NEW YORK, January 31—With the controversial World Economic Forum set to meet in New York and the debate over Enron and Arthur Andersen focusing intense scrutiny on corporate accountability, Ketchum has announced the formation of Ketchum Corporate Social Responsibility, a global specialty area that will focus on counseling and communications services related to corporate social responsibility and sustainable growth.
The new practice will bring together executives in multiple offices including London, New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong. In North America, the CSR leaders are John Paluszek, senior counselor; Gavin Power, senior vice president; and Erika Gabrielsen, senior vice president. In Europe, the unit will be led by Richard Aldwinckle, managing director of the corporate practice; and in Asia Pacific, by Denise Kaufmann, vice president and group manager.
In addition, the new unit will draw on the expertise of Stromberg Consulting, a Ketchum company that specializes in change-management communications.
“Corporate social responsibility is the 21st century management philosophy that advances commercial and financial success by demonstrating respect for ethical values, people, communities, and the physical and social environment,” says Raymond Kotcher, senior partner and chief executive. “Social responsibility helps companies reach their business objectives while meeting society’s rapidly expanding expectations of the private sector.”
To support the launch of the practice, the firm released a new report on corporate social responsibility showing the media have the most powerful influence on how people and politicians think about and act on CSR and sustainable development, but typically overlook significant, longer-term trends in favor of more dramatic and immediate news.
The report also finds that, as businesses themselves, key media institutions are amongst the least transparent and accountable organizations in the world, and are likely to come under increasing scrutiny in their own right.
The report, entitled Good News and Bad: The Media, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development, was produced by Ketchum with SustainAbility, a social responsibility consulting firm, in co-operation with the United Nations Environment Programme.
Key findings include:
  • There have been several waves in the CSR and SD movements, starting in the 1960s. We are currently entering the third (‘globalization’) wave, which has gained momentum since the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999. But September 11 has shaken the CSR and SD movements, and the long-term positive or negative ramifications remain to be seen.
  • European media have led the way, typically acting as an incubator for many CSR and SD issues that are then picked up in the US and further afield. Oxfam, Greenpeace and Amnesty International in particular have been key drivers of CSR media coverage throughout the decade. 
  • U.S. media are paying increasing editorial attention to CSR and SD issues, and U.S.-based NGOs are becoming increasingly visible.
According to the report’s authors, John Elkington and Francesca Müller of SustainAbility, “The editors and journalists we interviewed are among the best brains on the subject in the world, but they find these issues tough to communicate in a sound-bite culture. While the media tend to cover dramatic events, such as anti-globalization protests or the destruction of GM crops, there is typically less examination of the broad CSR agenda. As Greenpeace campaigner, Chris Rose, observed in our interviews, ‘This is equivalent to covering economies by only reporting bank robberies.’”