Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Corporate Social Responsibilty

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as most people are aware, “is commonly described by its promoters as aligning a company's activities with the social, economic and environmental expectations of its "stakeholders" according to http://sourcewatch.org/. CSR has been a growing trend with companies, especially international ones. These responsibilities to the public and the environment have made CSR a huge “market” over the past decade.
When I say “market,” I mean that companies seem to be making a whole lot of money off their CSR reports. Selling their services through their good deeds. Now, who is to say that the companies aren’t really concerned about how their production or service effects society or the world?
Whether companies care or not, they are still making big bucks off of reporting how they have performed their civic duty. Take Nestle for example, they have produced their first “Shared Value Report” this year. CSR Newswire says this report is meant to show “figures on the impact of the business activities on the environment and society across the world.” They reported a reduction in greenhouse gas emission, reduced water consumption, investments in environmental related industrial improvements, and provided full technical assistance to over 60,000 farmer in the developing world. Nestle has operations in almost every country in the world and is the largest food and beverage company.
Companies have realized the money that can come from making people feel good about companies they do business with. The U.S., I know is different than most European countries in their attention to social responsibilities. Americans are not the most likely to boycott a company if they employ children in their factories, or companies produce the largest amount of toxic chemicals with production. Americans seem to either not be in the know about these situations or, they don’t really pay attention to it unless it affects them personally. I can’t say whether that is because we are spoiled, we just don’t know about it, or we aren’t accustomed to doing anything about it.
I do believe CSR is important to the business world and the social world. Taking care of each other and our surroundings is crucial to continued success. I just wonder whether companies really care or is it just a trend sort of like “going green?” Is the fact that bad social practices can cost a business a ton of money or its livelihood the driving force behind its social responsibility?
Comments are welcome and opposing views too! I would love to hear what others think about CSR.
Great sites to check out:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Censorship: How much control should governments have?

Freedom of information and human rights seems to be an expectation of most Americans. We have been taught that we have the right to information, our own opinion, ideas, and the right to speak freely about it. That is not to say that certain things are not available, but its not the norm for someone to come arrest me for trying to look up unavailable information. I have the right to Google pretty much anything I want and if the information or data has been blocked, then I will receive a nice little message that tells me its not available. In China on the other hand, you can be arrested, tried, and sentenced to five years in prison even though their constitution includes freedom of expression. I can understand why the government wants to censor what their citizens are exposed to due to the nature of their government, but how can everyone still sit by and watch it happen?
Internet censorship is the control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. Internet censorship is common in countries such as China , Vietnam , North Korea , Cuba and Thailand . Citizens of these countries can be punished for trying to access unauthorized websites or finding ways to visit these sites or even sending emails with unapproved information. China has been in the spotlight most recently for its stringent censorship before the 2008 Olympics. Activists have been arrested and are being tried and sentenced to the maximum for breaking the law. Many governments censor what their citizens are privileged to in order to limit their knowledge of the outside world and to keep the outside world from knowing what goes on in their countries.
The censorship of information can be a good thing such as in Australia where they censor pornographic websites. It is argued that the “moral minority” are the only people who want Internet censorship. I can understand that but also, if you think about the actual standards of morals over the past 50 years, their has been a huge change in acceptability of things that were once considered socially unacceptable. Would’t censorship be considered positive in the case of child pornography?
I enjoy my freedom of voicing my opinion and having access to information to support my opinion. Access to information is key in the U.S. due to our want and need for expression of ideas. We are, after all considered “the land of opportunity.” If you censor the information that helps people build opportunities and cut off people’s access to information, how can people expect our country to flourish?
I believe in the right to information in order to gain knowledge. The accessibility of information is vital to the growth of a democracy, but what about other countries? How can countries watch as human rights are violated and still support a country for its unfair treatment of its people? The blocking of pornography or sites like that may be positive in a sense, but if you censor one thing how can you know what will be censored next? It may be only the beginning of a long list of things a government thinks you should not have access to. How much influence should governments have over what we know and are privileged to know?
Feel free to leave comments or thoughts you may have on the censorship of information or the human rights watch. I would be happy to hear what other people think of what is going on with the growth and access to the Internet and information.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDy8O94J4Po video on the Reporters Without Borders

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How Facebook could be a successful communication tool

