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  1. 1. Nowhere to hide A View white paper written by Ann Longley Planning Director/Head of CSR 2006 Sustaining trust in the digital age
  2. 2. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age Contents Introduction Key lessons for the networked market In the networked market, a digital strategy is more than just having a website The networked market means a more complex brand management challenge Cross-sector collaboration is a tool for effective brand management Launching ethical products and/or creating social product marketing divisions is a further possible response Smart companies use interactive applications to build stakeholder engagement and improve market intelligence Success requires a focus on content Your brand values need to be embedded in the search engine marketplace Conclusions and forward looking principles 2 4 4 5 7 8 9 10 12 13
  3. 3. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age In practice CSR encompasses a range of activities many businesses now engage in to demonstrate their commitment to positive social and environmental impacts. In response to a number of converging factors, including public intolerance of perceived corporate greed and corruption, an increasing interest in ethical consumption, and protection of the environment, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has emerged as a key business concept in the 21st century. In practice CSR encompasses a range of activities many businesses now engage in to demonstrate their commitment to positive social and environmental impacts. This is done with a view to protecting financial performance from reputational damage and it represents a major shift in the way businesses operate. This change in approach is not as some say, diluting the purpose of business. Rather, many businesses are now aware that to do well they must at least be seen to be doing good, and that by doing good they may do even better. For consumers and investors who care, the good news is a proliferation of ‘so called’ ethical products now on the market. One of the most high profile of these is Bono’s recently launched ‘Red’ product line distributed through a range of mainstream business partners including the Gap and American Express. This is a range of products sold on ethical terms and with a substantial share of the profits going to fight HIV/aids and underdevelopment in Africa. Given a consistent rise in ethical consumption and investment each year in recent years, the changes we are seeing are hardly surprising and can only be expected to accelerate. The Co- operative Bank’s 2004 Ethical Consumerism Report found that UK consumers spent close to £25 billion on ethical goods and services in 2004, an increase of 15% from 2003.1 Against this backdrop, companies are now eager to establish themselves as ethical brands as a means of gaining market share, and consequently many traditional companies are establishing social or ‘green’ enterprises to fuel their business growth. However in the digital age, such positioning is not necessarily enough to convince consumers of corporate integrity even when celebrities like Bono are involved. The critical business challenge today is sustaining stakeholder trust in a highly fragmented and instant communications environment where almost every company is trying to promote their ethical credentials and people frequently use digital tools to share negative information.2 Introduction One of the most high profile of these is Bono’s recently launched ‘Red’ product line distributed through a range of mainstream business partners including the Gap and American Express. This is a range of products sold on ethical terms and with a substantial share of the profits going to fight HIV/aids and underdevelopment in Africa. www.joinred.com/red.asp 1 Interestingly, the fastest rising category is ethical investments (5.5M GBP in 2004), Cooperative Bank, Future Foundation, NEF, 2004 Ethical Consumerism Report. 2 Research commissioned by Wirthlin Worldwide (now part of Harris Interactive) found that people were more likely to share negative information if it impacts their personal finances, health or public security or is from a credible source, “Online Corporate Reputation and Crisis Management”, The Wirthlin Report, V.13, No. 1, 02 2004, p1.
