Page-Sponsored Researchers to Speak on Corporate Social Responsibility at ICA Meeting in Seattle

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) research projects supported by the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication will take center stage from 1-5 p.m., May 22 in Seattle at a pre-conference session of the International Communications Association annual meeting.

“The research presentations will address a broad spectrum of CSR work, including environmental sustainability, social responsibility, nonprofit-corporation partnerships, employee diversity, and measurement of CSR impacts,” says Dr. Denise Bortree, senior research fellow in the Page Center, a research unit of Penn State University’s College of Communications.

“Following a panel of prominent scholars discussing recent CSR research, local practitioners will share their experiences with practical application of CSR in the field,” says Dr. Bortree, who is coordinating the pre-conference session.

Seven scholars whose CSR-related research was funded last year by the Page Center will present perspectives on their work.  They include:

  • Richard D. Waters of the University of San Francisco who will discuss an experiment to measure the effectiveness of communication of CSR efforts among non-profits.
  • Kati Tusinski Berg and Sarah Bonewits Feldner, both of Marquette University, who examine how corporations talk about the social impact of the CSR efforts and what the public expects from corporations in terms of social issues.
  • Jennifer L. Bartlett of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.  She looks into best practices and future trends in communication about diversity.
  • Sora Kim and Mary Ann T. Ferguson, both of the University of Florida, who will look at predictors to evaluate effective CSR communication.
  • Denise Bortree of Penn State University who will discuss strategies and impacts of environmental sustainability communication from Fortune 500 companies.

The International Communications Association is holding its annual meeting at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel May 22-26.  The ICA is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication.

The Page Center at Penn State is named for Arthur W. Page, longtime vice president for public relations at AT&T.  Page is often regarded as the founder of the modern practice of corporate public relations.  He was widely known for management according to the Page Principles, his guidelines for ethical and effective communication with key publics and for responsible corporate behavior.

The Page Center seeks to foster a modern understanding and application of the Page Principles.  It supports innovative research, and educational or public service projects in a variety of academic disciplines and professional fields.

Denise Bortree

Denise Bortree

Posted in Research | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Page Center Co-Founder Left His Mark on Our Telephones

Although they are separate organizations, there is a lot of cross-pollination between the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication and the similarly named Arthur W. Page Society.

The Page Center, of course, is a research unit of the College of Communications at Penn State University.  The Page Society is the premier professional association for senior corporate communications executives.

Roger Bolton, who is president of the Page Society, is also on the Advisory Board of the Page Center.  Recently, he wrote a blog post for the Page Society about the late Jack Koten, who was a co-founder of the Page Center in 2004 as well as first president of the Page Society.  It seems that Jack is likely the person responsible for putting the * and # symbols on our telephone keypads.  Read Roger’s post here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Trust Imperative

Tom Forsythe

Tom Forsythe

Tom Forsythe, Vice President of Global Communications for General Mills and the Page Professional-in-Residence at Penn State’s College of Communications this semester, delivered a public talk on “The Trust Imperative” to a campus audience Tuesday, April 8.  Hear part of what he had to say by clicking here.

Posted in Speeches | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tom Forsythe is Page Center Professional-in-Residence

General Mills VP to Address ‘The Trust Imperative’

Tom Forsythe

Tom Forsythe

The lead communicator spearheading General Mills’ proactive efforts and responses on topics ranging from palm oil to marriage equality will present a free public lecture at Penn State.

Tom Forsythe, vice president of global communications for the Minneapolis, Minn.-based consumer foods company, will address “The Trust Imperative” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in the Nittany Lion Inn Boardroom.

Forsythe will discuss how General Mills explained that its Cheerios brand of breakfast cereal would “not be made with genetically modified ingredients ” — a change the company thought consumers would embrace. He will also discuss how General Mills managed the controversy that ensued when Cheerios featured a multi-cultural family in its advertising — and when General Mills took a public stand opposing a ban on same-sex marriage.

As vice president of global communications, Forsythe leads internal and external communications for General Mills around the world. He joined the company in 1991.

Forsythe’s visit for the Arthur W. Page Center Professional-in-Residence and Lecture Series is supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Along with his public lecture, Forsythe will participate in several classroom sessions and will work with individual faculty members during his visit.