Chat rooms, personal websites, blogs, micro-blogs, online social networks; these are all examples of ways to communicate using technology. We are constantly trying to find ways to stay connected, advertise, or communicate with the rest of the world. How we choose to stay connected varies from person to person but, online social networks, especially Facebook, seem to be at the forefront for teenagers, college students, professionals, businesses, advertisers, and even political figures to stay connected and get messages out. How is Facebook a possible channel for successful communication?
Facebook was started in 2004 by a Harvard undergraduate student, Mark Zuckerberg. It started out as an exclusive social network for registered college campuses. Facebook served as an information service for peers in your class and on campus. “Before Facebook added the feature sets it has today, it was simply a more complete student directory” says Nisan Gabbay. The popularity of Facebook grew through e-mail marketing, viral feature sets, and word of mouth. Facebook was initially used buy college students, but grew to include professionals, businesses, and advertisers. How many people do you know on Facebook? Think how many friends you have on your network that are in the work force already; that is a huge communication tool at your fingers. Oddly enough, I got an internship through sending a Facebook message to a friend that was looking to hire interns in their office.
Part of Facebook’s success with college students was due to trust. It was offered only to those that could prove they had an “.edu” email address with their school. Also, the fact that a college student had created the service made it easier to buy into than if an actual company was offering the service. The privacy Facebook offered also created a sense of exclusiveness which made students want to be a part of the social network. When Facebook first came about, I know that I had a lot more information on my profile than I do now that it is open to almost anyone to see. The privacy settings on Facebook still provides a certain sense of security but, you still have to change the default settings in order to ensure privacy from certain members.
Facebook can be a successful advertising tool for companies due to the number of users. “Having the attention of 90% of students attending a university lends itself to online classifieds, event listings, e-commerce, and lead generation” from Nisan Gabbay’s case study. Facebook opened its doors to outside the .edu network to include employees, employers, and others to join the community. Using Facebook for advertising allows you to target your audiences through networks. Facebook is better than other social networks, such as MySpace, because of its “deep penetration” within micro-communities. Facebook has a different user base than MySpace. Facebook’s core users are college students and young adults, while MySpace is largely teenagers. I personally don’t have a MySpace account because I don’t feel like it is a secure network or that it will provide the services that fit my life. Think of it like this, what is the first thought that comes to mind when you think MySpace? I think of a younger crowd because it was initially for people who were not able to prove they had an .edu email address. The advantage of Facebook’s user base is their access to money and interest in products and services to purchase.
Facebook has become a network that provides a way for people to stay in touch outside of school, at work, in the industries, and to advertise. Facebook is a successful channel of communication due to its number of users, its diversity in users, and its options for advertising to its users. If you know of other services or networks that might be a successful communication channels, feel free to leave a comment. Also, if you disagree with what I have found, let me know because I would love to hear an opposing view on Facebook since I have yet to hear one from people around me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Communication "Trends" of Today

The need for instant information has been a growing trend. This is made obvious by newspapers and magazines online for viewing at anytime with constant updates. As a person of the generation raised using the internet, I have never had to, nor wanted to use the phone book or map book. Instead, I just Google what I need or look on a website. Even research for school and projects is mainly done online; I don’t like going to a library and having to physically go find books or items to help me find information. Technology has increased our need for fast, accurate, and effective ways of getting information and communicating with our publics. With all the different ways of obtaining information and communicating, what could possibly come next? Is it possible to come up with new ideas to feed our need for instant information and communication?
Some might say that blogging is old news. I would have to disagree considering how many people have not jumped on the technology in the business world. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people and companies utilizing the blogger’s community but, there is still a lot of people who have not caught on to this trend. Dan Greenfield’s blog addresses the use and popularity of social medias in Atlanta, GA., stating “But many of the largest companies have yet to significantly embrace social media and only a handful of social media start-ups have achieved significant success.” He speaks about how many companies have either not begun the use of or have not embraced the presence of podcasts, social networks, or blogs in the work place. Blogging will probably continue to grow and be used as a source of information and communication.
A fairly new trend I have stumbled upon is http://www.twitter.com/. Twitter is a micro-blogging community. Micro-blogging according to Wikipedia is “a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user.” These messages can be submitted by text messaging, instant messaging, email, MP3 or the web. This social network allows you to constantly update your information for others to view and allows you to network with friends or other professionals in your industry. This medium is another way of staying connected like with Facebook and MySpace but, maybe even a little faster and more of a professional tool. Facebook and MySpace are popular social networks that originally started out as a way to keep in touch with friends. They have grown to include ways of advertising for clients using targeted audiences through people’s profiles. These social networks are another way of reaching publics and communicating.(They aren’t going away)
One new technology that is still developing is Search Engine Optimizations, SEO, for press releases. These search engines will be an even more efficient way of getting press releases out quicker and to more people. SEO’s aren’t used much now but according to Kami Huyse’s Blog, Social Media Trends Revisited: What's Hot and What's Not for 2008, “I predict that the format will continue to evolve this year, and companies will use it when they see a clear business use.” Give this trend some time and you might see it become a major source of information.
These are just a couple of new technological trends I found to be getting a little attention and recognition by PR professionals. On http://www.alexa.com/, the Web Information Company, the top United States Websites visited most were: 1. Google 2. Yahoo 3. MySpace 4. YouTube 5. Facebook and 13. Blogger.com. If you know of any new, cutting edge technology concerning communications and public relations, please let me know. I always feel a little behind the times, so any input or tips are welcomed and appreciated.
Check out these sites for trends of 2008:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

