Saturday 25 July 2009

Pack more punch against corporate power

Corporate responsibility is taking a new turn. And it could be a productive swing.
In days gone by corporate responsibility meant waving a wad of money at a charity which projected a cuddly image in the annual shareholders brochure - something with children and animals would often be appropriate.
In today's world of social networking and people power, suited-and-booted corporate social responsibility teams should be ready to embrace a new definition of their work. It needs to include a corporate responsibility to be more responsive to society (including their own customers). And beware those who don't. A lack of responsibility breeds customer contempt, and customers can now pack more punch than ever before.
As Paul Prowse argued here last week, global social media which are now part of the public's armoury - Facebook and YouTube are examples of this - offer a power that corporations should worry about.
These media can also be used to cause large corporations to change their policies or risk public damage to their reputation.
My favourite recent example of this is the story of Dave Carroll and his guitar. The Canadian folk singer has managed to take his compensation case against United Airlines damaging his guitar during a flight to a massive worldwide audience through music.
The power of the music video message to United is that it has already attracted an audience of 3.7 million on YouTube.
Carroll turned to YouTube with his tune "United Breaks Guitars" after his one-year attempt to weave his way through a maze of "customer service" phone lines at the airline failed miserably.
The power of YouTube to take this musical message to the people is such that United have now admitted their mistake, and have given £3000 to a music charity.
Too late, we scream, if you had held your hands up and apologised months ago, then it would have been better for you and your corporate image.
And this suddenly makes a difference, the public now has more space to challenge a company's puffed-up projection of itself. And a good job too. It might finally help to level up that power struggle between a solitary individual against the mighty. Unfortunately we might not all have the musical talent.
PS - Is it my imagination or was there a lot of punch ups in the papers this week? Winehouse, Law and Gerrard - a three-hander.

1 comment:

historian said...

Yet there's a company which makes its money from government contracts busily getting hostile websites and blogs closed down.