  4. 4. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age Introduction Use of new media allows product weaknesses and brand inconsistencies to be exposed quickly and in a far more public and transparent way than in the past. In this context, the digital age represents an opportunity but also a risk. It ushers in new channels to market and can help create demand for products and services, but it can also be used by consumers and others to highlight the shortcomings in a business operation. Use of new media allows product weaknesses and brand inconsistencies to be exposed quickly and in a far more public and transparent way than in the past. Moreover, with the aid of digital tools such as email, blogs, discussion boards, and mobile phones, activities such as boycotts, demonstrations and labour migrations can now be organised in a matter of minutes. When mainstream media pick up on the issues, what started out as an isolated protest online can easily reach a critical mass and company revenues can suffer. These threats are real. According to the Co-op Bank research the total value of boycotts in 2003 rose to £3.2bn, a growth of £600 million on the previous year. This represented a significant increase in the boycotts of brands associated with poor environmental performance or questionable labour practices. There is also evidence to suggest that companies that have suffered damage to their reputations, may also have difficulty attracting and retaining qualified staff, obviously a key concern in today’s knowledge driven economy.3 This paper examines some of the risks and challenges for business in today’s digitally enabled marketplace.4 It also provides signposts to some of the opportunities relating to CSR, specifically the integration of CSR into communications and indeed core business strategies in the digital age. A key argument is that while most large companies are now investing sufficiently in their online communications strategies and to some extent on ethical product development, few are integrating their thinking across these areas to make the most of the investments being made. Consequently, the remainder of this paper is divided into 2 sections. The first sets out key lessons that all business leaders now need to take on board in the new circumstances. The second sets out five principles developed by View to guide action in the digitally networked market. Kyptonite Locks sales were adversely affected after a video proving that the locks could be broken with a ballpoint pen was shared across the internet. http://shannonc.blogs.com/ shannonsays/2004/10/prooving_the_cl.html www.bikebiz.co.uk/daily-news/article. php?id=4637 www.wired.com/news/ culture/0,1284,64987,00.html 3 “Online Corporate Reputation and Crisis Management”, The Wirthlin Report, V.13, No. 1, 02 2004, p4. 4 Also referred to here as ‘the networked market’.
  5. 5. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age 1. In the networked market, a digital strategy is more than just having a web site Digital technology has transformed communications facilitating knowledge sharing across time and space. Those of us with connectivity have access to more information from more diverse sources and we can share this information across our social networks faster then ever before. Email, search, chatrooms, SMS/MMS, pod casting and blogs are powerful tools that have changed the communications landscape irrevocably. Most companies now understand the importance of digital media at least at a superficial level. In the UK broadband penetration has reached 60% of the population, e-commerce is no longer new and people are using digital channels, including mobile, for a variety of purposes. Uses include searching for information to inform purchasing and investment decisions, enhancing one’s social network, banking, making job applications and interacting with government. Not surprisingly, people are also using these tools to organise around issues of concern often with impressive results. In the 21st century, the potential for digital tools to empower social networks should not be underestimated.5 Yet in spite of this situation, many companies still have a very narrow focus to their digital communications strategies. Often they miss the opportunity to use the web to develop deeper relationships with a full range of stakeholders. By focusing on their own often-narrow communications objectives, they do not effectively contextualise their strategies within the broader context of the networked market and other relevant online initiatives. As a result, they are missing many chances to strengthen their brand and use the medium to proactively shape the debates relevant to their industry. Coca Cola The Killer Coke campaign, for example, effectively uses the Internet as an awareness raising tool and in combination with a range of factors, e.g. a more health conscious society, is undoubtedly contributing to damaging Coke’s reputation. http://killercoke.org/ www.cokewatch.org/ www.freeradicalmedia.com/cocacolaandexploitation.htm Coke is addressing some of the issues raised by the campaign directly on its website - www2.cocacola.com/presscenter/company_statements.html but is the company doing enough to manage these issues online? Key lessons for the networked market 5 For a full discussion of the how the Internet is being used by citizens, please refer to Howard Rheingold’s definitive text The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, (MIT Press: 1993)
  6. 6. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age Key lessons for the networked market 2. The networked market means a more complex brand management challenge In the networked market, consumers and investors are assessing brand integrity and consistency more easily and thoroughly than in the past. People can search the Internet for information about a company from many sources and can pass on information to each other informally or through organised viral marketing campaigns. The challenge of shaping what customers think about a particular company has never been more complex. A recent BP strategy provides an interesting illustration of this point. BP has embarked on a highly visible multi-channel campaign with the intention of re-inventing itself as a ‘green’ business. BP’s digital strategy includes targeting ‘influencers’ within their social networks by advertising on reuters.com, ft.com, the economist.com, and a range of other mainstream media sites. In the past, this might have been enough. Now, however, it has to consider that these influencers may be accessing a wide range of divergent views on the company based on alternative sources of information such as Corporate Watch and Ethical Corporation Magazine www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=290 www.ethicalcorp.com/content_list.asp?m=s www.thecorporation.com/index.php Consequently, rather than take BP’s green business campaign at face value, some in BP’s stakeholder community may accuse BP of “greenwashing”, i.e. trying to cover up perceived environmental misdeeds or human rights abuses with clever marketing. The same can be said for GE whose recent investment in green power looks good on paper and on the web http://ge.ecomagination.com/@v=03062006_1150@/index.html, but does not eclipse its poor environmental record as evidenced by the millions of dollars it has paid in fines for the damage it has caused over the years.6 In the digital age, past and current mistakes may haunt companies far into the future making people sceptical of what they perceive to be empty marketing messages or outright manipulation. This is not to say companies can’t change, but that trust is difficult to establish and maintain and is usually based on consistent good behaviour over sustained periods of time. Not surprisingly, the green business trend is particularly common now in the energy sector and relevant companies are using the web as well as other channels to communicate their environmental objectives: www.bpalternativenergy.com/liveassets/bp_internet/alternativenergy/ index.html http://ge.ecomagination.com/@v=02262006_0953@/index.html www.npower.com/At_home/Juice-clean_and_green/About_Juice.html 6 Joel Bakan, The Corporation, Constable Robinson Ltd, London: 2005. P 75-79.
