BOSTON, Aug. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As communities around the world continue to recover from natural disasters on epic scales, citizens look to companies – not just governments or aid organizations – to provide critical relief assistance. According to the 2013 Cone Communications Disaster Relief Trend Tracker, nearly nine-in-10 (87%) global consumers believe companies must play a role in natural disaster response – in part because the majority (69%) thinks corporations are better able to effectively respond.
Providing Aid Beyond the Check
Surveying more than 10,000 citizens in 10 countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, India and Japan, the 2013 Cone Communications Disaster Relief Trend Tracker reveals a near-universal demand for meaningful corporate aid beyond providing funds:
- 89% of global citizens think companies should leverage their unique assets to lend support to affected communities (such as mobile response units, in-kind donations and employee volunteers)
- 87% wants companies to play a long-term role in relief efforts, not just immediate recovery
"It can't be a case of 'if' companies contribute to natural disaster recovery efforts; it must be a question of 'how,'" says Craig Bida, executive vice president – Social Impact, Cone Communications. "Regardless of geography, citizens are looking to companies – even more so than government agencies – to create and implement real, on-the-ground solutions to acute and urgent needs. Consumers in communities have been burned by slow reaction times or inadequate resources in past relief efforts. What our research has documented is a citizen call for help that corporations simply cannot ignore."
Consumers Ready to Lend Hands and Hearts
Consumers stand ready to work alongside companies toward relief efforts and will reward those caring companies with a strong brand halo. More than half (54%) of global citizens say they have already joined corporate disaster relief efforts, while nine-in-10 global citizens have a more favorable impression of a company after learning that it supports disaster recovery.
Corporate participation in disaster relief efforts is particularly critical in China, one of the most disaster-plagued areas in the world. Citizens here express a near-unanimous desire for company involvement in relief efforts (96% vs. 87% global average). They are also exceptionally primed for participation efforts, with more than three-quarters reporting they have already contributed to corporate disaster relief activities (78% vs. 54% global average).
Similarly, citizens in both India and Japan are still recovering from recent natural disasters, such as flooding in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand and the massive Fukushima earthquake in Japan. Citizens in these countries were significantly more likely to perceive companies as better equipped than government to respond to disasters (85% and 80%, respectively, vs. 69% global average).
"As natural disasters seem to increase in intensity and frequency, company involvement in relief and recovery becomes even more crucial," Bida says. "But companies must think strategically about how to leverage their resources for the greatest impact through taking stock of resources and vetting potential partners. When lives are at stake, every dollar counts."
As companies work to develop both immediate and long-term relief programs, Cone Communications offers the following five tips to best support efforts:
- Look beyond the check: Although cash donations can give disaster nonprofits a much needed monetary injection to meet urgent needs, the most effective relief efforts don't always come in the form of dollar contributions. Companies that leverage unique assets – such as products, technology or networks – can often make significant impact when it comes to recovery and restoration efforts. Companies can also work to secure an enduring NGO partnership to ensure relief supplies can be quickly delivered across the globe.
- Do your due diligence: In the age of crowdsourced donations and online giving, it's even more vital to choose nonprofit partners wisely. When initially selecting a partner, make sure the nonprofit can also make a long-term commitment to relief and rebuilding efforts and that the organization is prepared to report and communicate on the progress and impact of programs.
- Engage your stakeholders: Company stakeholders, including employees and consumers, often want to take part in corporate relief efforts. Companies should not only provide channels for stakeholders to donate to relief efforts, but also make short- and long-term volunteer and giving opportunities available as appropriate.
- Communicate efforts externally and appropriately – and don't forget about social: No company wants to appear exploitative during a disaster. At the same time, companies that fail to communicate may be criticized for neglecting to contribute. To ensure transparency, companies should issue brief, facts-only news releases and leverage social media as a way to disperse critical fundraising and relief information during disasters.
- Don't give and run: Just because a disaster is no longer in the headlines, doesn't mean recovery is over. Although immediate relief needs are real and pressing, long-term rebuilding is a critical component of disaster efforts. Companies should be prepared to be involved for the long-haul, offering essential support for reconstruction.
 Guha-Sapir D, Vos F, Below R, with Ponserre S. Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2011: The Numbers and Trends. Brussels: CRED; 2012.
About the Research
The 2013 Cone Communications Disaster Relief Trend Tracker presents the findings of an online survey conducted February 7-28, 2013 by Ebiquity (formerly Echo Research) among a demographically representative sample of 10,287 adults, comprising 5,127 men and 5,160 women 18 years of age and older. The survey was conducted in 10 countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, India and Japan. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size is +/- 1% at a 95% level of confidence. The margin of error for individual country samples is higher. Some figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
About Cone Communications
Cone Communications (www.conecomm.com) is a public relations and marketing agency known for igniting brands with high-impact strategies and programs based in deep insights, unique subject matter expertise and innovation. Focusing on key areas such as consumer product media relations, social media, cause marketing, corporate social responsibility, nonprofit marketing, corporate communications and crisis prevention/management – the agency is positioned to help clients achieve both business and societal outcomes. Cone Communications is a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc.
About Diversified Agency Services
Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), manages Omnicom's holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.
Ebiquity (www.ebiquity.com) is a global media, marketing, and reputation consultancy. Ebiquity are leaders in above- and below-line communications tracking and research, providing independent data-driven insights to marketing, corporate communications, and public relations professionals to continuously improve their clients' business performance.
Ebiquity's Reputation & PR practice, formerly known as Echo Research, has a 24 year track record in marketing and communications research, providing high-quality research, maintaining strict control of the research process, creating tailored research reports, utilizing proprietary approaches and tools, and enjoying longevity of relationships with clients.
Ebiquity operates globally through their network of 21 offices in 14 countries. Today, with a cumulative client list of over 1,000 businesses worldwide, Ebiquity works in 33 major languages across 94 countries, with a multi-lingual and multi-cultural core in its skill set.
SOURCE Cone Communications