PR News CSR Awards: Highlights on Authenticity, Corporate Community Investment and Social Networking

Here is the first part of my keynote at the PR News CSR Awards last week addressing how corporate responsibility can contribute towards rebuilding trust in business. My key point is that authenticity is key to trust. We judge whether a person is authentic by the consistency with which they apply their values. I imagine people judge corporations in the same way.

So if we express our values through our community investment, then to substantiate our authenticity, we need to be consistent in applying those values to our core business; our products, our employees, our customers and our public voice as expressed in our brands, advertising and lobbying. My challenge to the CR practitioner, myself included, is to increase the proportion of time spent in the core business. I would welcome your comments.

In the second part of my comments, I explained that I see a key role for corporate community investment, not so much as an end in itself but as a means to increasing sensitivity and awareness amongst our employees that they can take back and incorporate into their jobs. Volunteering is especially important from this perspective. But beware, community investment can undermine authenticity if we do not follow through and apply the same values in our core business.

I also address the key role I see for social networking to bridge that perceived distance between the company and the stakeholders. Frank and engaging exchanges with corporate executives, as demonstrated by Bill Marriott of Marriott and by Tom Glocer of Thomson Reuters, and with our employees, can be one of the best ways to demonstrate authenticity and to bridge the perceived distance between the stakeholder and the corporation.

  1. Comments 6

  2. Katie 7:40 am on March 4, 2010

    Marvelous remarks. i think you are right-on, and the example of campbell's soup really illuminated your point about consistency and authenticity.

  3. tom 7:42 am on March 6, 2010


    Im flattered that you included my blog in your discussion of best practices. I started its predecessor five years ago to learn first hand what was going on.

    I still post (average of twice a month) because Ive found it to be a good two-way medium to reach and be reached by employees and others. Since it is open to the public and I wrtie it myself, I think it gains a certain authenticity, which as you say, must be at the heart of all good communications

  4. Marc 7:06 am on March 9, 2010

    Well said, Kevin. You're quite right CR activities need to move from the fringe to the mainstream, from "add-ons" like philanthropy and voluntarism to core practice.

    Maybe the most important question: Is your product good for people and the planet?

  5. Louise Muth, Group VP Image and Sustainable Development at Lafarge 1:27 pm on March 9, 2010

    Excellent keynote. I agree that it is an important distinction to make between being truly authentic and aligned with the company's values versus "giving back." I also agree we need to review our business decisions through this lens... well stated! I especially like the part about how to use social media to let it be individuals that are in front and not "people-less" corporations. This is really inspiring and a great way to convince big business to move in the right direction.

  6. Mosske 7:38 am on March 18, 2010

    Thanks all for your comments. Katie, it was great to have you join us representing the BCLC. Tom (CEO Thomson Reuters), I am inspired that you chose to put your blog on the internet, although, as you say, employees are one of the groups you hope to engage with and you could have put it on the intranet. Marc, would be great to know who you are. I think,looked at holisitcally, that ICT products are good for people and the planet. How do you feel about your products ? Louise, thanks for taking the time to watch and comment. I look forward to continuing our discussion in person.

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    […] this in the early part of the year, helped by the opportunity I had to deliver the keynote at the PR News CSR awards, where trust and authenticity were my main theme. It is interesting to observe the ebb and flow of […]