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Archive for the category “CSR”

The “once upon a time” story of trust from fairytales to modern life.

Words and interview by Nguyen Minh Phuc (s3394135)

I’m sure nearly everyone who went through their wonderful childhood has ever heard about the bedtime story of a mermaid falling in love with a prince and they live happily forever after. It is a Disney Channel movie named “The little mermaid”. In order to get into the surface and seek for her true love, Ariel the mermaid exchanges her beautiful voice for becoming a human for three days to Ursula, the evil mermaid witch with the belief that the witch would only use it for the harmless purposes. However, things turn out to be not very good when Ursula use this contract to trick Ariel’s father, who is the king of the ocean and plans to revenge and rules the sea.

Now, I guess you are wondering why I spend a lot of words to tell this story. Well, it is to show that in term of business, some bad agencies can take advantage of the vague contracts as well as clients’ trust for their own benefits. This could lead to the problem that “clients started to become more and more suspicious and hard to put faith on other agencies, especially when it comes to important deals” as Mr. Jerry Thach, my interviewee said. He is currently working as Vietnam project manager at Cloud 9 production, a company specializes in producing short films. With five years of experience in working with various clients, he will talk about many kinds of trust as well as the brief way to gain and regain it.


Figure 1: Mr. Jerry Thach, Project Manager at Clould 9 Production (photo provided by interviewee)

Long term versus short term trust.

Trust obviously is very important since it is the foundation of every relationship. In term of business, the bond between employers and employees within a firm as well as business man with others is built and maintained by trust. In fact, without it, the whole economic system would collapse and never be able to develop itself (Shapiro, Sheppard & Charaskin 1992).

In the interview, Mr. Jerry mentioned that there consists short term and long term trust. Asides from knowing client to identify the right target audience, he noticed that: “Short term trust is similar to first impression while long term one appears after time of working and having faith with your counterparts”. Without short term trust, known as first impression, agency will never be able to establish further relationships (Hall 2009).

Mr. Jerry pointed out that the key to gain impression in this situation is to be able to control your agency’s information and images toward public as well as your clients. “Inexperienced agencies often let their negative information and rumor spread out freely in the Internet and media devices; therefore, from the beginning, due to the underestimation of media power, they have failed to keep and obtain clients’ trust “.

“And it’s even harder to maintain trust”, my interviewee shared, “Once you got the faith of client, it’s crucial to develop it in order to achieve long term trust”. In this state, what agencies do, commit, promise and agree with their clients will determine the relationships. An agency that put effort on their clients’ request and achieve elements such as: timeliness, efficiency, the ability to go through obstacles and get the committed result would have a higher chance to be long-term trusted by their customers. Significantly, being proactive, anticipating clients’ need and actively respond to it will help the agency have a better outcome (Beverland, Farrelly & Woodhatch 2007).


Figure 2: Reproduced from Mick (2012)

Affective trust and cognitive trust.

As Mr. Jerry mentioned about affective and cognitive trust, I was very surprised. I didn’t expect to hear such a deep analysis comes from him, it was an exciting experience. My interviewee calls affective trust as the emotional trust which does not depend on consciousness of human mind. I found two authors which support his statement: Webber and Klinmoski (2004) where they claimed that it relies on emotional bond between people and people without further requirements. The second type is cognitive trust, in which characteristics, knowledge and other elements come from people personal lives and education background can affect their decision. It also called condition trust. Mr. Jerry explained that these two factors are similar to long term and short term trust; however, these kinds of trust is very difficult to identify and measure as they are in different level in each individual. He also said that affective trust and cognitive trust always come together in almost every relationship, even though sometimes one will take the priority toward other.


Figure 3: Mr. Jerry with Mr.Hung Cuu Long, CEO – Owner of Cuu Long Jewelry (photo provided by interviewee)

Say “no” to clients:  the two-edged knife.

“An agency has its own ability and cannot always meet the clients’ demands;” my interviewee stated, “therefore, saying no to them is inevitable.” He also shared that in this case, what agency should do is being honest, admit that the company cannot fulfill it, explain about the strong aspects of the agency and provide possible solutions. Nevertheless, it is “two-edged knife”. When agency is honest to their clients, either they would feel a bit uncomfortable but still trust agency or might judge the ineffectiveness of this firm and decide to stop working with them.

Trust: hard to build, easy to destroy and extremely hard to rebuild.

“Trust always exists”, Mr. Jerry stated at the end of the interview, “it just constantly change the way it functions.” With seven years of working and five years as manager for many companies, through Mr. Jerry’s experiences, he provided me with three points that a client managers should know. They are prestige, personality and personal background. “Prestige and personal background allow client to know little about you when they decided to approach their counterpart. From these, you create credibility to make your client feel comfort and secure.” However, according to my interviewee, the manager’s personality turns out to be the most important element. “You cannot always talk about business. Going out, having fun, showing that you also want to be more than a business partner with client. Remember their birthday, sing some songs. Clients are human too, they will appreciate your effort and even though you might not have a contract with them, they will still have a good impression on you. And that is when trust started to emerge.”

One of the fastest ways to lose trust is to provide “inconsistent messages” (Galford & Drapeau 2003). As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, agencies must strive to complete clients’ requests as well as keeping their commitments. Mr. Jerry emphasized that in order to regain trust, “we should clearly identify the situation as well as understand the nature of problem.” From that, agency must provide a solution to solve the issue. “But first, whether how hard it is, agency must admit their failure and show the will to fix the problem to the client.” Clients only give only one change, it is the job for agencies to take advantage of it. Mr. Jerry suddenly stopped and after a while, he smiled and concluded that “And maybe, after showing the honesty to fix the problem, clients would put greater faith on you, but it is more fragile like a mirror that reflects yourself.”


Figure 4: Poof of Life (taken by Hieu Tran)

Word count: 1147



Beverland, M, Farrelly, F & Woodhatch, Z 2007, “Exploring the Dimensions of Proactivity within Advertising Agency-Client Relationships”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 36, no. 4, pp.49-60.

Galford R & Drapeau AS 2003,’The Enemies of Trust’, Harvard Business Review, Ferbruary, pp.88-95.

Galford R & Drapeau AS 2003,’The Enemies of Trust’, Harvard Business Review, Ferbruary, pp.88-95.

Hall, M 2009, Soft skills at work: First impression may be the last impression, if you aren’t careful, Annapolis, United States, Annapolis.

Mick, C 2012, ‘Trust Flow in SEO’, image, viewed 22 August 2013, <>

Shapiro DL, Sheppard BH & Cheraskin L 1992, ’Business on a Handshake’, Negotiation Journal, October, pp. 365-377.

Webber SS & Klimoski RJ 2004, ‘Client–project manager engagements, trust, and loyalty’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 25, pp. 997-1013.





CSR for employees management


     Corporate social responsibility, also known as CSR, is a concept that has been used by hundreds of corporation as an essential part of reputation building for years. It has been proven that the practice of CSR can bring notably benefits for the corporation. For instance, practicing CSR would prove that a corporation has high sense of moral obligation which not only good for its reputation but also make it easier for the organization to earn the local license to operate, thus, contribute considerably to corporate sustainable development (Porter & Kramer 2006). Nevertheless, there is not much has been said about the important of CSR to corporate management. While several managers think of CSR as a key to improve managing strategy, this notion appears to be lack of attention by scholars. Hence, this article aims to address how CSR can contribute to the management of an organization.

Sharing words of wisdom, Mr. Paul Huynh has agreed to reveal the important of CSR for managing employees as the senior manager of human resources department of KPMG Vietnam, a well-known audit organization that embraces CSR into its core value (KPMG n.d.).



Discussions over CSR have pointed out the guideline for conducting CSR is: the voluntary commitment of a corporation to go over its minimum legal requirement to do good for the society (Banerjee 2007). In case of KPMG Vietnam, Mr. Paul finds the organization has been operating CSR with similar spirit. He expresses that there are two main reasons why CSR is embraced as a core value of KPMG. First of all, like any other organization, the development of KPMG has much to credit to the resources supplied from the community. Thus, conducting CSR is a way to give something back to the community either it is internal of external. Secondly, CSR for KPMG is a way to unite the company and leverage employees’ spirit.

It is of no surprise that the first reason is to give back to the community since it is CSR that we are talking about. However, what more interesting to explore is the idea of incorporating CSR into human resources management which might only exist in KPMG. Proudly sharing his belief Mr.Paul said: ‘when we have all the employees committing to do charity works, there is something very special that happens to the employees and we feel like we are one’. While it might sounds like an opinion, studies conducted by Ali, Nasruddin & Lin (2010) has pointed out that company with good practices of CSR would improve the normative commitment of employees, thus, saving up lots of financial expenses due to turnover. Another important point that Mr. Pual share with other scholar is that CSR can help attract lots of talented job applicant (Kim & Park 2011). According to Mr. Paul, one of the interesting reasons for might be because of the value of generation Y: ‘This is the generation that want to “make the different”. This is one of the qualities that I found about this generation coming up. They have a very unique quality to leave their footprint in the world. So I think companies that want to attract generation Y need to allow their employee that potential’. It is certain that employees are important part of any organization. Without them to create and deliver the products/services to customers a company cannot grow properly. Hence, the idea of using CSR to attract and untie the employees becomes an important note for managers to consider applying in their work.

An inspiration quote from Mr. Paul regarding to the important of CSR for corporate management: ‘Anytime that you can work with people who have the same belief and value would create something very powerful. Especially then it means that people will come to work excited for more than just receiving the monthly salary’.

However, the idea is not so easy to implement in practice. Critics has been raising concern about many corporations has been conducting CSR simply as a political movement to satisfice public demands. According to Mr. Paul, CSR should never be conducted just for the sake of building reputation or making revenue. Unfortunately, many corporations have been doing CSR because NGOs and government forced them to (Griffin 2008) while they do not want to address as having low obligation which would result in negative impact to their reputation, especially at time when information technology are so well developed. As the result, the CSR initiatives become lack of two important components which is “commitment” and “voluntary”. Corporations of this kind are easily identified in time of financial crisis when their mangers will cut-off the CSR budget to pay for other expenses. Hence, one tips from Mr. Paul for corporation which one to truly embrace CSR into their value like KPMG is CSR should be instill in the DNA of corporate daily works. Company should have a year-round plan for CSR instead of only annual charity events.

The interview with Mr. Paul has really changed my opinion for CSR. Before, I only think of CSR simply as a tool for branding. But now, CSR to me can be a belief that unites the employees, a belief that drives them to wake up every day to go to work with excitement. Thus, company should carefully plan their CSR strategy as it would bring much more benefit than any CSR report can show.


Ali, AA, Nasruddin, E & Lin, SK 2010, ‘Relationship between internal corporate responsibility and organizational commitment within the baking sector in Jordan’, International Journal of Human and Social Sciences, vol.5, no. 14, pp. 932-951

Benerjee, SB 2007, Corporate Social Responsibility: the good, the bad and the ugly, Edward Elger Publishing Limited Cheltenham, UK

Griffin, A 2008, New strategies for reputation management: gaining control of issues, crises & corporate social responsibility, Kogan Page Limited, London, UK

Iccsr n.d., ‘Implanmentationicon’, image,, viewed 1 September 2012, <>

KPMG .n.d, ‘Who we are’, KPMG, viewed 1 September 2012, <>

Porter, ME & Kramer, MR 2006, ‘Strategy & society: The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility’, Harvard Business Review, December, pp. 1-7, Brick of reading distributed for COMM2384 Client Management, RMIT University, Ho Chi Minh city

CSR isn’t Charity!

I could hear the sound of my wall-clock ticking and when it was blowing up at 11 pm, the one that I had been waiting for was online on Skype. At this very late at night, an ordinary 26-year-old girl should tuck into her bed and sleep tight; however, she just came back home and had her dinner. Being busy with her position as Practice Head of T&A Ogilvy Vietnam, managing a group of practical and rigid technological-related clients, she is supposed to be stressed out. However, miss Quynh Trang appears to be very satisfied with her current job as “I can help those practical people see another dimension beside machines and theoretical principles, another taste of life where humanity and sympathy for their disadvantaged fellows come in”.

Miss Nguyen Quynh Trang and the strangest interview meeting ever

Yes, it’s the feeling that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) gives to each person. Feeling good, feeling proud and feeling optimistic.

Ever since CSR becomes one big part of every company, no matter they are big or small, a concern is raised whose answer is controversial:

“CSR is from guiltiness or willingness for the good of the society?”

Reproduced from T&A Ogilvy 2011

According to Keinert (2008), CSR is “describing the relationship between business and the larger society surrounding it…” (p. 38). CSR doesn’t mean the same to everyone (Keinert 2008). Some may see it as a type of branding; some may see it as an advertising tool;  even worse, some see it as an action to ease the guiltiness in the mind of companies’ management board. In most cases, people don’t see CSR as an action of a group of people but of a particular top person in the company only.

Miss Trang affirmed that only a small part in the purpose of CSR is branding so we don’t have to be afraid that people misunderstand our action. However, the companies themselves have to clarify the differences between CSR and Charity. We can either financially support poor people or give time to help them with actual physical activities (Zullo 2011). It’s all for social advantage because charity itself is an action that we give poor people something to make their lives better; but here “CSR is a way for a company to “pay back” to the society what it takes away so basically it speaks for the responsibility of a company towards the society and also its customers. It represents the philosophy and the values that a company stands for.” In addition, miss Trang admitted that “regarding branding, it is also a communication tool to arouse the good image of the company in the audiences’ perception.” Speaking of “taking away”, what business actually exploit is the local resources such as people, land to build factory, etc. In other words, they create jobs, and at the same time, taking a husband away from his home to work for them. That’s ironic!

Stepping in the agency’s shoes, what miss Trang said made me come up with some new viewpoints. We are not in the opposite side with the clients; in fact, we are helping them gain trust and favor from stakeholders and customers. Therefore, we should understand our clients’ business to offer a suitable CSR plan. All of a sudden, the set of words “Live the client’s brand” (Solomon 2008) pops up in my mind. This is the wisdom that we were taught at school as we should get to know the value of the brand and the vision that the brand sets. Thereby, our CSR plan is more likely to meet with the client’s expectation. Interestingly, there is no particular field of CSR; yet, there are global programs for CSR and “it is most effective in practice when it is tailored to match the company’s capability to pay back the taken resources with the social concerns.” miss Trang stated.

Reproduced from Canon 2012

Time was still passing while the long hand of my clock had almost reached number 12. It’s midnight. While it was such a quiet night scene outside my window, there I was, sitting in front of my laptop in my little room talking via Skype with miss Trang who was still excited talking about “Kyosei”. She believes it should be the motto for every company, not just for Canon, which is famous for a series of CSR programs such as “Help with love”*, “One photo – One action”*, “For a green Vietnam”*, etc. It’s a Japanese term that describes fully the meaning of CSR and represents the heart of the company. Not only does the company feel good about themselves but also PR practitioners who get involved in any CSR campaign would feel proud of themselves.

The kids are very happy”, miss Trang recalled. Each trip visiting different school in remote areas to give poor children stationery for studying gave her different experiences.  Looking at disadvantaged people shining their smiles, T&A Ogilvy actually gives them a reason to believe in the brighter future. Especially with Canon, one of T&A Ogilvy’s long-lasting clients, whenever they hold a CSR campaign, there was always a Japanese representative coming along. By that, everyone involved can see that Canon truly cares about its CSR campaigns as the representative himself directly participates into these trips with his entourage.

Reproduced from Julie 2010

Nonetheless, it is still a business involved with money. Therefore, the top manager doesn’t simply do CSR for nothing. On one side, CSR is effective in “gaining the positive brand awareness and brand preferences. Stakeholders normally tend to show sympathy and interest towards a brand which delivers benefits to the society”. Moreover, it’s “a way to show their commitment to their audiences and their stakeholders, not just an advertising gesture”, she admitted.

As much as I love to feel the humanity in this busy developing world, I reckoned that it was pretty late. Thereby, I finished up the inspiring conversation with one short but thorough question “What does T&A Ogilvy actually get through many CSR programs that the company has conducted?”. She gave me a saying depicting such a beautiful future scene in which T&A Ogilvy and their clients as well as the society share a harmony where each side gets the best of what they want.

“We must give more in order to get more; it is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.”

Personally speaking, I believe that social responsibilities is an invisible connection that pulls people closer; together we can build a better world for our children. Thereby, it must be considered not only by the business but every single individual; individual’s awareness matters.

(*): All these campaigns were implemented in Vietnam by T&A Ogilvy.

Word count: 1096


Canon 2012, Kyosei: Canon’s Corporate Philosophy, homepage, Canon Inc., viewed 30 August 2012, .

Keinert, C 2008, Corporate Social Responsibility as an International Strategy, Physica-Verlag Heidelberg, Leipzig.

Solomon, R 2008, ‘The art of client service’, Kaplan, New York.

Trang, N 2012, conversation,  28th August

Weltzien Hoivik, H, & Shankar, D 2011, ‘How can SMEs in a Cluster respond to global demands for corporate responsibility?’, Journal of business ethics, vol. 2, no. 101, pp.175-195

Zullo, R 2011, ‘Labor Unions and Charity’, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 64, no. 4, pp. 699-711.

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 ( 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: 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.

 Figure 1

         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: 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: 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,, 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,, viewed in 8 May 2012, <>.

Webmoneymaker 2012, ‘Save and earn money online with credit cards’, image,, viewed in 8 May 2012, <<.

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