Corporate Social Responsibility Communications: interview with John Paluszek
GA: John, you visited Finnish association's main communication event, ProCom Day. What is your "take-away" from this event?
Several important "take-aways": ProCom Day illustrated, once again, the importance of Global Alliance member associations sharing their progress to improve our professional standards and advances as well as to advocate for the profession. Too, ProCom Day proved that public relations and strategic communications are playing a vital role in organizational success in Finland. And -- quite important -- that ProCom leadership is doing an exceptionally fine job in delivering the services that our colleagues in Finland need and deserve.
GA: The theme of the event was CSR and you had a keynote speaker role. What were some of the key points you presented for Finnish communications and CSR professionals?
Because I have been deeply involved in corporate social responsibility/sustainable development for many years, I wanted to show how that the corporate commitment has evolved into what I call, "CSR 3.0" -- a truly global business model.
Importantly, connected with that development, our public relations colleagues around the world have an outstanding opportunity to become advocates and stewards for the "CSR 3.0" implementation that integrates business objectives and performance with social progress.
I also suggested that with this epic opportunity and others -- such as social media and public diplomacy -- global public relations, and public relations professionals everywhere, can be thought of as being in a "sweet spot" of demand for our services.
GA: In addition to Finnish communication professionals, you met with media and CSR peers including the CEO of the Crisis Management Initiative. What do you think about such Finnish CSR approaches compared to that of the United States?
So much is happening in CSR around the world, that I hesitate to try to encapsulate a comparison involving two countries. However, here are a few "top-line" observations: globally, thousands of companies have committed to CSR by committing to "ESG" principles of operation and sharing best practices though organizations such as the United Nations Global Compact, The World Business Council For Sustainable Development and the International Integrated Reporting Committee.
Among Finnish practitioners (see accompanying survey results from ProCom Day), it's apparent that their companies are increasing CSR communications expertise, especially in the energy and food industries. In our keynote discussion period, the high interest in CSR was demonstrated by very informed statements and questions from company and NGO representatives.
The Crisis Management Initiative deserves special recognition in its application of communication in the promotion of peace initiatives, often involving corporate support. This visit was especially relevant to the inspiring work of Dorothee Hutter and her organization, GIZ.
In the U.S., companies are also increasingly commitment to the CSR business model. Emphasis on CSR "cause related marketing" is making this approach "a cottage industry" in itself. Many high-level corporate communications professionals are centrally involved in managing CSR programs. However, there is great competition in this field from management consultants, lawyers, accountants and independent specialists.
In both countries, measurement of progress is an ongoing challenge. This is a catalyst for the work of the IIRC which is working to development CSR valuations to be integrated with financial valuations into a comprehensive corporate reporting.
John Paluszek - Chair 2009-2011 of the Global Alliance for PR and Communication Management
John L. Paluszek is Senior Counsel at Ketchum (New York and Washington D.C.) specializing in reputation management and corporate responsibility. He is also chairman 2099-2011 of the Global Alliance for PR and Communication Management; liaison to the United Nations for the Global Alliance and for the Public Relations Society of America; and a member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications as well as The Commission on Public Relations Education.
The PRSA 1989 national president, John has held many offices in that society and has received a number of professional awards, most recently PRSA's 2010 Atlas Award for Lifetime Achievement in International Public Relations. In 1988, shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he represented PRSA in the first US-Soviet Bilateral Information Talks in Moscow and in the first East-West Public Relations Summit in Vienna. More recently, he has chaired United Nations Global Compact conferences in Berlin and Paris. He has also lectured on corporate responsibility and reputation management at ten U.S. colleges and at business conferences on four continents.
A former journalist, John has written many commentaries for business and academic journals such as The Journal of The Public Affairs Council and Journalism Studies. He is the author of "An American Journey", his immigrant family's multi-generational memoir, and seminal books on corporate social responsibility, "Organizing for Corporate Social Responsibility" (Amacom, 1973) and "Will The Corporation Survive?" (Prentice-Hall, 1977). A graduate of Manhattan College (B.A. management) and a former member of the college's Board of Trustees, John received a Manhattan College honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, in 2005. He resides in Old Westbury, N.Y.
About the Global Alliance
The Global Alliance For Public Relations and Communication Management (http://www.globalalliancepr.org/), is the confederation of the world's major public relations and communication management associations and institutions representing 160,000 practitioners and educators around the world. The Global Alliance's mission is to unify the public relations profession, raise professional standards all over the world, share knowledge for the benefit of its members and be the global voice for public relations in the public interest.
Global Alliance Chair 2009-2011
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