  7. 7. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age 2. The Networked Market Means a More Complex Brand Management Challenge (...continued) An additional related challenge is the fact that search engines may direct people to unexpected information sources instantly undermining carefully crafted reputations and expensive offline campaigns. Type Proctor Gamble into google.co.uk, and the top entries condemn the company for its alleged animal rights abuses urging people to boycott its products. www.google.co.uk/search?hl=enq=procter+%26+gamblebtnG= Google+Searchmeta=cr%3DcountryUK%7CcountryGB. In the networked market, what a company says can be contrasted with what it does and with what ‘independent’ third parties have to say about it. If these third parties are highly trusted NGOs, a company’s position can be seriously undermined. In this regard the campaigns against conflict diamonds run by Global Witness, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been particularly effective eventually leading to the Kimberly Process (designed to exclude conflict diamonds from legitimate trade) and a commitment from leading manufacturers like De Beers not to trade in them.7 www.google.com/search?domains=hrw.orgsitesearch=www.hrw. orghl=enie=ISO-8859-1q=diamondsGO.x=17GO.y=12, www.hrw.org/editorials/2000/ken-sl-july.htm Key lessons for the networked market Some companies never fully recover their reputations. A high degree of scepticism greeted Nestle’s recent foray into the fair trade market with its launch of its fairly traded instant coffee due to its poor track record which began many years ago when it marketed nutritionally deficient baby formula in Africa. Bad feelings towards the company are still very much alive as evidenced by the enduring baby milk campaign and the recently launched Bodyshop Boycott triggered by L’Oreal’s recent take- over of this highly regarded ethical business. (L’Oreal is in part-owned by Nestle). www.stopanimalcruelty.co.uk/bodyshop/ www.babymilkaction.org/ 7 That said, it should be noted that the story does not end with establishing the Kimberly process – there are still many issues in the diamond trade to be overcome, for more information see www.diamonds.net/selectednews.asp?list=4
  8. 8. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age 2. The Networked Market Means a More Complex Brand Management Challenge (...continued) Clearly, the best way to protect a brand is to ensure the company develops values and practices, which it consistently communicates and upholds both internally and externally. These policies and practices are the infrastructure of an ethical company. In spite of the complexities of operating in global markets, people now expect companies to behave consistently at home and abroad. In the networked market, people will be able to find out what is going on in different parts of the world using a range of alternative sources of information. Shell is an interesting example in this regard. Although Shell has had ongoing challenges with its brand integrity8 , it has established comparatively open communications via its corporate website about these issues. www.shell.com/home/Framework?siteId=royal-enFC2=/royalen/ html/iwgen/environment_and_society/key_issues_and_topics/ zzz_lhn.htmlFC3=/royalen/html/iwgen/environment_and_society/ key_issues_and_topics/dir_issues_and_topics.html In addition, the company’s close working relationship with reputable NGOs has to a great extent helped protect its reputation through difficult times. For example, Shell worked with Transparency International, a leading NGO in the field of anti-corruption, creating Business Principles for Countering Bribery helping to enhance Shell’s credibility with in relation to this important practice area.9 Key lessons for the networked market 3. Cross-sector collaboration is a tool for effective brand management Increasingly, NGOs are helping companies develop their ethical agendas. For companies this can, as in the case of Shell, offer a kind of brand insurance and protection since NGOs can provide them with the insights they need into the social, economic and environmental concerns that their own operations might be impacting upon. Moreover, as public trust in NGOs is generally high10 , businesses can benefit from association with them. For many NGOs, the collaboration can offer a real opportunity to influence business practices in a new ethical direction and have a wider impact. The importance of this cross sector collaboration has also increased in recent times as the private sector has been drawn into new practice areas. Public-private partnerships, in which the private sector organisations play a bigger role in the delivery of public services, expose business to accountability measures that go beyond the shareholder community and onto the terrain of public satisfaction and democratic accountability. Again, NGOs and their wider social networks can help business to understand and adapt to the challenges in these areas.11 8 For example over Brentspar, the size of its oil reserves, and its ongoing problems in Nigeria where militants claim its operations continue to contaminate water sources and keep local people impoverished. 9 www.transparency.org/global_priorities/private_sector/business_principles 10 See www.edelman.com/insights/ 11 For example, see www.oxfam.org.uk/what_we_do/issues/livelihoods/unilever.htm for an evaluation of Unilever’s impact on poverty reduction in Indonesia conducted by Oxfam
