Dave Armon's blog

Dave Armon is CMO of 3BL Media and President of the Corporate Responsibility Association, which publishes CR Magazine, produces the COMMIT!Forum, ranks the 100 Best Corporate Citizens and manages the Corporate Responsibility Association. Previously, Dave was CMO of 3BL Media and a member of the company's board of directors. A former journalist, Dave spent 20 years in management at PR Newswire, where he was president and COO.  

Viewers don’t want a polished sound bite machine, says author of book blasting media training

When I travel to Northampton, Massachusetts, to spend time at 3BL Media’s headquarters, I invariably walk away smarter about the way corporate social responsibility and sustainability communicators do their jobs.

My colleagues on 3BL Media’s media consultant team work closely with clients, publishing content and reporting back on the effectiveness of various media types.

While some content types ebb and flow in popularity, video remains a reliable performer. 

It’s no wonder.  YouTube is the second most trafficked website in the world, with 20 billion visits a month. ...

CR Software Platforms Share Big Data Findings

One of the benefits of running a digital platform used by corporate responsibility teams is being able to learn from the successes and mistakes of your clients, and to access big data to help demystify important issues.

For example, we were curious whether 3BL Media clients were increasing engagement around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Mining the 3BL Media news distribution platform showed a doubling of content referencing the SDGs in 2016 on top of a huge spike the prior...

Baltimore Utility Chief Emphasizes CSR Following Freddy Gray Death

Freddy Gray’s death while in the custody of Baltimore police pushed the riot-torn city’s only African America big company CEO into action, emphasizing corporate social responsibility to heal the scab that had been ripped off the community”

Baltimore Gas & Electric chief Calvin G. Butler Jr. said the 2015 death and racial strife pushed the 200-year-old utility to use the power of procurement in partnership with service providers and nonprofits to hire and train more people from inner city neighborhoods.

“The economic divide was getting wider and wider,” Butler said of...

Corporate Reputation Drives Both Kinds of CCO

All CCOs are not created equally. But they’re getting closer.

After decades working alongside chief communications officers, I figured other corporate professional masquerading under the CCO acronym had little in common with the wordsmiths who manage corporate messaging.

That myth was exploded when I attended a gathering of the other CCO-- chief compliance officers – and realized their concerns about corporate reputation were completely aligned with the ink-stained wretches who manage comms.

The occasion was the Global Ethics Summit, an annual conference presented by...

Aspiring to be a Mensch: Big Budget TV Spots Lead with Social Impact Messages

Being a mensch seems to connect with consumers.

Two big-budget national TV ad campaigns – one from pharma giant Pfizer and the other from the wealth management firm Ameriprise Financial – are trying to drive sales through storylines involving the kind of social impact work usually reserved for nonprofits and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

In the case of Pfizer, taking the fibromyalgia drug Lyrica allows a man to do what he loves, donning a blue “volunteer” shirt and ...

Box of Chocolates Triggers ‘V-Waste Guilt’

As someone who spends quite a bit of time with sustainability professionals, I try to minimize my own environmental footprint. 

So it was a bummer earlier this week when my efforts to be a good husband and green-minded consumer generated unwanted V-waste. 

My Valentine’s Day shopping routine was disrupted because the New York City jewelry and chocolate stores where I routinely bought gifts had both recently closed, presumably the victims of steep midtown Manhattan rent hikes.

Rather than undocking a Citibike and pedaling a mile or two to buy a pound of delicious...

‘Transformative Power of Transparency’ Tops on New GRI Chief’s Agenda

Unlike another world leader who is one month into his new job, Tim Mohin has heralded his new administration at GRI by kicking off a global listening tour.

A veteran sustainability officer at tech giants like AMD, Apple and Intel, Mohin has yet to issue any sweeping executive orders.  He took his roadshow to Phoenix this week for the “GRI Reporters’ Summit” and received input from companies using the Global Reporting Initiative’s standards to keep stakeholders briefed on environmental, social and governance issues.

“I know that reporting can be a positive force for change,”...

Everyday is Earth Day for Minneapolis Media Focused on Sustainability

Unlike many cities where Sunday newspaper readership has tanked, plenty of Minneapolis residents still treasure delivery of a chunky Star Tribune as part of their weekend routine.

“It’s our meal ticket,” Business Editor Thom Kupper said of the 580,000-circulation Sunday edition during a 3BL Media event for sustainability communicators.

Those pitching Minnesota’s largest daily need to understand that the “digital first” mantra adhered to by print outlets in some markets does not apply for his team. 

Kupper, whose business reporting team numbers 17, is continually...

Election Weighs Heavily as Sustainable Business Execs Gather in DC

Congress returned to work Monday for a lame duck session following last week’s election. Today, hundreds of corporate social responsibility (CSR) executives head to Washington hoping their sustainable business missions are not up-ended by a Donald Trump presidency.

The elephant in the room at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's 2016 Corporate Citizenship Conference is whether campaign rhetoric turns into policy, and whether business leaders will stay the course on ambitious social impact and environmental initiatives.

I will be attending the conference, themed “Progress...

Kumquat is the New S-word

If there’s any one topic that people working in sustainability can agree, it’s that their sector has an identity problem.

Acronyms abound. EHS, ESG, CSR and CR are just a few. There are professionals who feel that Social Purpose or Shared Value address both human rights and environmental issues. But just as many execs are solidly in the Sustainability camp. 

Joel Makower, the winning author and chairman of GreenBiz Group, says that the kids he interacts with will invariably describe the world they want to live in using sustainability language but without using “the S word.”...

Prepare for Deep Dive when Pitching Sustainability to New York Times

One of the best punchlines delivered so far at BSR Conference came from New York Times sustainability reporter David Gelles when panelists were asked to recommend new breakthrough communications techniques.

“If I could briefly plug print advertising,” Gelles said, referring to a full-page ad that appeared on the back of the Times business section today from the office chat platform Slack, which used the space to deliver an...

3BL Media Recognized by Springfield Chamber as Region’s Third Fastest Growing Company

When 3BL Media advertises for talent on job boards in western Massachusetts, we’ve used the phrase, “Silicon Alley Meets the Pioneer Valley.”

Juxtaposing New York City’s bustling media tech scene against the beautiful backdrop of the Berkshires seems to be working for 3BL Media, which has just been honored by the Springfield Regional Chamber for being third in revenue growth among regional companies.

Two of my colleagues from our Northampton headquarters, Jon Shrair and Rebecca Kreke, brought home a beautiful trophy from the...

Forget RBIs. I’m Keeping Score of CSR During the World Series

While most fans are watching player performance or yucking it up over the lack of respect suffered by the Cubs and Indians for generations, I’m keeping an eye on the fall classic for social and environmental sidebars.

Clevelander Gary Weiland sent me a photo today showing him and his niece, Jennifer Frantz, beaming with pride at Progressive Field Wednesday night.

Weiland, a veteran corporate communications executive who worked for the Cleveland Clinic for more than 20 years, donned a “Green Team” shirt and collected recyclables from fans between innings.  He and Jennifer got...

Sustainability Beyond the Photo Op

One of the perks of attending sustainability and corporate social responsibility events is exposure to business leaders who are genuinely excited about the way their organizations are making the world a better place.

Increasingly, I’m encountering senior executives who encourage their peers to look closely at CSR programs to make sure they have adequate scale to actually make a difference, and that they connect to a company’s mission.

Bill DiCroce, the newly appointed CEO Veolia North America, is publicly applauding American business leaders for focusing on sustainability as...

Analysts Mum on Sustainability During Earnings Calls

Questions from sell-side stock analysts about corporate sustainability issues remain few and far between on the quarterly earnings conference calls held by publicly traded companies.

More and more institutional investors, however, are digging deep into voluminous sustainability reports to gain a strategic advantage.

Those are some of the observations shared this week during the Bloomberg BNA Sustainability Business Summit in New York.

James Hnat joined JetBlue Airways in 2001 and has listened to every one of the NASDAQ-listed company’s calls with investors. JetBlue’s...

Offshore Wind Power, From Rhode Island to Copenhagen

For the past couple of summers, our family has watched as construction workers ferried back and forth between Rhode Island’s Point Judith and a wind farm being built off nearby Block Island.

We knew the turbines would be spinning soon when the main highway traversing the peninsula was gouged to make way for a cable that would bring ashore any surplus electricity not consumed by Block Island residents and businesses.

For the sustainarati in the Ocean State there is clearly a sense of pride that the United State’s first offshore wind project got approved and built there. ...

‘Purpose is like Pokemon,’ contends Mr. Goodvertising

Among an impressive line-up of deep thinkers, CEOs and Ph.Ds sharing wisdom about instilling purpose into businesses, it was Homer Simpson that drove the point home.

Corporate branding executives are not unlike the lovable cartoon oaf battling with his alter ego, contents Tom Kolster, author and founder of the Danish creative agency Goodvertising.

“You have a mission and a vision, and then introduce a purpose – a third thing. How are you ever going to move forward with that?” he...

University of California's "Audacious" Climate Action Plan

If the University of California was a state, it would be the 15th largest.

The annual budget for UC is 20 times larger than Arizona, where Janet Napolitano was governor from 2003 to 2009.

So the impact of California’s 10 public university campuses, hospitals and research labs becoming carbon neutral in their energy consumption is an “audacious” goal, Napolitano told Verge 16, the GreenBiz Media Group conference, in Santa Clara, California.

The decision to tackle energy as a primary issue at UC stemmed from the same kind of assessment of meta risks she...

Powering Data Centers with Renewable Energy

The typical Internet data center consumes as much electricity as a small U.S. state, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, Rob Bernard, told attendees at the Verge 16 sustainability conference in Silicon Valley today.

As oceans warm, lakes dry up and water systems collapse due to climate change, the tech giants enabling cloud computing are mobilizing so surfing the web doesn’t contribute to the problem.

“It’s easy to get discouraged,” