There have never been so many challenges facing the communications industry. Technology, AI, diminished brand trust, balancing truth with public interest, and the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are just a few issues the industry is currently grappling with. This industry is tasked with identifying current and future challenges to either avoid them or turn them into opportunities.
Here are three topical issues affecting the communication industry today:
CSR / corporate purpose
Customers — particularly millennials and Gen Z — are becoming increasingly aware of the role of CSR and ethical practices as an integral part of an organisations’ value system. A report issued by Deloitte earlier this year revealed that younger generations are actively supporting businesses that make a positive impact on society. They prefer companies that align with their values when it comes to doing businesses or buying a product or opting for services. In fact, 84% of millennials, as per the report, said that making a positive difference in the world is more important for them than professional recognition.
If a business is perceived as putting its bottom line ahead of global considerations, it can fast gain a bad reputation and may even be boycotted. According to a YouGov report, tax avoidance and evasion is the number one reason for boycotting a brand (55% of those surveyed admitted to having stopped using a brand for that reason), 40% stopped using a brand because of staff being treated unfairly (such as unfair working hours) and just over a third (36%) were prompted by workers in the supply chain for being treated badly.
Tax shaming has affected global stalwarts such as Google, Starbucks, and Amazon, who were sent before the UK Public Accounts Committee as a result of avoiding tax. The media coverage resulted in widespread boycotting of these companies and has had a long-term impact on their brand reputation.
A brand must be seen to be making a difference — internal CSR practices are not enough if there is no external outreach. Closely aligning to CSR is the necessity for transparency and authenticity in communication.
Sarah Longbottom is Director of Strategy & Planning at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me