute and Harris Interactive.
With the words "corporate responsibility" finding their way into the mouths of more and more business leaders, PR giant Ketchum has launched a new corporate responsibility unit, promoting what Ketchum's Raymond Kotcher calls a "21st century management philosophy that advances commercial and financial success by demonstrating respect for ethical values, people, communities, and the physical and social environment." Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR Worldwide, is also leapin
Peter Sandman's advice to corporations on "outrage management" was first detailed in PR Watch by Australian writer Bob Burton. Now Bob has contributed a chapter to a new book, Moving Mountains: Communities Confront Mining and Globalization, published by Contemporary Oxford Press/Mineral Policy Institute.
James S. Kunen works in corporate communications and muses on Enron's 'Visions and Values' statement. Kunen notes that "a statement of Vision and Values, setting forth lofty goals and bedrock beliefs, is an absolute must for the modern corporation. The "V&V," as it's called, pleases investors and customers ... and supports employee morale by reminding one and all that the company strives to do good, not just do well. ...
Burson-Marsteller's hiring of Lord Melchett is the focus of professor George Monbiot's weekly column in The Guardian: "Because regulation works, companies will do whatever they can to prevent it. They will threaten governments with disinvestment, and the loss of thousands of jobs. They will use media campaigns to recruit public opinion to their cause. But one of their simplest and most successful strategies is to buy their critics.
ePublicRelations president Ross Irvine offers his take on Lord Melchett joining Burson-Marsteller. Irvine writes: "Burson-Marsteller's London office has a new cash cow... Lord Melchett has joined B-M as a consultant in the company's corporate social responsibility unit. Here, he can be charged out a high rate, earn a good salary plus expenses, contribute significantly to the bottom line, satisfy WWP Group shareholders who own B-M, and offer little value to clients. ... The marriage of B-M and Lord Melchett raises some interesting questions and situations.
The British press is lambasting and lampooning both the Burson-Marsteller PR firm and their latest PR hire, Lord Melchett. Here is a satirical 'memo' written as if it leaked from inside B-M: "Lord Melchett will be heading up our new 'corporate conscience' desk, which will work to uncover the hidden humanity inside organisations such as Monsanto... I can't help but think that if this initiative had been around back when Nikolae Ceausescu was our client, he might still be in a position to pay his invoice. ...
Burson-Marsteller's hiring of Lord Melchett, the former director of Greenpeace UK, prompted the Independent to examine the growing trend of British environmentalists "who have decided to work for the blue chip giants they once sought to humble ...