Long run brings out good horse
In this competitive world, it is intensive for companies or brands to survive, and cost them much better to be in consumers’ top of mind. Therefore, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is seen as a voluntary action that can make corporations win the hearts of their consumers. Particularly, CSR will contribute to build corporations’ sustainable development if it is strategically planned and invested to be a part of their business strategy. However, because the CSR concept has just been well-known in Vietnam for a few years, there is not much corporations, especially state companies, are aware of how to build a strategic and long-term CSR program. Therefore, it is a challenge and responsibility for CSR management service in Vietnam to give them most helpful advice and suitable approach. As a result, the purpose of this article is to not only identify reasons for clients following long-term CSR programs, but most importantly to provide CSR management’s tips and sustainability approach that help the clients’ long-run orientation in Vietnamese context.
However, to reach the best impact of this article with practical information, it is vital to have a person who has have experiences in the CSR management field. Therefore, my topic’s interview subject is Truong Thuy Thien Huong (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is a Senior Account Executive from Golden Communication Group, specialized in Public Relations (PR). Golden Communication Group is one of the top state agencies in Vietnam that is utilized with six highly specialized communication companies which work together to serve as a “One Stop Shop” for advertisers (Golden Communication Group 2012). Additionally, Ms. Huong is now working on a ten-year CSR project called “Den Dom Dom” (DDD) of FrieslandCampina Vietnam (FCV), owner of famous milk brand Ductch Lady. Therefore, I believe that her sharing and opinions will be a great and practical reference for my topic.
Reproduced from: www.facebook.com/Truong-Thuy-Thien-Huong 2012
Proof of Life
Why it should be CSR long-run orientation?
According to Millon, D (1990), a CSR project need to help corporations generate profits or social impact to survive; however, the aim of a wise survival is not short-term profit maximization, but long-run profit instead. He also highlighted that long-term CSR would generate sustainably well-being for the corporation’s stakeholders including customers, workers, and suppliers, which would lead to its long-run prosperity Millon, D (1990). In reality, Ms. Huong also gave the same idea that long-term CSR programs created an ongoing impact to the society, which helped corporations improve their image and even get financial return. DDD is her example. This ten-year CSR project has become so familiar to Vietnamese. Due to its strategic and long-term orientation, now when people mention DDD, we think of a caring image associated with FCV, or Dutch Lady. The project has truly made a foreign milk brand become a spiritual cosmetic brand in Vietnamese eyes, which is a big deal for Dutch Lady in the competition with other local milk brands. However, all these social benefits and profits can be achieved only “if companies are willing to spend money on projects that will earn returns in the future” Millon, D, p.533 (1990).
It is all about the cause.
In every problem, in order to figure out solutions, it is vital to find out the reasons behind it first. In this case, it is necessary to understand why companies do not apply long-term approach to CSR. From the practical perspective of Ms. Huong, the two main reasons are limited budget and lack of knowledge (figure 1). However, the most basic cause we also need to consider is the four dimensions of CSR theory presenting why companies do CSR, including profits, political performance, social demands, and ethical values (figure 1) (Garriga, E and Mele, D 2004). In fact, Ms. Huong pointed out that several clients comes to her that do not even know why they want to do CSR, which is all shown on their unclear brief. Therefore, as a CSR manager, we should clarify this first because it can affect the whole CSR campaign’s orientation. In order to give client’s most suitable and effective advice, I think that CSR managers need to connect and consider both these two issue together. Two typical situations that will be talked about are the case that have budget and lack knowledge, and another is no budget and no knowledge.
Reproduced from: webmoneymaker.net 2012
Firstly, if the client lacks knowledge when they want some of the four purposes in CSR theory, a CSR managers’ job is not only to educate them the benefits of CSR long-term orientation, but also to make them feel reliable with our commitment when we present the process of how the agency will manage it. For example, weekly and annual reports, conference planning and records, as well as regular meetings are Ms. Huong’s CSR management tasks that she needs to inform the clients. Particularly, CSR managers need to know the agency’s strength that can meet the need of client. For example, one of the main goals of DDD project is to have positive image and connection with Vietnamese government because this is a very important deal for a foreign company who runs business in Vietnam. Therefore, Golden’s strength of a state agency that already has close relationship with media and government is the perfect candidate for the project.
Reproduced from: vectorlogos.nl 2012
Secondly, with the clients that have limited budget when they aim at any of the four purposes in CSR theory. Educating them might be ineffective because from Ms. Huong’s experiences, she used to work with a client that has limited budget on their CSR event, and even after the plan has already set, they did not do it after all. Therefore, in this economic crisis time, budget seems to be the most serious concern for every corporation, even with big and medium one. However, there are still rooms for the agency to perform as a consultant if the CSR managers proactively update new form of CSR activities. Ms. Huong also said that small and medium corporations will find it difficult to do CSR due to its major essence of giving back to society and possibly not getting financial return. Therefore, Ms. Huong’s solution is to consult them with a more sustainable model which is called Creating Shared Value (CSV). CSV is believed to be the model that helps corporations while doing good to society but also making profits. However, CSV will be another story that needs to be investigated to know more. The point here is that a CSR manager should give the client more choices if another does not work for them. And according to (Solomon, R 2008), it is better to give clients more choices because it shows that the agency is creative enough to give them more ideas and options.
CSR has still been a very new concept with local corporations in Vietnam. International companies like FCV is easier for agencies to work with because they have certain and even advanced knowledge about CSR, and most importantly, they know what they want to do, and why they do CSR. However, with a large number of fast-growing local companies, they are more and more knowledgeable about the importance of CSR activities and its impact. Therefore, a CSR manager should never ignore the local businesses because they really have potential to be our big clients in the future. At the same time, practitioners who work in CSR management service should always improve their management skills. The first important thing every CSR managers should know is to learn, and to be aware of everything happens around the global communication industry. This will help the agency to be the expert who is client’s first choice in CSR field. Secondly, not every client comes to the agency with a clear purpose of what they want. Therefore, CSR managers should clarify their clients’ orientation first, then use the expertise to consult them about CSR long-run orientation, or whatever approach that most effective for clients’ goal and conditions. Finally, no client is impossible to work with, especially those who have limited budget. It is simply because they do not know any other choice. As a CSR manager, we need to figure it out and give it to them, and then sooner or later, we will be their favorite.
Word count: 1200
Garriga, E and Mele, D 2004, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Theories: Mapping the Territory’, Journal of Business Ethics, Kluwer Academic Publisher, Netherlands, vol 53, pp. 51-71.
Golden Communication Group 2012, “Golden Group Story”, homepage, blog.goldendigital.com.vn, viewed 8 May 2012.
Millon, D 1990, “Two Model of Corporate Social Responsibility”, Theories of the Corporation, DUKE L.J.201.
Solomon, R 2008, ‘Choice is Good’, The Art of Client Service, Revised and Updated Edition: 58 Things Every Advertising & Marketing Professional Should Know, Kaplan publishing, c.15, p. 44.
Vectorlogos 2012, ‘Low budget logos’, image, vectorlogos.nl, viewed in 8 May 2012, < http://www.vectorlogos.nl/blog/low-budget-logos/>.
Webmoneymaker 2012, ‘Save and earn money online with credit cards’, image, webmoneymaker.net, viewed in 8 May 2012, < http://webmoneymaker.net/2012/04/02/save-and-earn-money-online-with-credit-cards/<.