Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Apple Inc. Corporate Social Responsibility

Everything from Apple’s manufacturing, transportation, product use, recycling, and facilities focus on reducing their environmental impact. Apple estimated that 97 percent of their carbon emissions comes from manufacturing, transportation, product use and the recycling of products. The remaining 3 percent comes from Apple facilities. In an effort to improve manufacturing, Apple has begun improving its products by developing smaller, thinner and lighter products. “As our products become more powerful, they’re using less material to produce and generating fewer carbon emissions.” (Apple Environment)

Apple Inc. Consumer Relations

Apple provides a variety of means for consumers to communication with the company on a particular question or concern. Apple customers have the opportunity to contact a representative regarding product or technical support through AppleCare’s Support site for quick and answer or feedback, Online Service Assiatnt for repair or service information or through a phone service. To make the phone service more accessible to customers, Apple has separate lines for each of their products. Among its other customer relations tactics, Apple has an Internet service available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. To get face-to-face support, Apple created the Genius Bar in every retail store for technical support or hardware repair.

Apple Inc. Investor Relations

Apple’s website they strategically present their investor relations. The “Stock Info” section provides the public with Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) daily stock numbers including, change, opening price, previous close price, day high and day low, and volume. The page also includes a chart to compare numbers to previous years. The “Earnings Releases” page provides the public with quarterly reports from the 2008 Fiscal Year to present. In their “Financial History” section, Apple provides links to the company’s 10-K filings as well as their quarterly income statements, balance sheet information and cash flow from operations information. Apple’s “Governance” highlights guidelines applicable to the Chief Executive Officer and other senior management. Its governance includes information pertaining to a business conduct policy and political contributions & expenditures. Apple’s most recent Quarter proved to be successful with an 83% revenue growth and 95% profit growth. During its most recent quarter iPhone sales saw a 113% increase. (Apple Reports Q2 2011 Results) The iPhone sales increase is representative of Apple’s termination of AT&T’s exclusivity to sell the smart phone device.

Investor relations with Nordstrom

Within the last fiscal year, Nordstrom is up 22.5 percent. The company has advanced it conglomerate revenue to $180 million this year as it introduced its falsh sales site, HauteLook. Nordstrom's same-store sales and top-line trends were also encouraging--total revenue grew 12 percent (MSNMoney).
During the quarter, Nordstrom's same-store sales jumped 7.8%, driven by the Designer, Jewelry and Men's Apparel categories. Full-line same-store sales growth was driven by strong performances in the Midwest and the South. Same-store sales at Nordstrom Rack increased by 1.2%. The company expects same-store sales to grow in the range of 2% to 4% in fiscal 2011.
Retail selling and expenses increased $78 million to $697 million in the quarter, primarily due to increased operating expenses as well as higher volume of sales and HauteLook operating expenses and purchase accounting charges. Credit selling shrunk 40.2% year over year to $55 million.  The company expects 2011 gross margin to range from down-to-up 10 basis points (MSNMoney). Nordstrom's operating income posted an increase of $53 million year over year to $272 million.
Given the recent success of the company over the recent fiscal year, especially within the last quarter, the Nordstrom website has created a more thorough “Investor FAQ” section of its website. The investor relations on the web entail the directions to contact the larger bodies of corporate governance for stocks (Mergent). Nordstrom has an accessible earnings release calendar so that share/stockholders can see and understand what is going on in the market. As a privately-owned company, Nordstrom has rights to their earnings, but makes sure it is transmittable to its investors.

Nordstrom: CSR efforts and then some

For a privately-owned company, Nordstrom maintains a strong presence in the realm of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by spearheading a CSR mission of Leave It Better Than We Found It. Though private companies often have the reputation of being more fiscally conservative,  Nordstrom has truly extended its CSR program to include many social causes that are pertinent in the global and corporate environment today. Nordstrom’s CSR efforts are two-fold: first, the company is consciously making an effort to contribute what they can to global issues such as environmental and social programs. Secondly, the company is making a strong effort to change its own utilization of natural resources.
It is imperative to understand the plight of Nordstrom and their efforts to improve themselves internally and externally. Most corporations are constantly waging social responsibility wars externally, but I think it is fascinating that Nordstrom is truly making a contribution to fighting environmental waste within its own company. In today’ corporate world, it seems that many companies act as if they are combating global issues; but when the company itself  is evaluated internally, it is often revealed that corporate business practices are not as honest as an audience would want them to be.
In terms of internal CSR efforts, Nordstrom is continually working to reduce excess waste and cost in order to appease its consumers. In the Nordstrom’s 2009 Progress Report, it is stated that organic recycling was increased—the nationwide recycling program allowed for 97 percent of total waste was recycled through fulfillment and distribution centers. The company is also working to guarantee greater energy efficiency and wants to gain a total 18 percent energy reduction by 2015. Nordstrom’s current improvements regarding internal transportation involve the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through carton delivery optimization and reduced air freight (Nordstrom). The company began to see success in 2008 when it improved its total fuel economy by 7.3 percent.
Another way that Nordstrom is advancing its internal CSR efforts is through its in-store restaurants. The retailer offers sustainable and organic choices to its consumers for meals, and is environmentally responsible with its usage of plates, cups and recycling after the guest completes his or her meal. In addition to being environmentally responsible, the company also makes efforts to ensure the protection of human rights across the globe.
Responsible manufacturing is within the Nordstrom Code of Conduct and all private-suppliers are to abide by these guidelines through the Social Responsibility audit process and Nordstrom partnership guidelines. Supplier training is meant to affirm suppliers’ true efficiency, worker retention, productivity and the treatment of manufacturers (Nordstrom).
Nordstrom is known to respond quickly and appropriately to world disaster and tragedy as well. Recently, the company donated over $150,000 to Japan relief efforts. In addition to these CSR efforts, Nordstrom also contributes much of its earnings and mission to those in the community.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

American Express Social Media

American Express uses many social media outlets to connect with members and fans. Since they have too many to mention, I'm only going to discuss a select few. AMEX has a blog called OPEN forum which is an online community designed to help grow members business'. Topics of discussion include: innovation, lifestyle, marketing, technology and money. The articles are useful tools for business leaders.

On March 18th, AMEX integrated a Facebook tab into their AMEX rewards interface and encouraged members to share their most memorable thing they've spent their points on. This, to me, was brilliant!!In my opinion, you have two types of shoppers; you have the practical consumer (one who shops based on needs) and an emotional consumer (one who goes on emotionally driven shopping trips). This afforded consumers the opportunity to share their experiences with other emotionally driven shoppers. It gave them a reason to discuss their connection with the purchased item and as a result purchase more with points so they can further discuss the topic.

Lastly, AMEX had a sweepstake for travelers. The card members had to write about their favorite trip moment, describe the trip, and share images. The winner received $10,000 towards their dream trip. As a result, they had 500 entries and 28,300 likes.

American Express Investor Relations

The total revenue for American Express in Quarter 1 of 2011 was $7 billion, which is up 7% from $6.6 billion last year. This increase reflects higher card member spending and significant investments in business building initiatives.
“Our stepped up investment spending has helped us capitalize on opportunities during the early stages of the economic recovery and strengthen relationships with consumer, small business and corporate customers. By moving aggressively, we have also been able to expand our leadership role in online commerce, introduce the next generation of digital payments and deepen our relationships with merchants internationally” quoted from AMEX April 20th press release.

American Express Philanthropy

American Express is a huge advocate of community involvement. Currently, AMEX has given grants to hundreds of nonprofit companies. They gave $25,000 to A Better Chance of New York, $30,000 to Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, and a very generous donation of $130,000 to Aid to Artisan. By encouraging the employees and the members of the community to engage in supporting these organizations, AMEX also encourages good citizenship. AMEX serves communities in times of emergency relief and natural disasters. Their goal is to provided leaders with practical opportunities to learn and build leadership skills. Their program is to help leaders in diverse communities and designed to target emerging nonprofit leaders in arts, environment, higher education and social service sectors.

Coca-Cola- Philanthropy

Coca-Cola is dedicated to philanthropy through its program entitled The Coca-Cola Foundation, which was founded in 1984. Coca-Cola recognizes that in order for their business to succeed they must commit themselves to improving the quality of life in the communities in which they conduct their business. Coke has four main global pillars in which they feel they can make a difference in including water stewardship, active healthy living, community recycling, and education. Coca-Cola also supports student scholarships and other educational programs and initiatives in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Pacific. They also focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programs in Africa and Latin America. Coca-Cola also has some philanthropic goals that it hopes to see through including investing more than $50 million in research by 2015, innovating with natural sweeteners in order to lower calories per serving, list the calories/kilocalories/kilojoules per serving for their beverage products on the front of nearly all packaging worldwide, and to continue to develop products fortified with additional nutrients to meet global consumer needs. For an example of what they have done recently, in April they launched their 100 percent recyclable plant-based bottles for both Dasani and Odwalla products. These environmentally friendly bottles were the first 100 percent recyclable beverage packages made with plants and were made readily accessible across the US.

Coca-Cola- Customer Service

The 1-800 number that I decided to call for this assignment was Coca Cola since that is the company I chose for the semester and I wanted to get a better feel of how they deal with their consumers and how good or bad their customer service was. I decided to ask a simple question that I knew could be answered on Coca Cola’s main webpage, and reviewed how I was treated and how efficiently my question was answered. I was presently surprised that I was on the phone talking with an actual person within just a few minutes, and they were neither rude nor discouraging when I asked my question. I simply asked where I could find more information about Coca Cola’s products and marketing strategies, and the woman on the phone directed me straight to the Coca Cola website and told me how to navigate the website and find what I was looking for. I also found it a relief that the person on the other side of the phone was warm and inviting and did not seem bothered to answer any of my questions that I may have had. This shows me that Coca Cola is concerned with having good customer service and that they are concerned with how their consumers view them, and want to be portrayed in a good light. 

Coca Cola- Corporate Social Responsibility

Coca-Cola has received many awards for their various Corporate Social Responsibility programs, one of the most prevalent being their contributions to community development in India. Coca-Cola India received a Golden Peacock Global Award for corporate Social Responsibility for replenishing ground water and setting a target to reach a “net zero” balance with respect to groundwater usage in 2009. Coca-Cola also received the India Today Pegasus Corporate Social Responsibility Gold Award 2008 for its partnership with India’s leading nongovernment organization in spreading awareness among school students across India, using the film “Our Environment-Let Us protect it”. They also had a water stewardship strategy, which focused on water conservation, access to clean drinking water, and awareness of water conservation and related issues. Coca-Cola India installed 400 rainwater-harvesting projects across India, constructed several check dams, and rejuvenated ponds and step wells.  They also launched the “Elixir of Life” project to provide portable water to more than 30,000 under-privileged children in and around Chennai. 

Coca Cola-Investor Relations

Coca-Cola’s objective for Investor Relations is to deliver superior investment return to their shareowners through consistent increases in long-term operating cash flows and profitable increases in sales volume. They are committed to innovative and superior marketplace execution, allowing them to successfully capitalize on diverse opportunities in varied markets and channels. They report routinely company activities and performance through news releases, presentations, and conference calls. Coca-Cola believes strongly in keeping their shareholders involved, so through regular meetings and various releases they intend to do just that. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dr Pepper Snapple Consumer Relations

Dr Pepper Snapple has a consumer  relations feedback box in the contact us section of their website. Customers can give feedback or even ask questions about the product. If something is wrong with the product or with the quality, consumers are even allowed to put the specific product number and store in which the product was bought. This service shows that Dr Pepper Snapple cares about each product to track the process of it.