PR tips from the Pros

PR professionals are known by journalists as “fluff writers,” “spin writers,” and “flacks.” Some say there is no difference or don’t separate PR from propaganda. So, commonly asked questions among young entry level PR professionals are; how do you get “in” with journalists, reporters, and other news mediums? How do you get your client in the news?
Moving through my CCPA courses, I’ve had professors who have been in the PR industry for a long time. The one thing I have heard over and over is, “You have to know how to write!” You hear a whole spiel about how young people today don’t know how to write. After listening to Victor Godinez, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, as a guest speaker in a class; I heard the exact same comment. (I know, professors really do know what they are talking about!) He talked about how journalists see poorly written emails from PR professionals and how that is a major turn off to the PR industry. On numerous PR blogs I’ve seen “proof your emails.” This also goes for press releases and anything else you present to be in the news. So, the first piece of advice you are given is, know how to write, and know how to proof what you write.
Another common tip came from http://www.ssdesign.com/ , which said to make connections with key local media people within your publics. Journalists supposedly respond better to PR professionals they have established a relationship with. Victor Godinez commented on how it is best to put a name with a face, so, he recommended that you take the time to interact with journalists face to face and not just on the phone or through email. I know in my little work experience, I am more receptive to people I know fairly well and not just on a professional level, but outside the job.
These are two tips I found that were common and seemed valuable to new PR majors and professionals looking for help. I found a blog that has a post called “Don’t be a flack: Tips for PR workers from the journalists who hate them.” As a person in the PR and communications realm I was a little bothered at first, but then I read the tips and I must say, I had heard some of them before and I found that some were new to me but, I think they will be helpful in the future.
If you have any other tips you think I have missed that are key to a PR professional’s success feel free to leave your advice and let me know what you think of what I found so far.

Check out some of these sites for expert’s tips and advice:





Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Professional Blogging: Source of Free Info

Blogging in the realm of corporate communications and PR is a huge source of information. Looking through some of the blogs, I noticed free advice being handed out about how to be successful in the PR or marketing industry. ‘The Bad Pitch’ blog talks about receiving credit in the PR world. It talks about, that from now on it does not matter if you receive credit for information being picked up as long as it is getting picked up by other sources. Also, if you are going to put something out there, make sure it is your best work.
The ‘Marketing Monster’ blog gives you twelve steps to being successful in marketing. This is free, helpful information being handed to you! Blogging has obviously been a growing trend, but it is starting to gain credibility. You have professionals in the industries posting their thoughts about the industry and their ideas/opinions on how you can be successful. Blogs about industries can prove to be a helpful tool for young professionals trying to figure out what they are doing. You can search these blogs and see what people are saying about what is currently going on in your field. They might be opinions you don’t agree with, but it might make you aware of a possible growing problem within your industry. Also, you might learn a valuable lesson from someone else’s experiences they have posted and could possibly save yourself from a few mistakes and “learning the hard way lessons” through someone else sharing their knowledge beforehand.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Condolence Commercials?

Everyone has heard about the sudden death of Heath Ledger. Being a celebrity, his death has received more attention than any other Joe Blow's death would. Celebrities seem to receive more attention for mistakes and everyday events that happen in their lives due to the public's odd obsession to know. (I am one of those people in the public) Ledger was most famous for his role in 'Brokeback Mountain,' where he broke barriers by portraying a gay cowboy having a secret love affair with fellow actor, Jake Gyllenhaal.
In the wake of Ledger's death, the media has been all over it. From the Internet, magazines, and news to E! True Hollywood, you can't escape the thought of it. I was watching VH1 when I saw something brand new and was a little baffled by it to say the least. During the commercial breaks there were commercials of condolences to Ledger's family and friends. I know this is meant to be a polite gesture in honor of him, but seriously, I think this is going too far. I'm sure Ledger's family and friends appreciate the support and concern, but they already hear about it in the news, radio, and read about it in the papers and the Internet. Why should they have to see it during a commercial break? I already think that celebrities' lives are broadcast too much, but a death is not something that should be displayed everywhere at every moment of the day. How can family and friends be expected to move through the grief process when it is in their face 24/7?