Can Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) change the world?

NYSEThere’s a view that companies are built to do only three things: make profits, pay taxes and obey the law.

The rest is window dressing.

Well, those managers who subscribed to that point of view are probably now retired as the business world is increasingly being expected to take a lead role by its customers, clients and employees in making a net contribution to society rather than simply taking as much as it can for the benefit of its shareholders.

Zoroastrian philosophy

This enlightened self-interest isn’t anything new.

I belong to a tiny ethnic group – the Parsees – whose most famous export is in fact one of the most successful organisations in the world...

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Failure isn’t fatal. But failure to change might be.

UCLA basketballIn the world of American basketball, John Wooden is a legend. He coached UCLA to win 10 NCAA national championships in just 12 seasons. And he achieved this feat because of his ability to constantly adapt to new players, new rivals and new styles of play.

In our own industry, marketers and PR professionals need to be open to learning from failure.

Business leaders are continually being faced with complex changes: an aging population, the rise of the middle class in emerging economies with a different attitudes and beliefs and constant technological advancement of the web and mobile technologies that disrupt well-established business models, to a name a few.

What we’ve learnt over the past decade is that in a shifting environment consistent business performance isn’t enough to perpetuate it...

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New research shows the cognitive differences between men and women are environmental rather than genetic

hunterMen and women think differently. Ask my wife and she’ll explain this in some detail. But why we do think differently is another mystery.

Going back in time, one possible theory is that when we were hunter/gatherers different skills were required. The men spent time away from camp, tracking animals and fighting off intruders. Women needed social skills to bring up children.

Yet there are bound to be many other factors at work for this variation to survive into modern times.

The latest research suggests that living standards and access to education probably bear more responsibility for cognitive disparity between men and women than genes, nursery colours or the ability to catch a ball.

Previous studies have shown that male and female brains are wired differently.

Last year Ragini Verma of ...

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Newsflash! United States has fallen out of love with space

Obama meets suviving Apollo II crewIt was just a few weeks’ ago that we were celebrating the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing in the Oval Office.

But according to the latest evidence, Americans have fallen out of love with space missions and that’s a terrible indictment on our thirst to further explore the boundaries of our tiny universe.

An 18-month enquiry by the National Research Council (NRC) has concluded that the project to put a man on Mars to be “unsafe, underfunded and doomed to fail” in its current form.

A real kick in the pants for NASA that must feel like it’s on the longest and loneliest spacewalk mission in history.

Apparently Americans were always ambivalent about reaching for the stars, claims Matthew Tribbe, author of a new book, No Requiem for the Space Age...

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Will Scotland vote “Yes” to independence on 18 September 2014?

SNp manifestoOn the 18 September 2014 the Scottish people (pop. just over 5m) will make an historic decision. They will vote whether to remain as part of the United Kingdom or to separate from the union that has bound us together since the Act of Union 1707.

Historical background to this important referendum

This is probably one of the most important decisions that the Scottish people have had to make in the last 700 years. To understand the importance of this historic vote, it’s helpful to take a look at the events that happened over 700 years ago and in particular the Battle of Bannockburn.

Today, the Scottish town of Bannockburn lies immediately south of Sterling. It takes its name after Bannock Burn, a small stream running through the town before flowing into the River Forth.

Historians beli...

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The “boomerang generation” poses a threat and opportunity for high street retailers

gen-boomerangWhile most marketers and retailers are familiar with the online shopping concepts of “showrooming” and “webrooming”, new research by e-consultancy Red Snapper suggests that the majority of UK online consumers are now “boomerooming” which is the habit of researching online, visiting a physical store to check out the physical product and then returning online to make a purchase at a lower price.

By comparison, “showrooming” occurs when consumers examine products in-store and then go online to find a cheaper price, while “webrooming” is the practice of researching products online before buying them in a bricks and mortar store.

According to researchers, almost two-thirds (62%) of UK consumers are engaged in “boomerooming” including 67% of women and 58% of men...

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Guest blog by Richard Chaplin – the science of engagement

MRI scanMRI scans indicate that physical pleasure is experienced by the brain when we give; when people co-operate with us; when we believe we have a good reputation; or when we receive recognition. Being treated fairly by others also lights up reward pathways.

These triggers can be equally or more powerful as those for receiving financial reward.

Yet, comments Jan Hills in her excellent new book Brain Savvy HR, the remuneration policy at most firms appears to be based on two fundamentally incorrect assumptions: work is an economic exchange with time and skills given in return for money; and people are narrowly self-interested, focused on gaining benefits for themselves and avoiding physical threats and doing things for others.

There’s a great TED video in which Dan Pink comments on the mismatch...

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Reputation matters but in whom do we trust?

Smoking posterAsk most people in PR about the reputation of tobacco industry and you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers, most of which will border on the negative.

The tobacco companies have responded to the clampdown on the public sale of cigarettes through giant health warnings on packets and a steep rise in VAT by publicly talking about the need to find the “safer smoke” for its customers. And this has led to tobacco companies making massive investments in e-cigarettes.

But is this motivated by the desire to wean smokers off smoking or simply substitute one nicotine delivery system for another in order to protect market share and massive profits?

The discussions about e-cigarettes on the blogosphere and in vaping chatrooms is currently dominated by impassioned accounts from former smoke...

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Interview about best practice in marketing and public relations

20140717_084007This is a filmed interview I gave last week to the GTC Group, a leading training and coaching organisation that works with senior executives from emerging and developing countries around the world. In this interview I answer questions about global best practice in marketing and PR, the art of effective audience segmentation as well as how communication professionals can improve the outcomes from their marketing and PR activities. Running time: 15 minutes

 

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Cultural sensitivity can help to increase profits, claims new research

muslim meal timeWith British Muslims celebrating the festival of Eid al-Fitr over the coming days, new research suggests brand owners may be missing out on the sales opportunities presented by this and other cultural events. According to an online poll of 1,000 UK adults by creative agency Haygarth, nearly 30% of Asian or British Asian respondents intend to go shopping for Eid and Ramadan, the month of fasting that precedes it.This amounts to 3% of all UK consumers, leading Haygarth to warn that the retail calendar is becoming increasingly complex because of changing demographics, cultural trends and marketing techniques.

It found another 3% of UK respondents intend to shop for the Jewish festival of Passover, 7% will do so to mark the Chinese New Year, and 2% (or 26% of Asian or British Asians) wil...

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