Dr Pepper Snapple also has their own consumer relations sector of the company. They offer the number for the consumer relations office. If people have any type of issue or question about a product or Dr Pepper Snapple, they can simply call this number. The only problem is that this service is not 24 hrs. I called around 8pm and there was an automative machine indicating that the office is not open after 5pm.

The website even offers a store locator to locate any product near you. This service is very helpful especially in finding the rarer products.

Motts /Dr Pepper Snapple Social Media

First of all I chose Motts because who doesn't love applesauce and apple juice. Motts is constantly creating new and fun product for their demographic and they always keep it fun. I also chose Motts because of their Social Responsibility projects. They aren't just giving back to any organization but they give back to the demographic in which they serve which are children. Motts is partnered with Kaboom whose initial goal is to keep PLAY alive. Activity in children is decreasing and Kaboom hosts play days in neighborhoods around the country as well as builds play grounds. I think Motts picked a good program to partner up with.

Also Motts utilizes social media widely. T hey have a facebook, twitter, and their own blog. Motts uses their twitter and facebook more for revealing products and interaction between consumers and themselves. Their main audience for social media are parents. Mostly mommy bloggers are commenting on these sites and we all know how influential those mommy bloggers are. Motts uses their blog to get information that may be beneficial to the parents and not just for marketing or selling purposes. They have useful information as far as child health and even fun ways for chirldren to get their nutrients.

CHase Customer Service Call

I needed information regarding my account and decided to call the customer service number on the back of my card for information. The first thing I was greeted with was a automated machine that only offered options to check my account or report fraud. However I needed information regarding a wrong purchase on my card.

After waiting and listening to all the options, the message did not at any time tell me how I could speak with a representative. I eventually tried to press zero but the message keep telling me wrong option and eventually hung up on me. At first I thought we were disconnected but the message clearly said that the option I am trying to reach is nonexsistent and I should try again later. Eventually I tried again and was connected with someone after about 10 minutes.

Regardless the situation with any customer service line, there should always be an option to speak with someone. If the line cannot offer information that the customer needs there should be someone that can at least refer the customer to the correct person.

Dr Pepper Snapple Investor Relations

Dr Pepper Snapple dedicates a whole section of their page to their investors. On the site map, the investor relations section includes the company’s annual report, financial press releases, stock information, SEC filings, email alerts. Dr Pepper Snapple conveys information to investors clearly and intricately. For example the annual reports not only show the reports for the year but plan for growth over time. 
The email alerts in the investor relations section is also very helpful. Investors can check off the type of information they would like to know from press releases to webcasts and events and email alerts will be sent whenever they occur. Dr Pepper Snapple made this section simple and accessible for the people that invest in the company. 

Dr Pepper Snapple Philanthropy

Dr Pepper Snapple contributes a total of 100,000 volunteer hours and over $10 milion in charitable cash donations. Dr Pepper Snapple focuses their philanthropy of Fit and Active lifestyles, Environmental Initiatives, Emergency Relief, and Community Celebrations. This company has sites all over the world and all employees play a part in its philanthropy. Due to the fact that they are located all over the world, their influence is worldwide.

Dr. Pepper Snapple has intricately planned actions to improve each sector of their focus. One focus is direct store shipment. Another is the use of less calories and labelling all their beverages. Dr Pepper Snapple also plans out all their colunteer work to create the most efficient help available. They take the time to plan out guidelines and goals to give to each manager to implicate. Lastly they give healthy donations to emergency relief funds such as United Way and the Boys and Girls Club.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Newman's Own and Social Media

On February 16, 2011 in support of social enterprise education and the next generation of business leaders, will serve as the returning title sponsor of the 12th annual Social Enterprise Conference (SECON) at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. The conference runs from Saturday, March 5 to Sunday, March 6, 2011 and this year’s theme is “Sustaining Impact, Living Change.” It is one of the world’s largest student-run conferences and was recognized in 2009 by Forbes.com as “one of the most influential and exclusive gatherings for executives.” 2011 marks the third year of participation at the conference for Newman’s Own and reinforces the company’s commitment to making a positive impact on the next generation of business leaders.

Google's Investor Relations

Google's investor relations page has their first quarter 2011 results and this quote from their CFO should say it all “We had a great quarter with 27% year-over-year revenue growth,” said Patrick Pichette, CFO of Google. “These results demonstrate the value of search and search ads to our users and customers, as well as the extraordinary potential of areas like display and mobile. It's clear that our past investments have been crucial to our success today--which is why we continue to invest for the long term.” Google's investor relations page has every piece of information you could possibly ever ask for, it has information from the cost of one click down to their Cash Flow and Capital Expenditures and Income tax information. Their site is extremely organized and easy to follow, and to find important information. Google reported revenues of $8.58 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Target's Involvement with Sports

Target, based in Minneapolis, MN, heavily focuses its sports sponsorship and promotions with the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Timberwolves. The company paid rights to have it name on the "Target Center" and "Target Field," but is also active in their Minnesota communities with the teams.

It is a wise strategy because their headquarters are in Minneapolis; their employees can be more involved in CSR projects with the teams and they will get more recognition in Minnesota communities.

Target Corporate Social Responsibility

Target does a lot in terms of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. Target's main focus is education, focus on the arts, and maintaining a healthy and green environment. Target has worked on renovating and building schools in areas that are in a crisis, sponsoring and giving children opportunities to explore their artistic abilities, and create "green" environments with recycling and planting projects.

This makes sense in giving back to the community because the company targets families and community members to come into their stores for every day products.

ABC Consumer Relations

ABC Provides a Contact form on their website where consumers can fill out a form with personal information, and type their questions or comments in the form. ABC also provides a frequently asked question page for consumers to find quick answers to the most common questions. The company does not provide a phone number on the “Contact Us” form, but the Audience Relations Department phone number is available on the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Both the Contact Us and FAQ page carry the disclaimer that “we just can’t individually respond to every audience inquiry. We do, however, value your comments and suggestions.” I believe the Contact Us form is very impersonal, and the telephone number should be on that page so consumers can dial in to ask specific questions. Also, the disclaimer could turn consumers away from asking important questions or giving meaningful suggestions. There is a lot of room for improvement within ABC’s consumer relations.

ABC Philanthropy

The Walt Disney Company and its affiliate companies, such as ABC, dedicate themselves to being a positive member of the community. The companies put their philanthropic efforts towards charities involved with children and families. In 2010, ABC donated $198 million dollars in cash to various charities around the world focusing on “making wishes come true for children”.
The Walt Disney Company also calls upon its employees to become contributing members of society through their VoluntEARS program; a program designed to provide volunteer service across the globe. Since the program began 26 years ago, VoluntEARS have contributed over 5,000,000 hours of service in over 42 countries.
Specific contributions are available in The Walt Disney Company’s Corporate Citizenship Report.

MillerCoors Social Media

The MillerCoors corporation itself, is not active in social media at all. However, as with its investor relations, its two secondary companies of SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company are highly active in social media. Both companies have Facebook pages, as well as Twitter accounts that they actively use. In addition to this the two companies have blogs on their websites that they actively post to. SABMiller and Molson Coors also have Youtube channels where they upload videos relating to the business side of their companies.

ABC Investor Relations

ABC Is owned by The Walt Disney Company. Disney provides a Quarterly publication for investors that describes all business expenditures, new releases and profits for each affiliated company. On the Disney Website, Investors can view the newsletter, fact books, stock information, financial information and more. The website is also updated frequently with press releases and has an up-to-date stock price monitor.
In the Investor Relations Newsletter there are sections for Company Announcements, Corporate Citizenship and Financial information. The Newsletter sums up each affiliate company and provides their financial information.
The Investor Relations page of the Walt Disney Company website also provides a direct link for investors to view their shareholder account.

MillerCoors Investor Relations

When consumers look for investor relations on the MillerCoors website, there is very little information. There is a page for financial information that just details the financial reporting schedule for when they release the quarterly earnings. However, it does have a small section labeled investor relations and directs consumers interested in this to the two subsidiary brands that comprise the MillerCoors company which are SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company. SABMiller is traded on the London Stock Exchange as well as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Molson Coors Brewing Company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange. Each respective website has detailed information regarding all the financial news surrounding it such as current share price, upcoming financial events, as well webcasts that investors are able to listen to. 

MillerCoors Philanthropy

The MillerCoors corporation's website has links that provides consumers with detailed information about the philanthropy that the company engages in. According to MillerCoors, their employee volunteers have logged more than 60,000 hours of community service every year. In addition to this, they run the Miller Lite Ride for the Arts which is an annual event that has raised more than $6 million for the United Performing Arts Fund and its 36 beneficiary groups. MillerCoors has also partnered with Project C.U.R.E. to help pack and send medical supplies to developing countries in need of them. 

MillerCoors Consumer Relations

Since the MillerCoors brewing company is huge company that has multiple brands under the umbrella of its grasp, it has to deal with a very large number of consumers from different demographics, as well as different parts of the world. When you go to their website, their contact page is at the top and provides consumers with a variety of different ways to get in touch with the company. Consumers can either use the frequently asked question prompts to get the information they desire, email the company through the email form, or call the company directly. In addition to this, there are direct links to their social responsibility, environmental sustainability, as well as what consumers can do. The ease of accessing this information is paramount in being as transparent and open with consumers as possible.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

NBC Consumer Relations

Since NBC Universal is owned by GE and Comcast it has to deal with alot of different consumers. Also, NBC owns several other large networks, channels and websites that all appeal to different demographics. There is no information on the NBC Universal website that speaks of consumer relations.

At my internship at Oxygen, I asked my boss about consumer relations based on her experience of being a page for NBC for the past year. She said that when consumers call the number to get on NBC studio tours and to get tickets to SNL, Jimmy Fallon, etc, it will first bring the customer to a simple introduction. When you press a number, it will give you all the information that you need to know. Then if you still want to speak with a representative, you are transferred right away. I called the NBC studio tours calling center. The automated messaging system was easy to follow and I was directed to a friendly NBC employee who set me up a tour quickly. I was pleased with the performance of that division of NBC consumer relations.

NBC Investor Relations

Since, NBC Universal is now owned by not only GE but also Comcast, on the NBC website it now directs users to go to the Comcast Investor relations site in order to get the information. NBC is a publicly traded company.

According to the comcast investor relations site, "Comcast was first incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania in 1969. Comcast's Initial Public Offering (IPO) was on June 29, 1972. On that date 430,000 shares of CMCSA were issued at $7 per share. On November 18, 2002, Comcast and AT&T Broadband combined to form the new Comcast Corporation."

NBC Philantrophy

For philanthropy, NBC Universal gives back to the community. They donate to most of the major disaster relief funds, to charity's to benefit the public, NBC employees volunteer at events and also donate their time for walk and other types of events. NBC gives back to the public and people in need.

NBC Universal created an initiative called Green is Universal that focuses on being environmental perspective to everything they do, informing and entertaining their audiences and giving more sustainable practices into their own operations, according to their website. NBC Universal also focuses on programming that deals with Green and Earth weeks and making their television and film sets out of environmental friendly materials. NBC Employees are also impacted through Green is Universal because at all NBC facilities they use sustainable materials and resources in construction and daily operations. NBC Universal has focused on the environment and is associated as being a company that is environmental friendly.