The Page Center, housed in the College of Communications, is dedicated to the study and advancement of ethics and responsibility in corporate communication and other forms of public communication. The professional-in-residence program and lecture are designed to enable industry experts to interact with Penn State students in depth about communications-related issues, and to engage the public about timely issues.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advice from the PR Pros: Alan Marks

The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication has conducted oral history interviews with dozens of the nation’s most influential public relations practitioners. The Page Center website features a vast collection of transcripts and videos of these interviews. On this blog, we will highlight some of the advice given by professionals on attaining positions in the field of public relations.

Alan Marks

Alan Marks

Alan Marks is senior vice president of corporate communications for eBay Inc., and is responsible for leading communications strategy for all areas of the company, which includes business and consumer media relations, employee communications, executive positioning and issues and reputation management. Prior to joining eBay, Marks was at Nike Inc., Gap, Inc., and Avon Products. He began his career as a journalist.

 

Communications: No longer an afterthought, driving innovation

“The most significant change I see is that in leading companies, communications is becoming a core business strategy. Executives at these types of companies… see communications as a strategic operating tool and something that’s essential to the business.”

“I think that’s very different from when communications was seen as an afterthought, or communication was seen as more of a support function or a service function versus a strategic function in the organization.”

“So that change is very exciting… There’s more opportunity and more innovation happening in our profession and in the communications world than I’ve ever seen. And that’s incredibly exciting.”

“I was having a conversation a few weeks ago with a friend, and I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be in a journalism school today or in a communications program today… When I was going through school, you either picked the editorial track or the advertising track.”

“And now it’s like well, ‘How do I want to communicate?’ ‘Do I want to be my own media outlet? I’ll create my own blog and I’ll be my own publisher and I’ll create my own audience.’”

“It’s an incredibly exciting time. And I would encourage people just starting out in their career to embrace that… Push yourself to innovate because that’s what’ll help you grow and develop and it’ll make you a better communicator and it’ll make the organization you’re working for a better organization.”

“Always figure out where the next innovation is coming from and drive for that.”

Posted in Advice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advice from the PR Pros: Ray Jordan

The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication has conducted oral history interviews with dozens of the nation’s most influential public relations practitioners. The Page Center website features a vast collection of transcripts and videos of these interviews. On this blog, we will highlight some of the advice given by professionals on attaining positions in the field of public relations.

Ray Jordan

Ray Jordan

 

Ray Jordan is senior vice president of corporate affairs at Amgen, the world’s largest independent biotech firm. A pharma veteran, he previously was vice president of communications and information at Johnson & Johnson, and brought 27 years of experience in global health care to his position at Amgen, having spent 17 years at Pfizer before joining J&J.

 

More watchdogs than ever – Changing definition of a journalist

“They still are the watchdogs. What’s new is who is a journalist. And I do believe the net of journalists is larger than it’s ever been.”

“Where there historically had been a fairly clear delineation between journalists and non-journalists—if you were a journalist you could get something published, if you were a non-journalist you’d read it. Today, what you have is a continuum of journalism which is approached on one end by our classical beat reporters who can get something published… with editorial oversight and traditional press.”

“But very rapidly [we’ve moved] to online publishers and bloggers who reach tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of readers. Sometimes more impactful collections of readers than certain print journalists.”

“All the way to the folks who are commenting in significant ways about your products. So I think the range of who is a journalist and what is their impact is changing.”

“I do think the watchdog role is still there. We feel a regular pressure from the traditional press on why we’re doing what we’re doing, how we’re doing what we’re doing. But you feel an additional pressure from the other journalists along the dimension as well.”

Posted in Advice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Teaching Module: Corporate social responsibility of ICT companies during social unrest

Arthur W. Page stood for responsibility and integrity in the telecommunications industry. He called upon the industry to “turn the searchlight on ourselves and see that we are actually, in every possible way, doing our job in the public interest” (Page, 1933, p. 6). Training students for careers in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry comes not only with an obligation to teach core concepts and analytical skills, but also the importance of having a professional conscience. The “To block or not to block: Corporate social responsibility of ICT companies during social unrest” teaching module engages students with ethical and professional standards of operating an ICT company (e.g., mobile telecommunications company, Internet service provider, or social media platform) in the 21st century.

