PR Coalition releases white paper on recovering trust

NEW YORK: A coalition of 19 US-based business-communications trade groups and several other communications organizations have published a so-called "white paper" that outlines the ways in which corporate America can improve its credibility after suffering through two years of scandals.

NEW YORK: A coalition of 19 US-based business-communications trade groups and several other communications organizations have published a so-called "white paper" that outlines the ways in which corporate America can improve its credibility after suffering through two years of scandals.

The white paper is called Restoring Trust in Business: Models for Action, and was published by The Public Relations Coalition. The coalition represents organizations and academic groups that represent communication professionals working in corporate in-house PR, investor relations, public affairs, and other communications disciplines.

"These are people who deal with trust issues all the time," said James Murphy, global MD of marketing and communications for Accenture, and chairman of the coalition. "Therefore, we're in a good position to address them."

The 10-page paper asks American businesses and their leaders to act in three main areas: adopt ethical principles; pursue transparency and disclosure in everything they do; and make trust a fundamental precept of corporate governance.

The paper was distributed to the Fortune 500 CEOs and members of the organizations involved in the PR Coalition.

"It is important to take the initiatives found in this paper and disseminate them to corporate leaders throughout America within our respective US members, to our clients and, ultimately, to the American public at large," said Murphy.

The group also released a 16-question checklist of suggested steps designed to help companies improve trust. Some of the checklist questions include: "Do we have a program to measure trust that is tailored to the constituencies, objectives, and cultures of the company?" and, "Have we set our own social and environmental performance targets, defined what transparency means to them, and built a case for our approach?"

"We wanted this to be a diagnostic tool, and that's why we developed the questions," explained Murphy. "Companies that can answer 'Yes' to all the questions can feel comfortable about how they are doing with trust issues."

The decision to develop the white paper was born out of a one-day summit meeting held with the leadership of the PR Coalition in January.

The coalition, which was formed 1999, reports that its member groups represent more than 50,000 communications professionals. It has been meeting on an informal basis, and currently has no full-time staff or headquarters.

Murphy said that the coalition would continue to meet, and may tackle the issues of ROI and measurement next, although there are no set plans as of yet.

Some of the PR Coalition's participating groups include the Arthur W. Page Society, the Global Public Affairs Institute, the Institute for Public Relations, the International Association of Business Communicators, the International Public Relations Association, the Council of Public Relations Firms, and the National Investor Relations Institute.

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