CITIZEN ACTIVISM AND NGO’S INFLUENCE ON ORGANIZATIONAL REPUTATION Arthur W. Page Society Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications Introduction The Calgary Stampede attracts more than one million visitors. More than 7,500 animals participate in Stampede events. Every year animal-welfare advocates pressure the Stampede to stop “cruel events.” Big cash prizes offered put pressure on competitors to win. Animal-welfare activists were more vocal than ever in 2010. This case reflects on: Citizen activism and NGO’s influence on organizational reputation. The importance of managing an organization’s reputation. The importance of building goodwill and becoming more resilient. Calgary Stampede Stampede Overview and History Stampede Events Source: YouTube Animal-welfare Advocates Western Canadian (Alberta and British Columbia) animal-welfare groups that either worked with or protested the Calgary Stampede in 2010: Calgary Humane Society Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Alberta SPCA) Calgary Animal Rights Effort Vancouver Humane Society People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Calgary Stampede and Animal Care The Stampede takes “care of the animals very seriously” and “welcomes the input of all organizations and experts who share their passion for animals.” The Stampede has established a collaborative working relationship with the CHS and the Alberta SPCA. In June 2010, the Stampede assembled a group of leading experts to advise them on continuous improvement. A rule change for steer-wrestling was also announced. Three Shots Across the Bow Shot One – Debunking the myth June 21, 2010 – VHS, published an op-ed in the Calgary Herald calling the “Stampede rodeo a stale myth” and pointing out the fact that the Stampede is a “piece of American mythology parading as Canadian culture.” Three Shots Across the Bow Shot Two – Buck the Rodeo PETA turned the attention of its “Buck the Rodeo” campaign on the Stampede The campaign pressured Stampede sponsors to disassociate themselves with this event. Source: PETA Three Shots Across the Bow Shot Two – Buck the Rodeo The Vancouver Humane Society joined p the campaign and decreed that “Rodeo is cruel: Tell Bell!” The Calgary Animal Rights Meetup Group took PETA’s message to the streets of Calgary. Source: Calgary Animal Rights Meetup Group Three Shots Across the Bow Shot Three – “That’s Entertainment?” The Vancouver Humane Society placed the first antirodeo ad to run in the Calgary Herald. The Calgary Humane Society, PETA and the Vancouver Humane Society called for officials to ban the “violent” calf-roping event. Source: Vancouver Humane Society Horse Deaths Chronology Friday, July 9, 2010 Sunday, July 11, 2010 A chuckwagon horse suffered a suspected heart attack and died. A third horse broke its back during a bucking event. A fourth horse suffered a shoulder injury during a chuckwagon race and was euthanized. Wednesday, July 14, 2010 A horse suffers a suspected heart attack in the team cattle penning competition. Monday, July 12, 2010 And we’re off! A horse died following a chuckwagon race. Thursday, July 15, 2010 A horse died after the chuckwagon races. Social and Traditional Media Outrage Tuesday, July 13, 2010 “Horses are being put under unnecessary stress.” Wednesday, July 14, 2010 “Renewed calls to stop the use of animals for entertainment.” “The rash of deaths has altered public attitudes.” “50 percent want to keep the rodeo while the other half want to see the events shut down.” Social and Traditional Media Outrage Thursday, July 15, 2010 “Please take action.” “Horses on race tracks around the work have injuries.. and have sudden deaths..” Friday, July 16, 2010 “Rodeos are demeaning to us all.” “We love animals and rodeo.” Source: Calgary Herald Social and Traditional Media Outrage Saturday, July 17, 2010 “Six dead horses so far for entertainment.” Sunday, July 18, 2010 Call for an immediate halt to the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races. Source: YouTube Curtain Draws on another Stampede Reported to be one of the worst on record in terms of animal deaths and human injuries. Animal death toll “depressingly predictable.” The weather wreaked havoc on the 10-day event. A midway accident injured 10 people and sent six to the hospital. Attendance was down 41,242 turnstiles compared to 2009. Media requests were denied the final day of the Stampede. Reputational Impact Online/social media 1) July 9-19, 2010, 2) July 3-13, 2009. Traditional media 1) July 9-19, 2010, 2) July 3-13, 2009. Source: Sysomos Map Three Relevant Concepts 1. Citizen activism and NGO’s influence on organizational reputation. NGO’s and citizen activist groups serve an important role in society. Act as change catalysts. Can influence opinions (negative or positive) through social and traditional media, and other means. Three Relevant Concepts 2. The importance of managing an organization’s reputation. A good reputation is an intangible asset that is built over many years and can be lost overnight. Reputations are valued and have value. Reputation can be managed. Reputation and financial performance are linked. Being considered a great place to work enhances staff and volunteer recruitment and retention. A good reputation provides a second chance during a crisis – good will. Three Relevant Concepts 3. The importance of being resilient. The best way to minimize reputation risk is to have a sufficient “resiliency” before problems occur. Reputation (good, neutral or poor) continues to build overtime. Companies with good reputations over time amass resiliency to manage short-term reputation issues better than those with neutral or poor reputations. Negative publicity is more impactful than positive publicity, but companies with good reputations are impacted to a lesser extent. Source: Ipsos-Public Affairs, 2004 Testing the Mood Who believes animals should be used for entertainment purposes? Are farm animals used in rodeo events treated as cruelly as animal-welfare activists’ claim? Should farm animals used in rodeo events be the subject of moral consideration? Are animal rights important? Do animals have a sense of self similar to humans? Testing the Mood Is it enough for the Stampede to work only with the Calgary Humane Society and Alberta SPCA in developing its animal care policies? Are the demands of the animal-welfare activists in this case fair and realistic? What are the implications of PETA’s “Buck the Rodeo” campaign tactics? Breakout Groups Group A: Group B: Discuss how the Calgary Stampede responded to the outrage using both the principles of reputation management and Arthur W. Page. Using both the principles of reputation management and Arthur W. Page review the Calgary Stampede’s current attendance and reputational challenges as presented in the case study. Prepare a brief 10-15 minute presentation outlining alternate approaches the Calgary Stampede could have taken to mitigate the effects of the outrage and protect its reputation. Discussion Questions Group A – Calgary Stampede Response What could the Calgary Stampede have done to reduce the negative impact of the six dead horses? If you were in charge of the Calgary Stampede’s public relations function, how would you have handled the request for interview at the end of the 10-day event? What other approaches could the Calgary Stampede have taken in handling this issue? How could the Calgary Stampede have better communicated its commitment to animal care? Group B – Attendance and Reputational Challenges How would you evaluate and prioritize the risks to the Calgary Stampede’s reputation in the wake of the six dead horses and midway accident? What opportunities exist for the Calgary Stampede to improve its reputation? What would the benefits be to the Stampede of building goodwill with its stakeholders throughout the year and becoming more resilient? What strategies would you recommend the Calgary Stampede implement to rebuild its positive reputation? How should the Calgary Stampede address its relationships with the broader animal-welfare community? Presentation Response Discuss the concepts presented from the perspective of the following stakeholders: o o o o o o Sponsors and potential sponsors Rodeo participants (professional cowboys) Animal-welfare advocates Traditional and social media influencers Visitors to the Stampede (local, national and international) General public (Calgarians) Page Principles and the Calgary Stampede 1. 2. 3. Tell the truth. Be transparent and forthcoming about each and every animal death related to Stampede activities. Prove it with action. Show empathy and concern. Follow-up on all of the Calgary Humane Society, Alberta SPCA and Animal Care Advisory group’s recommendations and report changes made. Listen to the customer. Improve two-way communication with the following “consumer” groups: traditional and social media influencers, animal-welfare advocates, visitors to the Stampede and the general public. Page Principles and the Calgary Stampede 4. 5. Manage for tomorrow. Actively manage its reputation. Gain a better understanding of the ongoing changes in society and its expectations of an organization, and the influence of citizen activism through social media. Conduct public relations as if the whole company depended on it. Public relations, community relations, stakeholder engagement, communications and risk management should be high priorities as part of the overall reputation management strategy. Page Principles and the Calgary Stampede 6. 7. A company’s true character is expressed by its people. Establish a reputation management strategy that engages key stakeholders and emphasizes empathy, transparency and accountability in issues and crisis management. Remain calm, patient and good humored. Focus on rebuilding its reputation for the future. Present a consistent, credible spokesperson that resonates with all audiences who is always available, always forthcoming and never defensive. Reputation Management Principles Fombrum and Van Riel’s (2004) five principles 1. 2. Visibility: “The more familiar you are to the public, the better the public rates you” (p. 104). Authenticity: “To earn the benefit of the doubt, organizations have to convey absolute honesty in all their interactions with stakeholders – otherwise, any discredit by one stakeholder will instantly be communicated to all of them, reducing the degree of support they feel for the organization” (p. 163). Reputation Management Principles Fombrum and Van Riel’s (2004) five principles 3. 4. 