Nestlé proves CSR can give your company a “Good Life”

Have you ever wondered where your coffee comes from? (Picture courtesy of Nestlé)

Have you ever wondered where your coffee comes from? (Picture courtesy of Nestlé)

Have you noticed that more and more people seem to be walking around carrying cups of coffee in their hands? Whether they’ve stopped by Starbucks, their local cafe or have made it at home, coffee cups seem to have become the ultimate accessory for both men and women.

I don’t know whether this is due to the fact that people lead such hectic lives that they just don’t have time to sit down for their coffee, or whether they are drinking more of it than they used to. What statistics do show, however, is that there is a good chance that the coffee they’re drinking is made by Nestlé, as 5,500 cups of Nescafé alone are drunk every second.

As the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, Nestlé’s motto of “Good Food, Good Life” has lead them to be one of the world’s most profitable corporations. However, things weren’t always so good. Continue reading

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Behold: the great and powerful lobbyist!

"The Great and Powerful Oz" (2013) shows what a great PR Oz might have been.

“Oz, The Great and Powerful” (2013) shows what a great PR Oz might have been.

The other day I went to the cinema and saw “Oz, The Great and Powerful” which, by the way, I highly recommend.  It tells the story of how an average small town magician becomes the mysterious, slightly frightening Wizard of Oz who is feared and admired at the same time.

It occurred to me while watching the movie that Oz would have been a great lobbyist. He works behind closed doors; he uses obscure tricks to get his way; and influences people to do his bidding. The aura of mystery that surrounds him is very much like that which envelopes lobbyists, who are perceived to be a kind of sinister magicians themselves, strategically and invisibly influencing the powers that be and ultimately society as a whole. What is really frightening is that they walk and live among us… and many times we don’t even know who they are. Continue reading

This is war!

WWII Propaganda poster.

WWII Propaganda poster.

OK, that’s it. Portraying PR people as evil spin doctors full of cruel intentions is getting really old. Last week, I attended the latest in a series of debates about PR, this one titled “Modern wars are spun and not won. What warring parties say is more important than what they do”.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great debate (there was even some pen-throwing involved!), but the fact that the profession is still seen by many as being twisted and murky is infuriating. It would be great if PR practitioners were all-powerful influencers, but in most cases that’s just not so. Continue reading

PR as the new Jedi warrior

Yoda is portrayed as a powerful Jedi Master in the Star Wars movies.

Yoda is portrayed as a powerful Jedi Master in the Star Wars movies.

No, Gruning hasn’t come up with a theory that argues the use of lightsabers for the improvement of the two-way symmetrical model. Nor are practitioners expected to speak a la Yoda to get the attention of the media. However, there is a current of thought that is taking root in PR which is based on behavioural economics theory. In Jedi terms, the idea is to use our wisdom to bend the wills of our publics and get them to behave in certain ways. Spooky, huh? Continue reading

Debate about ethical PR. Leave your boxing gloves at home, please!

Is there such a thing as ethical PR?

Is there such a thing as ethical PR?

I recently took part in a debate titled “The Only way to practice ethical PR is to work for the not for profit sector. Everything else is just corporate, political or consumer propaganda”. No doubt about it: this is quite a radical statement. As luck would have it, two colleagues and I wound up defending it…reluctantly, I might add. No self-respecting PR practitioner would agree with such a thing. Or would they?

Please note that we started off by having a show of hands which quickly showed none of the attendees were on our side and that we actually managed to come up with some pretty convincing arguments. Would we manage to convince anyone to support us?  Continue reading

Are we there yet? Why we haven’t reached the boardroom… for now!

are we there yetFor many years we have defended our need to be heard in the boardroom, either by having a seat on the executive board or by having the possibility of reporting directly to the CEO, so that we can ensure that they take into account how their decisions will affect our corporate reputation and our stakeholder relations. We’ve travelled a long road to reach the C-Suite… Once again, we impatiently ask: Are we there yet?The answer is quite simply… no. Continue reading

Where is Jiminy Cricket?

"Let your conscience be your guide" (Jiminy Cricket, 1940)

“Let your conscience be your guide” (Jiminy Cricket, 1940)

One of the first things that we’re taught as PR practitioners is that we must conduct ourselves as ethically as possible, especially considering that we’re expected to be the moral conscience of the organizations we work for. This would be a lot easier if we, like Pinocchio, had Jiminy Cricket on our shoulder telling us what to do all the time. But instead of him we have codes of conduct which establish a series of norms designed to guide the manner in which we carry out our work. The question is: How effective are they and how can ethical behaviour among practitioners be encouraged? Continue reading