PR Week continues the industry's preoccupation with managing activism with a variety of articles examining the strategies activists use to advance their causes, "the proactive approach to averting protests," and an article on corporate social responsibility titled "CSR: Beyond Lip Service."
Corporate Social Responsibility
The New York Times examines BP/Amoco, the world's second largest oil company, and its $200 million PR and advertising campaign to greenwash its image. It is an "enormous corporate rebranding exercise, shortening its name from British Petroleum to BP, coining the slogan "Beyond Petroleum" and redesigning its corporate insignia. ... in came a green, yellow and white sunburst that seemed to suggest a warm and fuzzy feeling about the earth. ... But ...
"The Public Relations Society of America, the Arthur Page Society, the Institute for PR, the Council of PR Firms and the PA Council are on the wrong side of the Nike 'commercial speech' lawsuit," writes Jack O'Dwyer, publisher of the O'Dwyer's PR trade publications. "Instead of siding with Nike, which refuses to defend the truthfulness of its statements about labor practices abroad (see No Logo for labor conditions in 18 foreign countries), the PR groups should be demanding that accuracy be served.
Jeff Seideman, president of the Boston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, is publicly disagreeing with the PRSA's stance on the Nike vs. Kasky lawsuit, in which Nike is being sued for allegedly making false statements about its overseas labor practices. "Actually, PRSA shouldn't be on either side of the issue," Seideman writes. It should have taken a position in support of ethical practices by PR professionals." Nike and the PRSA claim the First Amendment protects their right to make false statements about corporate social responsibility.
A new website ranks big corporations according to such issues as whether they treat women fairly, how they impact the environment, and if they make nuclear arms. Created by Dan Porter, of Portland, ME, www.idealswork.com six gathers the information from a the Investor Responsibility Research Center.
Under fire from environmentalists, California's wine industry plans to announce a code of "sustainable" environmental practices. Critics charge the industry with contributing to soil erosion, watershed loss and pollution and say its proposed "voluntary code" is an attempt to head off binding state regulation.
Nike has asked the US Supreme Court to review a California Supreme Court ruling that Nike's public statements on the work conditions of its overseas factories be considered commercial speech and be subject to truth-in-advertising laws. Nike argues that the ruling is "profoundly destructive of free speech." The ruling applies to statements made by Nike in op-eds, letters to the editor, and comments made to reporters. PR trade publication The Holmes Report wrote that as a result of the ruling, Nike would not be releasing its annual corporate responsibility report.
Breast Cancer Action of San Francisco is one of the few cancer prevention groups willing to tackle the corporate connection to the causes and prevention of breast cancer, which has risen alarmingly. BCA has placed a "think before you pink" ad in today's New York Times asking "Who's really cleaning up here?
A recent study by the Hill & Knowlton PR firm shows that a good corporate reputation can boost sales and profitability.
Marjorie Kelly, editor of Business Ethics magazine, reflects on the "perfect storm in ethics" that has unfolded despite a burgeoning corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement. CSR has failed, she says, because "fluff is not enough." It's time, Kelly says, to begin "talking about system design, understanding why corporations behave so single-mindedly. And that means focusing on power.