As the public images of certain technology groups continue to suffer from revelations in the media of overly-effective tax planning, we noted that Google topped a recent Havas Media survey of ‘Meaningful Brands’, which attempts to connect human well-being with brands at a business level.
It may not be immediately easy to see why a search provider should top such a list; however, Google maintains an active program of social contribution that includes funding for social projects, charitable donations and relief aid.
Starbucks, which came 17th on the list, Apple (22nd) and Amazon (did not place) have also suffered PR crises following revelations of their tax arrangements. This will not be helped by, what Harvard Professor Gregory Unruh calls, a ‘reactive CSR strategy’ – typified by Apple’s decision to pay an additional £20m to HMRC, following the public outcry.
What can I do?
Not all businesses have deep enough pockets to fund international charity projects that appear across the global press. Yet there certainly are cost-effective ways to appear socially responsible at a local or regional level – recycling, green energy initiatives and local charity sponsorship or volunteer-work at a company level can all go some way to improving public image.
What’s in it for me?
- Increasingly, customers are expecting companies to be more philanthropic and socially responsible.
- media:tech services or platforms often have low switching costs for consumers, which makes them vulnerable to shifts in public opinion.
- Either on a national, regional or local level, creating an image of social responsibility through appropriate, visible actions can be cost-effective and attract custom.