Issues in Public Relations – Working with NGOs

Posted on March 30, 2010

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NGO helping to shine a better light on the often controversial sports giant, Nike.

“Investors, customers and other stakeholders want companies to address social and environmental concerns. Organizations are beginning to recognize that they should develop strategies to meet these needs while remaining profitable. At the same time, many of the most effective non-governmental organizations (NGOs) recognize that they can achieve widespread and lasting change by harnessing the power of the market. To achieve these goals, companies and NGOs are finding ways to work together”. – Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) and Environmental Defense Fund.

In the past, Nike has been heavily criticized over their labour practices and has at times appeared totally unconcerned about acting in a socially responsible manner. In 1996, CEO Phil Knight famously told Michael Moore during an interview for the film The Big One, that if he (Moore) was willing to invest in and build a factory in the U.S. that could match the price of footwear made overseas, Nike would consider buying shoes from him.

However, more recently they have taken steps to improve their image by getting involved in different CSR activities, which will act as a very effective means of creating positive PR. Last year they launched (Nike) Red, in which they designed among other things, red laces, worn by many of their high profile sponsors, carrying the message ‘Lace Up. Save Lives’.  The campaign was set up to fight AIDS in Africa, with 100% of the profits going to the Global Fund and to Nike football-based programs. Leo Sandino-Taylor, Nike UK Head of PR & Communications said, “With the continued support of our athletes and clubs, we can play a major role in amplifying this important issue”.

Without question activities such as this has helped Nike (the business not the brand) to regain some of the credibility and trust which it has lost during the mid-nineties, whilst at the same time making a real difference to those in need.

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Posted in: Public Relations