  9. 9. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age Vodafone has created a new product marketing division focusing on products with a high social value. 3. Cross-sector collaboration is a tool for effective brand management The situation moreover, can be a win-win since cross-sector collaboration is becoming an increasingly common and effective way to address some of the world’s most complex social, environmental and health problems and there are a growing number of examples of such partnerships. An interesting one is Pfizer’s partnership with the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to address the devastating effects of the eye disease trachoma. The Clark Foundation had spent 25 years funding research and through its partnership with Pfizer had an opportunity to leverage this experience and see its research applied in affected communities. For Pfizer the partnership provided the opportunity to put its value of providing care to those in need in action. Together they’ve been able to make a greater impact than either of them could have achieved on their own.12 4. Launching ethical products and/or creating social product marketing divisions is a further possible response Increasingly, not only are the boundaries between the sectors becoming less clear, but new approaches within organisations are emerging too. Vodafone, for example, has created a new product marketing division focusing on products with a high social value. While there may be clear business benefits for Vodafone to design products for people, in this case, with disabilities, it can also be argued that these customer segments can benefit from greater access to the modern communication tools that Vodafone provides. However, Vodafone cannot build good reputation and social value in one area of its operations alone. An equally pertinent question for Vodafone, given its new direction, is how it then deals with the brand consistency issues relating to some of its other product categories such as adult content. In this regard, its child protection policies are vitally important and provide necessary back up to its ethical positioning and new social product division. http://online.vodafone.co.uk/dispatch/ Portal/appmanager/vodafone/wrp?_ nfpb=true_pageLabel=Page_BOS_ MainContentpageID=AV_0043 Key lessons for the networked market 12 http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item.jhtml?id=1731t=nonprofit
  10. 10. Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age 5. Smart companies use interactive applications to build stakeholder engagement and improve market intelligence Being responsive to people’s needs is obviously a great way to extend good will as well as develop new business opportunities. In practice, this means being in touch with your target audiences through stakeholder research and other proactive engagement strategies. Of course, for many industries (e.g. mining, energy, telecommunications), ongoing stakeholder engagement is the key to retaining a license to operate and potentially to securing competitor advantage. In short, it is simply good business. But what was previously only seen as good business for some is now good business for all and companies should continuously develop their relationships with key stakeholders. In this regard, digital channels are ideal instruments. Due to their ‘2-way’ capabilities, they can easily be used to build relationships and gather important market intelligence. For example, targeted opt-in subscription services (e.g. email newsletters, mobile alerts) can keep stakeholders up to date on the availability of information they are seeking, while online surveys can be used to inform content strategies and validate designs to ensure positive and credible brand experiences are provided online. Extensive use of feedback forms, product reviews, and other interactive features including discussion forums, polls, ratings, and referrals are mechanisms companies can use to build both a sense of community online but also a sense of shared ownership, commitment and brand loyalty. If people are happy with what a company has to offer they will use their digital social networks to spread the word. Key lessons for the networked market Several years ago, in response to concerns about its lack of transparency and possible involvement in human rights abuses, particularly in Nigeria, Shell launched an online forum, ‘Tell Shell’ to enable its stakeholders to communicate with each other and with Shell about issues of concern. Digital technology has helped transform people from passive receivers of information to content creators and internet users generally expect to be able to have their say. Having this functionality communicated a great message about Shell’s new openness and offered the company new sources of information about its own business and its impact on others. Engagement and Improve Market Intelligence Although the ‘Tell Shell’ strategy is currently being reworked, other companies can benefit from the lessons learned. Indeed the time may now have come for major companies to consider more structured approaches to online stakeholder engagement including moderated online events and consultations, giving people online access to key decision makers which in turn can help inform company strategy and, potentially, new product development. To view the Tell Shell archive visit: www.shell.com/home/tellshellen/html/iwgen/tell_shell/app_frame_ tellshell.html
  11. 11. 10 Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age Key lessons for the networked market If you work in a controversial sector, why not try to help shape and stimulate debate by hosting topical forums on your site? The French nuclear energy company Areva provides expert views on topical energy issues from their own company as well as other organisations. They also invite interested stakeholders to register to join their discussion forums. This enables them to use the digital channel to develop relationships and gain insights without having everything played out in public. By publishing summaries of these discussions they could take this process a step further providing a greater degree of transparency while creating interesting content for their site. www.areva.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=arevagroup_en%2F Opinion%2FOpinionFullTemplatecid=1052727346067theme=1052 727345296 6. Success requires a focus on content Taking full advantage of the new opportunities while managing the new risks to corporate brands requires effort and ongoing investment. Many companies launch their corporate websites and then leave their content to stagnate. However, people expect dynamic and interactive content on the web and a digital media savvy approach is required if companies really want to extract value from their corporate web sites. Moreover, research suggests that if companies proactively use their web sites to deal with challenging issues, they can potentially minimise reputational damage as most people will seek to validate negative information by visiting a company’s website.13 Given the exponential impact email forwarding can have, use opt-in email newsletters or SMS alerts to communicate on an ongoing basis and not just during times of crisis is highly recommended. In addition, dynamic, accessible and topical content capturing the hearts and minds of stakeholders is essential on digital channels, especially for non-transactional sites, as people not only need to be able to find what they are looking for, but also to have a reason to come back. 13 “Online Corporate Reputation and Crisis Management”, The Wirthlin Report, V.13, No. 1, 02 2004, p3.9.
  12. 12. 11 Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age 6. Success requires a focus on content An editorial strategy should be developed and suitable resources allocated. It is not enough though to reproduce printed materials online. The real power of the web is through digital storytelling. That means providing contextual links, cross-referencing to relevant external sources, and the appropriate use of interactivity and multi-media. Most companies have vast amounts of interesting and relevant content buried too deeply inside their corporate web sites for anyone to take notice of it. However, with the right approach, it can quite easily be adapted and enriched for the online environment. That said, ideally content should be created on a bespoke basis with the unique features of digital channels in mind. Most companies miss the opportunity to give their perspective on controversial issues in spite of the fact that many people go to corporate websites to find out about corporate positions on the key issues. British American Tobacco is an exception in this regard: www.bat.com/oneweb/sites/uk__3mnfen.nsf/vwPagesWebLive/DO6 HADSB?opendocumentSID=DTC=TMP=1 Large companies need to devise responsible content and editorial strategies that will reinforce brand integrity and transparency and help build trust. Efforts should be made to demystify the company and its activities within its industry sector (including lobbying) to facilitate a broader understanding of its public policy positions. Explaining the way the business works in an open and transparent manner will bring rewards in terms of brand integrity. Inclusion of the perspectives of consumers, local communities and independent third parties will further enhance transparency and credibility. Key lessons for the networked market 14 The Global Reporting Initiative, for example, is aiming to standadise reporting: www.globalreporting.org/ This process is beginning to happen. CSR reporting online is on the increase. Indeed some companies including Rio Tinto and GSK only report online. It is therefore vitally important to make the most of the online medium by providing frequent updates relating to progress on key issues. Reporting is an area where forward-thinking businesses can break new ground. In the digital age, reporting need not and should not be an annual event. Moreover companies should consider providing their report information in more engaging and interactive formats. All the effort that goes into reporting to expert audiences can be leveraged to enhance corporate reputations with the right editorial approach for more general users. In addition, to give the report greater substance and make comparisons easier, clear targets should be established and reported against on a sector wide basis.14 CSR reporting online is on the increase. Indeed some companies including Rio Tinto and GSK only report online.
  13. 13. 12 Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age 7. Your brand values need to be embedded in the search engine marketplace Search engines, however imperfect, are still the most widely used tools people use to find information online. It is therefore important to understand how to create content and code to optimise your search engine results. In addition, basing promotion and content strategies on how people actually search for information will help make them more effective. So in addition to monitoring search engines for ‘sabotage’ as with the PG example sited earlier, it is important for a business to identify the subjects and key words it wants to be associated with and to align itself accordingly. This alignment can then be strengthened through the provision of balanced editorial content online and other relevant online resources. If, for example, a company can legitimately claim to help a certain condition or provide substantial relevant online information resources in relation to it, then it can optimise for high rankings or even purchase sponsored links for the most commonly used related search terms. Such efforts can be extended to social marketing campaigns and other sponsorship activities that can be advertised on search engines and other high traffic media sites as a means of raising public awareness about issues as well as company profile. www.google.co.uk/search?hl=enq=c lean+%2B+coalbtnG=Google+Search meta= www.google.co.uk/search?hl=enq=fai r+%2B+tradebtnG=Searchmeta= Key lessons for the networked market
  14. 14. 13 Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age Conclusions and forward looking principles In the networked market, companies need to move away from simply ‘managing’ perceptions and reputations and actually ensure their values, actions, and indeed core product offers are in alignment with their ethical positioning. It is pointless developing great policies unless they are going to be consistently implemented. Because today, people will use their digitally enhanced social networks to speak out and potentially take action against your company. The best defence is to make good products, provide good services, and behave consistently in an ethical and responsible manner while using new media to bring the full range of stakeholders into what is in effect an extended version of the enterprise. You can then employ someone to evangelise on your behalf without being accused of hypocrisy. Moreover, your customers will become your advocates and do the job of selling for you. Getting there is a challenge but one most companies can meet if they stick to the following principles developed by View: Principle 1: Practice responsible communications In the networked market, your stakeholders can cross check information from many sources. Whenever possible, your company should address controversial issues proactively and holistically. Don’t be afraid to include the perspectives of your critics. Moreover, independent evaluations should be conducted for all community engagement and environmental programmes to ensure that positive claims are credibly validated. Ideally, these trusted third parties should also help you set meaningful targets. Finally, always include testimonials from your intended beneficiaries; don’t just use their pictures. You do not want to be accused of mis-appropriating their images. Principle 2. Communicate to the highest common denominator Keep ethical consumers, activists and discerning prospective employees in mind when devising communications strategies. These influencers are the people who will cause your business the most damage in the new environment, so make sure you understand and cater to their needs and expectations. Market awareness of ethical issues is on the increase and you need to position yourself accordingly. You will also be seen to be helping to develop the ethical market if you take the lead. Principle 3: Meaningfully engage with stakeholders In order to understand the needs of key stakeholders and influencers, leverage the potential of digital channels to develop relationships and gather market insights. Conduct regular online surveys and face to face interviews to ensure that your strategies are effective otherwise your online investment may be wasted. It is equally important to invest in tools (e.g. subscription services, editorial content, discussion forums) that will help you build relationships with stakeholders based on their information requirements as well as your need to get your perspective across to them. Robert Scoble, for example, has done a great job blogging for Microsoft but his impact would be even greater if his employer had fewer anti-competitive lawsuits in the courts, that is greater brand integrity. http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/
  15. 15. 14 Nowhere to hide - Sustaining trust in the digital age Principle 4: Make sure your digital communications objectives are joined up with your broader corporate strategy. Due to the inherent challenges of managing brand consistency in the networked market, it is essential that company departments work together effectively. That means integrating CSR into digital communications and core business strategies. It is essential to have a good infrastructure in place to ensure you have positive and credible stories to communicate. Principle 5: Invest appropriately in your digital strategy and use channels to their full potential Digital tools are incredibly powerful, are evolving rapidly, and enjoying increasing uptake and penetration. Digital strategies therefore need to befluid and responsive to evolving stakeholder expectations and new technological developments that can enhance communications and support your business objectives. It is therefore essential for you to monitor developments and trends to ensure you are making the most of the potential of digital channels and investing accordingly. The internet has a key role to play in shaping as well as managing your corporate reputation, in the digital age you cannot afford to ignore it or let your strategy stagnate. Conclusions and forward looking principles

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