Bellsouth

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Bellsouth

  1. 1. BellSouth in Latin America
  2. 2. BellSouth in Latin America <ul><li>BellSouth operates cellular communications companies in 10 Latin America countries. </li></ul><ul><li>In each country, BellSouth faces tough competition and regulations. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Problem Statement <ul><li>BellSouth needed a PR strategy for Latin America that would position itself as a socially responsible company and a partner in the well-being of the countries in which it operates. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foreign investor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-national company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relatively new player in Latin America </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t just say BellSouth has a track record of community involvement in the U.S. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Challenges <ul><li>Difficult for multi-national firms to succeed in Latin America using U.S.-style PR </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Two-way communication is difficult because of the power distance in relationships (authoritarian); PR practitioners also have authoritarian tendencies. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of communication between managers and employees. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of concern because of region’s colonial cultural legacy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Government corruption is part of culture. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Overemphasis on family ownership means that family needs take priority over community needs. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Meeting needs of poor was for the church, not businesses or citizens. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Challenges <ul><li>Difficult for multi-national firms to succeed in Latin America using U.S.-style PR </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication used to manipulate publics for the benefit of the organization. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Journalists are paid to use news from companies. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TV and radio stations sell advertising disguised as news. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of trust of institutions hurts the ability of corporations to establish relationships with key publics. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Opportunities <ul><li>Sense of social responsibility developed in certain circles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Private Catholic universities emphasized social concerns, particularly for journalists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social responsibility is a major theme at regional conferences of PR educators and practitioners in Latin America </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Changes within media </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bribes have almost been eradicated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media does not fear the government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>News media becoming more professional </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. U.S. and Latin America <ul><li>Latin America is important to the U.S. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fastest growing region for U.S. exports </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Resentment against U.S. companies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brazil: stems from geographic mutilation, armed intervention and occupation, political intervention, economic domination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. Corporate Abuses in Latin America include United Fruit and Standard Fruit, oil companies, IBM, Ford Motor </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Objectives <ul><li>Demonstrate commitment to communities by addressing a real social need. </li></ul><ul><li>Help establish trust with publics, including governments and opinion leaders, media, public in general. </li></ul><ul><li>Position BellSouth as a leader in corporate responsibility. </li></ul><ul><li>Group the effort in the 10 countries toward one single cause. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a program that would provide opportunities for PR and relationship-building. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Social Need <ul><li>Popular sports such as soccer and baseball? </li></ul><ul><li>Mental health issues? </li></ul><ul><li>Drug abuse? </li></ul><ul><li>The arts? </li></ul><ul><li>Education of working children! </li></ul>
  10. 10. Research <ul><li>21 million working children </li></ul><ul><li>Poor increased from 136 million in 1986 to 180 million in 2001. </li></ul><ul><li>Large income gap: Richest 20% make 30 times the poorest 20% </li></ul><ul><li>Three countries rank lowest in the world on Human Development Index. </li></ul><ul><li>Privileged classes do not support policies to provide services to poor. </li></ul><ul><li>No company had adopted “working children” as the focus of their corporate philanthropy. </li></ul>
  11. 11. BellSouth Proni ň o: Strategy & Tactics <ul><li>Provide small scholarships ($100-$400) so that children could return to school </li></ul><ul><li>Funded with a $6 million commitment over 5 years </li></ul><ul><li>Partnered with experts to give program credibility. NGO’s were selected to administer the program and the BellSouth PR director in each country manages it. </li></ul><ul><li>In some countries, had to precede launch of program with educational campaign to raise awareness of the problem of working children. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In Argentina, talking about working children was taboo. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leaders invited to events planned at schools around festivities, donations and volunteering. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Evaluation <ul><li>BellSouth is considered a socially responsible investor in Latin America and a partner in the long-term development of the countries in which it operates. </li></ul><ul><li>Program has been effective in establishing relationships with key audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Program has offered opportunities to reach publics via events, press conferences, talks with opinion leaders, visits to schools, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Program has strengthened relationship with most important public: employees. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Discussion Questions <ul><li>Why was a program of social responsibility beneficial to BellSouth given the cultural, social, political and economic factors in Latin America? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the pros and cons of a social responsibility program? </li></ul><ul><li>What considerations might you have in establishing a program of social responsibility? </li></ul>

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