A presentation on how leading companies have reacted to ethical supply chain crises and how the media responded. Second half focuses on dealing with the media and communicating good practice on CSR, supply chains and ethics
http://www.clc.net.in/Portals/0/BSCI_logo_black.jpg<br />How to get communications right: Companies, strategies and dealing with the media<br />BSCI workshop 1/6/20Toby Webb, Managing Director, Ethical Corporation <br />
Engaged with NGOs in meetings via Ethical Trading Initiative
Invested publicly in more auditors, staff and resources for ethical trade. 8 person team moving up to 15 in 2010.
Used ETI on for a comprehensive review of its systems for implementing the ETI Base Code.
Established a dedicated living wages projects in China and Bangladesh. Training both buyers and suppliers. Working with NGOs in India and Bangladesh</li></li></ul><li>When the media attacks: Uzbek Cotton<br /><ul><li>Uzbek Cotton and EU/US Retailers: A major media scandal
NGOs attacked big brands for sourcing forced labour cotton via Bangaldeshi and Indian suppliers
BBC Newsnight investigation. MANY newspapers ran the story
Across EU demands for boycotts arose in hours: Brands had to respond
Some NGOs had been flagging the issue for years
But Tesco, Wal-Mart, Migros, M&S etc, had not engaged
Some European brands are still not engaged: They should be!</li></li></ul><li>When the media attacks: Uzbek Cotton<br /><ul><li>Brands were defensive too early, did not plan their response
Some (Tesco) denied commodity tracing was possible
Evidence surfaced that this was not true (Continental)
Eventually brands reacted collectively and banned sourcing
When the story arose again 2009, brands credited with boycotting and tracing supply chains by campaigners such as EJF
Story becomes about the Uzbek Government not retailers
Issue now is tracing cotton through complex supply chains
Laggard retailers can expect more pressure in the future </li></li></ul><li>When the media attacks: GAP<br /><ul><li>1999 Allegations of poor H&S, overtime, working conditions. Scandal alongside Nike.
Use a balanced scorecard for buyers to measure factory performance on cost, delivery, quality, and compliance
Ethics and environmental issues co-managed by head of CR and relevant heads of department. Head of compliance reports to both head of CR and head of all sourcing
Clean Clothes Campaign believes Nike has been “progressive” on policy with regard to freedom of association issues for contract workers</li></ul>Internal structures at Nike<br />
Bridging the gap between Comms and CSR<br /><ul><li>Expect a crisis: It can come at any time. NGOs will help you spot it!
Be prepared: Have up to date data, labour partnerships. Policies outlining company approach. Admit situation not perfect
Keep colleagues informed: Have fact sheets updated regularly. Meet with communications team and get them engaged
Have corporate policies and information written in a plain and simple way for outside scrutiny
Build the bank account of goodwill: Cultivate NGO partnerships, at home and aboard
Be honest about the challenges you face and don’t be proud: Engage your critics, ask for ideas as to what you should do beyond standard best practice: Patagonia, Timberland good examples of online debate</li></li></ul><li>“CSR seems primarily an expression of a corporate guilty conscience” – Management Editor, The Observer Newspaper<br /> <br />“All the CSR reports I get go straight in the rubbish bin, the company is the least credible source on itself” – Financial Times Environment Correspondent <br /> <br />“The painful truth is that no one has yet proven to media decision-makers that compelling stories about CSR bring large numbers into the tent.” – CNBC<br />KEY POINT: Relying on CSR reports for good press almost never works. Tailored, business focused communications are what works. GRI and AA1000 will not help you communicate or convince the media! They want focused authenticity <br />Media coverage: Challenges and solutions<br />
<ul><li> When you’re dealing with a hostile reporter, good coverage isn’t your goal. Less bad coverage is your goal
Most corporations don’t get that; they’re looking for shamans and gurus that can spin them out of catastrophe, something that only works in the movies
Always remember that a good reporter is like a Hollywood producer – he knows how the story ends
The only way to turn a hostile story is if you can provide a better ending. Not all co-operation helps the cause
The media, like the rest of the world, is filled with zealots and ideologues
In the end, the facts behind a particular crisis don’t always matter
When you as an executive do not control the final product – remember it’s the reporter who writes the script – less can be more</li></ul>Handling hostile media<br />
1) Managing your reputation and that of your company is Job One. If it’s an investigation of a rumoured problem, don’t return the call unless the reporter agrees to spell out what she knows. It could just be a fishing expedition2) Don’t publicly denigrate critics, whether dissident employees, watchdog groups, or journalists. Contentious responses escalate into “he said/she said” circuses, supplanting the original agony to become a far bigger headache<br />3) Don’t confess to sins that you don’t believe you committed to portray yourself as sympathetic. That just whets your adversaries’ appetite and compounds problems, especially if you are (relatively) innocent4) Don’t expect those you consider friends in the press to stand by you, particularly if you show any defensiveness. Professional friendships have limits and are sometimes a ploy by journalists to keep your guard down and information flowing<br />Handling media crises: Eight tips<br />
5) When you meet the press, try to do so in a controlled environment. Style counts. Don’t flog yourself or be shrill, but do tell your side. If you’re in the right, the truth will more than likely come out over time6) Apply a tourniquet to the negative publicity. Announce that you take the problem seriously. Then take it seriously, even if you think the issue is non-existent or overblown. Whether it was a real problem before, it certainly is a reputation management issue now that the press has it. Consider any inquiry a “wake up call”. Have you lost touch with customers, employees or managers? Find out7) Keep lines of communication open. If a solution is complicated and cannot be addressed satisfactorily in one briefing, keep everyone informed about your progress. Don’t be afraid to admit that you made a mistake or that the proposed solution is itself caught in snags8) Don’t lie. Silence is far less consequential than lack of candour. Duplicity will come back to haunt you. Although journalists are loathe to confess this, we often will abandon the pursuit of uncooperative subjects or complicated stories, but we will go to the ends of the earth to confront those who we have come to believe are hypocrites<br />Media tips (continued)<br />
In conclusion: The media is relatively gentler on those who openly admit they screwed up or don’t know all the answers<br /> Although the press may not become your friend, they will at least contemplate that you have a conscience. That realisation alone can be the difference between a hostile story and one that respects the sometimes-complicated choices an executive faces when handling a crisis<br />The key lesson:<br />
1) Make sure your story contains challenges and real life issues as well as promoting your good work<br />2) Make sure it links with your core business. Philanthropy, unless its Bill Gates, does not sell to the media<br />3) Business journalists are often even more sceptical than non business journalists. If it doesn’t link to the business, they’ll think you are not serious about either CSR or your own corporate strategy <br />3) Get someone who can write, to write your releases, PR notices, and emails to journalists. It’s amazing the amount of awful communications that are put out, badly written and full of hubris. These will get deleted immediately or just thrown into the rubbish bin. <br />4) Brittle PR is painful, make it sound genuine. Do your research on the publication, or make sure your PR company does, or change them. Know what they look for, and target them <br />Tips on getting good press <br />
5) Be humble. Lots of companies are not. Remember your organisation needs a license to operate, just like everyone else. Make sure your press office knows this. Many do not. 6) Find out what the story is about. Be prepared for later interviews by figuring out the angle the journalists might use7) Get rid of jargon. GRI, ISO, CSR, writers hate it. It turns off writers, plain language is very important. 8) Use senior people to engage journalists. If we get an email from a senior business executive, we take notice. (They don’t have to write it!) Low level PR is just that, and it annoys editors.9) Don’t be too keen. Journalists are suspicious if they think being over sold! Don’t try and make something out of nothing, its obvious.10) Tell a convincing story: give us some stats, make sure its progress with outcomes, not just intentions. Pledges are coming under increased scrutiny “we’re committing to spend future profits we haven’t made yet” <br />Tips on getting good press <br />
11) Offer access to senior executives for interviews. But make sure they are briefed and know the numbers. If they don’t have a personal interest in it and do the leg work on research, offer someone more junior who does know. 12) Don’t ask for copy approval. Quote approval can be done but is still annoying for the journalist. If they are going to make you look silly, they will do it anyway.<br /> 13) Be prepared to be challenged. And live with the pain, it will make you improve. And don’t whine about media accountability or the lack of it – Journalists are crusading bunch, and brush off accountability moans even better than NGOs.<br /> 14) Make sure your PR company is not paying off journalists, ever. PR companies are suppliers to your reputation and you should do ethical audits of their processes and practices as part of your risk management strategy!<br />Tips on getting good press <br />
<ul><li>Wal-Mart: prompt and effective reaction to hurricane Katrina.
The Washington Post hailed the world’s largest trading company as “a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning”.
Wall Street Journal devoted a cover story to Gap’s internal review of its supply chain and its candidness in admitting to having sinned in the past.
The Economist gave equally prominent coverage to Vodafone’s efforts to use mobile phones to improve conditions in Africa.
Unilever and iodised salt: Dutch-British conglomerate prominently featured in the Business Week cover story “Beyond the Green Corporation”, published in early 2007. </li></ul>Good coverage is possible!<br />
Further resources on communications, supply chain and crisis management:<br />www.ethicalcorp.com<br />Toby.email@example.com<br />Blog: ethicalcorp.blogspot.com<br />Reading..<br />