NGOs are best at winning minds of thought leaders

WASHINGTON: Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are beating business when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of European, Australian and US 'thought leaders,' according to a new survey released by Edelman research arm StrategyOne.

WASHINGTON: Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are beating business when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of European, Australian and US 'thought leaders,' according to a new survey released by Edelman research arm StrategyOne.

WASHINGTON: Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are beating business when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of European, Australian and US 'thought leaders,' according to a new survey released by Edelman research arm StrategyOne.

The lesson is: if companies want to compete effectively with the NGOs, then they will need to overhaul their communications strategies.

While results showed low favorability when the generic term 'NGOs' was measured, power brand NGOs such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and Doctors Without Borders more than held their own in positive ratings when matched against corporate power brands such as Nike, Ford, and Monsanto.

Furthermore, the media coverage of such organizations as Greenpeace and Amnesty has more than doubled over the last four years and NGOs are considered to be more credible than the news media or business on issues involving labor, the environment, and health.

StrategyOne president and CEO Steve Lombardo suggested the NGOs' winning edge is a matter of targeting and tone and that companies would be well advised to adapt more of the tactics employed by NGOs. 'Too often companies have fallen back on communications tactics and strategies that are too narrow and scientific,' he said.

Specific NGOs are succeeding in getting their message not only heard, but accepted, because they avoid the traditional media and reach the citizen directly through the Internet and through grassroots means such as rallies and newsletters. Furthermore, businesses too often rely on technical arguments rather than those that involve 'human terms.'

One element that may be difficult for any company to overcome is the finding that thought leaders will trust NGOs more because they consider their motivation to be based on 'morals rather than profit.'

Public Affairs Council president Doug Pinkham said the report should be taken as a 'wake-up call' by large companies that have failed to embrace greater social responsibility and transparency. Pinkham warned that the 'next five to ten years will be challenging for companies that operate on a world stage' with the rise of technologically enabled activism.



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