I remember the first time I went to the Bloomberg offices with a client. It was a completely open concept office. Free snacks and drinks everywhere. Multi-media format interviews. The year was 1991 or 1992. And Bloomberg was changing the news business.
The veteran PR pros I worked with at the time told me that AP, Reuters and UPI were the most trusted news sources in the world, and that nothing would ever diminish their relevance – so Bloomberg was nice to do, but it would be better if we could get clients a “real” opportunity. Until Bloomberg Terminals were on all of the trading floors, and publications like The New York Times were taking news from Bloomberg the same way they did from AP. Fast forward a couple of decades, and not too many clients are asking if we can set them up with UPI.
No doubt, Michael Bloomberg is a visionary. And just like Bill Gates with global health and Warren Buffett with philanthropic giving, he is taking his success as a business leader and using it to change the world. Of most recent note, Bloomberg is leading the charge to battle climate change, filling a void left by the United States government with a $15 million pledge. But even more significant than a wealthy guy pledging money, Bloomberg was quick to point out that we can look to our cities and our states to work for solutions on climate change when our federal government won’t.
Cities, states and companies are all joining together to support the goals of the Paris Climate Accord, providing a new model for leadership and advocacy on major global and societal issues. The playing field for citizenship is changing. CSR isn’t just about supporting a local cause or making environmentally-friendly commitments within your four walls, or even in your supply chain. And while this trend has been emerging and evolving for some time, Michael Bloomberg’s bold move has demonstrated once again that leaders who are willing to be bold change the world.
This has me thinking about the role of citizenship in building corporate reputation. And the power of a leader to convene and inspire others to act. Over the next several posts I’m going to be exploring this topic a little bit more. I’d love to hear from you about your thoughts, or examples of companies that are moving beyond traditional CSR to advocacy and other ideas about the topic.