5. Consistency: “An organization’s reputation platform has to be consistently enacted across all stakeholder groups and through all of the organization’s communications and initiatives” (p. 218). Distinctiveness: “Distinctiveness builds strength of association and comes from a success at building a reputation platform (its customized slogans, unique trademarks and logos, and personalized corporate stories) that is strategically aligned and emotionally appealing” (p. 157). Transparency: “Research has shown that the more transparent an organization is, the more likely stakeholders are to rely on their disclosures and to have faith in the organization’s prospects” (p. 186). Reputation Management Principles Dowling’s (2001) concepts of identity, image and performance Identity: “The symbols and nomenclature an organization uses to identify itself to people (such as the corporate name, logo, advertising slogan, livery, etc.)” (p. 19). Image: “Images of things (countries, industries, companies, and brands) reside in the heads of people – they are not fixed attributes of an organization” (p. 18). “Developing an organization’s desired image into a strategic asset starts on the inside of the organization. When an organization builds its desired image from the inside out, that is, on its values, policies, capabilities, commitments and stakeholders, and culture, it has an opportunity to present itself as authentic, concerned, unique, reliable, honest, and trustworthy” (pp. 60-61). Dowling also refers to this as “behavior before branding” (p. 61). Reputation Management Principles Dowling’s (2001) concepts of identity, image and performance Reputation: “The attributed values (such as authenticity, honesty, responsibility, and integrity) evoked from the person’s corporate image” (p. 19). Super-brand: “The trust, confidence, and support that flow from the person’s corporate reputation” (p. 19). “Good super-brands are strategic assets that allow organizations to grow and enter new markets” (p. 61). Performance: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. If it’s difficult to pin down the quality of the reputations people hold of your company, then it becomes doubly difficult to manage this strategic asset” (p.11). Escalation – Part B National and international voices weigh-in “Baywatch” star accused the Stampede of animal cruelty. PETA and other animal-rights advocates compare the Stampede to the seal hunt. The Humane Society of Canada speaks out. League Against Cruel Sports garnered support of more than 50 British MPs in calling for the Canadian government to end cruelty to animals. Escalation – Part B National and international voices weigh-in League Against Cruel Sports urged supporters to write the Canadian High Commission to voice opposition. League asked British travel agencies to stop offering vacation packages to the Stampede. International SPCA’s oppose rodeo. “British support is a first step toward internationalizing opposition to rodeos in Canada.” Escalation – Part B National and international voices weigh-in League’s campaign challenge by Calgary Humane Society relationship. “Quit their complicity in this animal abuse.” Escalation – Pat B Discussion Questions Would you advise incoming Stampede President Michael Casey to begin planning for the potential of a Stampede without the three events or the entire rodeo itself? What, if anything, can the Stampede do to stave off the pressure from these activist groups? What should the Stampede do to manage its relationships with the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta SPCA amid this growing pressure? Escalation – Part B Applying the Page Principles 4. Manage for tomorrow. Reputation management must be conducted with a long-term view. Gain a better understanding of the ongoing changes in society and its expectations of an organization, and the influence of citizen activism through social media. Conduct long-range scenario planning. Manage relationships with the Calgary Humane Society and Alberta SPCA to ensure positive, longterm working relationships with both organizations. Escalation – Part C Carbon Drilling Animal Abusers International attack on Alberta’s tourism industry. League Against Cruel Sports: “Boycott the Calgary Stampede.” Corporate Ethics International “Rethink Alberta” campaign launched half-way through the Stampede “Alberta: the Other Oil Disaster.” “Rethink planning a trip to Alberta.” Escalation – Part C Carbon Drilling Animal Abusers International attack on Alberta’s tourism industry. Corporate Ethics International launched “Rethink Alberta” campaign half-way through the Stampede “Alberta: the Other Oil Disaster.” “Rethink planning a trip to Alberta.” Escalation – Part C Discussion Questions As the focal point of one of two international campaigns adversely affecting Alberta’s tourism industry, how would you advise incoming Stampede President Michael Casey to respond? What would you do to manage key relationships with Tourism Calgary, the City of Calgary, Travel Alberta, and the Province of Alberta? How would you respond to pressure to fight back? Escalation – Part C Applying the Page Principles 5. Conduct public relations as if the whole company depended on it. Public relations, community relations, stakeholder engagement, communications and risk management should be high priorities as part of the overall reputation management strategy. Manage its relationships with the Province of Alberta, Travel Alberta, the City of Calgary, and Tourism Calgary are paramount to the Calgary Stampede’s ongoing success. Escalation – Part C Applying the Page Principles 7. Remain calm, patient and good humored. Focus on rebuilding its reputation for the future. Present a consistent, credible spokesperson that resonates with all audiences who is always available, always forthcoming and never defensive. Managing relationships with sponsors, staff, volunteers, competitors, Province of Alberta, Travel Alberta, the City of Calgary, and Tourism Calgary is paramount to the Calgary Stampede’s ongoing success.