On Disasters, Public Trusts Companies More Than Government
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On Disasters, Public Trusts Companies More Than Government

In the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and criticism of the response of the federal government, Americans say that they have more trust in companies to respond to disasters.

Paul Holmes

In the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and criticism of the response of the federal government, Americans say that they have more trust in companies to respond to disasters. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) agreed that companies are better able to effectively respond to disaster than government agencies.

A new nationwide poll commissioned by Boston public relations firm Cone shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans (87 percent) expect companies to play an important and long-term role in helping affected regions rebuild Moreover, more than half of Americans (53 percent) believe companies should support relief and reconstruction efforts until all affected areas are thriving once again.

“These results appear to raise the stakes for businesses,” noted Carol Cone, Chairman and founder of Cone. “The public has increasing expectations of companies to play an active role not just by making an initial cash or product donation, but by being part of long-term recovery efforts.” 

The 2005 Cone Disaster Response Survey provides insights into what role and approach Americans want companies to take in near-term and long-term hurricane relief and reconstruction efforts.  More than half of Americans suggest that companies give cash in the short term and then apply business resources to support long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.

More than half of respondents (57 percent) say companies should give cash in the short term and then apply business resources to support long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts; 27 percent say companies should wait until real needs are identified and then apply business resources to support long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts; 13 percent say companies should give cash to meet immediate needs; and 4 percent don’t know what companies should do.

As for the long-term, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, more Americans are identifying the issues of poverty, housing and youth as causes companies should support than before the disaster. While leading issues remain education, health and the environment, there has been a spike in concern for poverty, housing and youth. 

Cone vice president Alison DaSilva, who advises businesses on cause-related programs, says: “Companies considering where to focus long-term aid should take these new shifts into consideration when deciding where to focus resources.”

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