Target Stores, which helped clean the Washington Monument, and SC Johnson Wax, which has tried to make its Wisconsin hometown a better place to live, are among seven companies cited as model corporate citizens in a new report by the Center for Corporate Community Relations.
The report, a collaboration with the American Productivity and Quality Center, is billed as the first to offer quantifiable "benchmarks" of excellence in community relations against which corporate programs can be measured. Twenty-eight companies representing various industries participated in the benchmarking study by answering questionnaires and hosting site visits.
Other firms cited in the report as standard-setters in community relations are The Home Depot, Texas Instruments, Edison International, Olin Corp. and Phillips Petroleum Co.
"This is the first survey that has put all this data together in one place," CCCR Information Services Manager Michael Ian Stevenson said of the report, "Community Relations: Unleashing the Power of Corporate Citizenship."
CCCR Director Bradley Googins, who said benchmarking has become "a standard for virtually every corporate function," hailed the report as "a breakthrough for the community relations field."
Stevenson said community relations effectiveness was measured by tracking improved sales in comparison with community relations activities, calculating "free advertising space" from positive press and surveying customer satisfaction.
The seven "best-practice" firms identified in the study share several common traits in their approach to community relations, Stevenson said. In addition to maintaining healthy CR departments with strong ties to upper management, they make regular corporate grants followed by outcome measurements, he said.
SC Johnson Wax, for example, has been active in an economic and community development program intended to improve the quality of life in its headquarters town of Racine, Wis., while Olin Corp. has established citizen advisory panels that encourage communication between the community and the chemical firm. Target Stores put money toward renovation of the Washington Monument, Stevenson added, buffing a national landmark as well as the public image of the discount chain.
Effective community relations can reduce risks for a company in an age when "there are whole Internet sites set up to boycott firms," said Stevenson.
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