Communication Matters - our blog on trends and events


Has the Nation Reached a Turning Point with the Corporate World? Media Coverage Says Yes

You could hear it in Mayor Tony Kennon’s voice. The emotion, call it restrained anger, as he discussed the oil spill in the Gulf and one of the many shocking apparent results, the suicide of his friend and community colleague Allen Kruse.
“You have no idea how angry I am,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during a recent interview.  “Because of corporate greed, and I never thought I would use that (term), selfishness, the pursuit of the dollar….we have this catastrophe.”
He added a final jab, “It’s what gives corporate greed validity.”
This clearly moved and frustrated mayor, who spoke with anger and eloquence, also raised a piercing question: Have we reached a tipping point, a growing, public discontent with Corporate America?
“Corporate greed,” Kennon said. “I never thought I would use that (term).”
But use that term he did. For corporations seeking clues and insights into public sentiment, study the media. After all, the media have fully covered damaging stories involving Wall Street, financial institutions, the housing industry, the mining industry, automakers and now the oil and gas sector.
After a while, companies within these sectors and in some regards, all of Corporate America, inevitably are painted with same broad brush.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich alluded to this collateral damage in a recent blog post. “Whether it’s Wall Street or health insurers or oil companies, we are approaching a turning point,” he wrote.
Carl Lavin, a managing editor at Forbes and, recognizes this phenomenon and argues that companies that practice consistent media outreach and transparency still have an opportunity to build credibility with the public.
“I always favor openness and I see plenty of good examples of companies that are active and open when crises strike,” he told the recently. “In the past, you only have to look back to the famous Tylenol story to see how transparency benefits an organization in troubled times. There are people who take that transparency very seriously—particularly when it comes to crisis planning and prevention.” 
(Full disclosure note: In the same interview, Lavin mentions me as someone who stresses openness as a way to establish good relationships with the media.)
Still, Lavin’s message, and the public’s message is clear. The nation as a whole has reached a turning point in its relationship with the corporate world. How companies foster their own relationships with customers, employees and the media will have increasingly significant impacts on their long-term success.

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