Is the Media Coverage Enough?

January 21, 2010

The corporate citizenship response to the crisis is Haiti has been swift. With today’s 6.0 aftershock, continued humanitarian needs, and a constantly-unfolding situation, we think corporate pledges will continue to be announced throughout the month.

Business aid right now sits just above $83 million in pledged cash, in-kind donations, and matching programs for employee and customer giving. This comprises 203 individual companies, 36 of which committed $1 million or more (see list at bottom of post).

Not many people would disagree that this mobilization of aid is generous, not to mention much-needed.

But one journalist for the Business and Media Institute argues that mainstream media coverage of business support has been anything but generous. In the words of Julia A. Seymour:

“Americans are generous people, and they prove it every time a disaster strikes like last week’s earthquake in Haiti. They have donated more than $275 million to relief efforts in the Caribbean nation in the week since the quake. “Nearly one-third of that money came from U.S. companies, a point rarely mentioned on the broadcast news.  …

“CNN did more to highlight corporate charity in one Jan. 14 segment that the all three networks put together. Stephanie Elam’s report that morning was 3 minutes 15 seconds long and focused entirely on the dozens of companies giving hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Ms. Seymour also made sure to mention celebrity involvement:

“Plenty of celebrities have gotten involved in raising money for Haiti, but it was left-wing actress Alyssa Milano who dared corporations to match her gift. Milano tweeted about her $50,000 donation to UNICEF and asked “Which corporation will match my donation?” Hahn Nguyen writing for Zap2It.com, a celebrity blog, absurdly reported on Jan. 18 that “five days has passed, yet no one has picked up the gauntlet.”

“In fact, based on a detailed list from the BCLC (an arm of the Chamber of Commerce) 121 companies were likely too busy responding to the disaster to follow the actress on Twitter. They donated goods or services worth $50,000 or more to the Haitian disaster (although not specifically through UNICEF).

You can read Seymour’s full article here.

Donor companies tell us all the time that crisis response is not about publicity, but about doing the right thing and playing a role in the solution. Still, should the corporate response get more media coverage than it has? Tell us what you think.

Donors

The full list of donors is available on BCLC’s website. 36 corporate donors pledged $1 million or more in cash or a mix of cash and in-kind support. Jefferies Group, Inc ($6.5 million)

  • Digicel ($5 million)
  • Carnival Corporations & plc ($5 million)
  • Deutsche Bank AG ($4 million)
  • Abbott ($2.5 million)
  • General Electric Company ($2.5 million)
  • Amgen Inc. ($2 million)
  • Citigroup Inc. ($2 million)
  • GlaxoSmithKline ($1.8 million)
  • Crédit Agricole S.A. ($1.45 million)
  • Microsoft ($1.25 million)
  • Sutter Health ($1.25 million)
  • Becton, Dickinson and Company ($1.2 million)
  • GlaxoSmithKline ($1.2 million)
  • Alcon, Inc. ($1 million)
  • Avon ($1 million)
  • Bank of America ($1 million)
  • Baxter International Inc. ($1 million)
  • The Coca-Cola Company ($1 million)
  • Comcast ($1 million)
  • ConocoPhillips ($1 million)
  • Credit Suisse ($1 million)
  • FedEx Corporation ($1 million)
  • Goldman Sachs ($1 million)
  • Google Inc. ($1 million)
  • Henry Schein, Inc. ($1 million)
  • Hess Corporation ($1 million)
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. ($1 million)
  • Lowe’s Companies, Inc. ($1 million)
  • Major League Baseball ($1 million)
  • Morgan Stanley ($1 million)
  • Nestle Waters North America ($1 million)
  • PepsiCo Foundation ($1 million)
  • Royal Carribean ($1 million)
  • Starbucks ($1 million)
  • UPS ($1 million)