Across developed and developing countries, social media have been influential in social movements—many of which have even been referred to as “Twitter revolutions” or “Facebook revolutions”. While social media can be used to enable the exchange of ideas, mobilize peaceful participation, and leverage issues to national or global awareness, social media can also be used to encourage violence. ICT companies have found themselves in an ethical dilemma between enabling the global free flow of information as a fundamental human right and blocking services as a means of ensuring public safety.

The teaching module is composed of two parts. The first part contains a set of readings that enable students to understand how ICTs have been used during social movements, including the roles of governments and ICT companies. Part one also teaches corporate social responsibility (CSR) through a discussion of the Page Principles and the United Nations Global Compact. The second part is an in-class role-playing activity where students must decide whether a fictitious multinational ICT company should block ICT services within a developing country undergoing a violent social movement. Students role-play multiple stakeholder roles to create principles of a corporate conscience that can be used to guide the actions of the ICT company.

At the completion of the teaching module, students should be able to:

  1. Explain the information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) research paradigm, including how this paradigm can be used to explain the role of new media as tools for democracy.
  2. Describe corporate social responsibility (CSR) in relation to the Page Principles and the United Nations Global Compact, including how CSR principles can be used to identify the social role and ethical duties of ICT companies in society.
  3. Create principles of a “corporate conscience” based off of the Page Principles.

The “To block or not to block: Corporate social responsibility of ICT companies during social unrest” teaching module is available on the Arthur W. Page Center website.

Brandie M. Nonnecke

Brandie M. Nonnecke

** Brandie M. Nonnecke is research and development manager of the Data and Democracy Initiative for the University of California at Berkeley.  She earned her Ph.D. in mass communications from Penn State University’s College of Communications in 2013. 

 

Posted in Research | Leave a comment

Training future leaders: The case study method in the classroom

by Brandie M. Nonnecke **

“In order to make the process of teaching effective it has to have variety…. It must appear in relation to what is going on in the company and the world.”

– Arthur W. Page, 1938.

In 1938, Arthur Page urged public relations practitioners to learn and apply skills of critical judgment in the solution of emerging problems. Today, we can look to Page’s words as a reminder to not only equip our students with technical knowledge but also the skills to apply this knowledge to solve contemporary problems. Case studies can be especially effective at developing students’ abilities to apply concepts and analytical techniques learned in the classroom to better understand and solve complex, real-world problems.

The case study method can improve students’ understanding of course concepts and methods through application and discussion. Case studies typically generate animated in-class discussions where students debate the definitions and applicability of course concepts and appropriate methods to solve the case problem. Through this engagement, students develop critical thinking skills including an understanding of how they can apply these skills to solve real-world problems.

The Arthur W. Page Center offers numerous teaching modules that can be downloaded for free. Case study topics focus on ethical issues in journalism and public relations, and all cases include a student guide and a teacher guide. The student guide provides a description of the learning objectives, activity instructions, needed resources, and discussion questions. The teacher guide includes all materials found in the student guide and also includes answers to the discussion questions, further clarifications, and additional resources.

If you are interested in developing your own teaching case studies, there are five parts that should be included. The mnemonic device “CASES” can be used as a reminder of the five parts:

(1) Concrete learning objectives. Learning objectives should be clearly defined. Clearly defined learning objectives allow students to form a connection between the case study activity and overall course concepts/methods.

(2) Assemble the case study. Case studies can be built from real-world situations or from imagination. It is important that all necessary information is included for students to successfully solve the case problem.

(3) Set up the challenge or activity for the students. The case study should pose a challenge or provide an activity that actively engages students with the material.

(4) Engage students in thought-provoking questions and discussion. Students should be able to openly discuss the case, including the utility of course concepts and methods to solve the case problem.

(5) Student reflection. It is important to reiterate the connection between the case study activity and learning objectives. Students should take time to reflect on the utility of the case study in explaining course concepts/methods.

To further enrich your case study, multimedia material including oral interviews, videos, research studies, and Arthur W. Page speeches are freely available on the Page Center website.

Brandie M. Nonnecke

Brandie M. Nonnecke

** Brandie M. Nonnecke is research and development manager of the Data and Democracy Initiative for the University of California at Berkeley.  She earned her Ph.D. in mass communications from Penn State University’s College of Communications in 2013. 

Posted in Advice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advice from the PR Pros: Bill Nielsen

The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication has conducted oral history interviews with dozens of the nation’s most influential public relations practitioners. The Page Center website features a vast collection of transcripts and videos of these interviews. On this blog, we will highlight some of the advice given by professionals on attaining positions in the field of public relations.

Bill Nielsen

Bill Nielsen

 

Willard “Bill” Nielsen served as consultant to management of for-profit and non-profit organizations. He retired as a corporate vice president of Johnson & Johnson.

 

The importance of counseling in the corporate PR world

“CEOs today are smarter and smarter about their roles and they are also surprised, most of them, to learn how much time they have to devote in their roles to communications. And they know they need counsel to do that.”

“It’s an interesting topic to take up with younger people, particularly in college and communications schools because they all ask the question, ‘well how do you become a counselor?’ I usually say, starting right now, everything that you do, every project that you take on needs to be looked at and you need to take from that involvement or that project or that assignment, something that you learned about the execution of that.”

“That becomes eventually a part of who you are. When you turn around and start providing counsel to those who are younger or to organizations, you’re going to find yourself drawing on those experiences. And that’s how you become a counselor.”

“There isn’t any strict academic track that you have to follow. It’s more a matter of paying attention to what’s happening around you, what you’re doing, and the reasons why certain things have occurred… That’s the way to begin to get there.”

“I would also say that the college experience… the bottom line is, they’re there to learn how to learn. The requirement for a bachelor’s degree, or whatever, is not dependent necessarily on rote memorization of formulas or a perfect recitation of American history. But these subjects are put out to students to teach them how to learn.”

“And that’s a particularly critical element in the background of a good public relations person: the ability to learn, the ability to learn quickly and the ability to take that new learning and to act on it. That’s certainly the bottom line in good crisis management.”

Posted in Advice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Remembering Page Center Co-Founder Jack Koten

John A. (Jack) Koten

John A. (Jack) Koten

John A. (Jack) Koten, one of three co-founders of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State, died on Friday, January 3, 2014.

We are deeply saddened by Jack’s death,” said Marie Hardin, director of the Page Center.  “With his passing, we have now lost two of our three founders within the space of three months.”

Larry Foster, another co-founder of the Page Center, died in October.  The Center began in 2004 as a result of efforts by Foster, Koten and Ed Block.

“The Page Center is profoundly grateful for the work that Jack did on our behalf,” said Hardin.  “He, Larry Foster and Ed Block knew that academic research at the intersections of integrity and communication was needed as the next step to illuminate the paths of professionalism in public relations and journalism.”

As a result of their vision, The Page Center, a research unit of Penn State University’s College of Communications, has grown into the world’s single best repository of scholarship on the topic of integrity in communication, Hardin added.

Jack Koten was a founding director and first president of the Arthur W. Page Society. During his career he worked in a variety of operating, financial and corporate communications departments for Illinois Bell, AT&T, New Jersey Bell and Ameritech Corp.

At Chicago-based Ameritech Corp., one of seven telecommunications companies divested by AT&T in 1984 as the result of a federal government antitrust lawsuit, he served as senior vice president of corporate communications.  He also was president of the Ameritech Foundation, which made grants totaling $25 million annually to education, economic development and cultural institutions.

After he retired, Koten organized The Wordsworth Group, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting non-profit organizations to improve their management practices, reputation and revenues. He received numerous awards and honors, including honorary doctoral degrees from two institutions, and was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society’s Hall of Fame in 1995.

Roger Bolton, a Page Center Advisory Board member, and president of the Arthur W. Page Society, wrote a tribute about Jack Koten’s contributions to his profession here.  In 2004, Koten sat for an oral history interview for the Page Center in which he discussed, in detail, the famous Page Principles.  That can be found here.

“All who knew him have warm memories of Jack and share with me the deepest sense of loss at his passing,” said Hardin.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment