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For Immediate Release:
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Gretchen Johnson

Office of Public Relations
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Restoring Corporate Trust

Public Relations Leaders Encourage Corporate America to Adopt New Actions to Restore Corporate Trust

MADISON, N.J.--Jan. 15, 2003

19 Professional Organizations Develop Strategies Designed to Address the U.S.'s Crisis of Trust

The leaders of public relations and related professions have challenged Corporate America to take more formal and highly structured approaches to regenerate trust on the part of their key constituencies. They called on corporate leaders of the United States to:

- Articulate a set of ethical principles that are closely connected to their core business processes and supported with deep management commitment and enterprise-wide discipline. These principals should balance the interests of all stakeholders, ensure investors receive full and timely information about the company, and compensate all employees in accord with their contributions to the company's success.

- Create a process for transparency and disclosure that is appropriate for their company and industry in both current and future operations. It should include a senior oversight committee, "culture" audits and consistent messaging.

- Make trust and ethics a Board-level corporate governance issue and establish a formal system of measuring trust that touches all parts of their organizations.

These were the conclusions from the Public Relation Coalition's two-day summit meeting, "Trust: Models for Action." The Public Relations Coalition is composed of 19 foremost organizations for professionals in corporate public relations, investor relations, public affairs and related communications. The purpose of the summit was to collect the views of the participants and turn them into action models for restoring trust in business.

"These are three high-level concepts that the Coalition believes could have material impact on the challenge of restoring trust in the corporate leadership of the United States," stated James E. Murphy, Global Managing Director of Marketing and Communications for Accenture and chairman of the Coalition and the summit meeting.

"The core of the recommendation is to ask corporate leaders to create or reinforce an 'environment of accountability' in their organizations. Without a visible, concrete and measurable commitment, society will continue to mistrust our corporate leadership.

"It is important to take these initiatives and disseminate them to corporate leaders throughout America within our respective U.S. members, to our clients and ultimately, to the American public at large," he said. "As significant as today's discussions were, it won't mean much unless this dialogue continues in boardrooms across America. Corporate leaders are receiving a lot of advice today from many sources. This thinking is coming from the most senior professionals in our country and those from around the globe who are working at the core of these issues. I am confident these recommendations have the power to have significant impact."

The summit meeting on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University drew more than 50 senior professionals who are officers from each participating organization. They collectively represented more than 50,000 practitioners in the fields of public relations, corporate and organizational communications, investor relations and public affairs. Several participating organizations brought their global perspectives to bear on these discussions which focused on the current U.S. corporate environment.

"Members of the participating organizations are dealing with these issues on a daily basis, providing strategic counsel to managements and boards," Murphy added. "We believe that the action steps created today can help businesses deal with the distrust among key stakeholders."

The Public Relations Coalition will also publish a position paper that will expand on the collective views expressed today. The Coalition is an informal group composed of leaders of public relations and related organizations who meet periodically to discuss common interests. It has been active since early 1999. Today's meeting was the first with extensive representation and a single focus.

Coalition member organizations participating in the summit included:

Arthur W. Page Society

Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College

Corporate Communication Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University

Council of Communication Management

Council of Public Relations Firms

Global Public Affairs Institute

Institute for Public Relations

IPR's Commission on Measurement & Evaluation

International Association of Business Communicators

IABC Research Foundation

International Public Relations Association

National Investor Relations Institute

National School Public Relations Association

Public Affairs Council

Public Relations Society of America

PRSA Counselors Academy

PRSA Foundation

Women Executives in Public Relations

Foundation of WEPR

CONTACT: Michael B. Goodman, Director, Corporate Communication Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University, cci@corporatecomm.org or 973 443 8709.

Copyright © 2001, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved.
This release authored with FDU Pagetoaster.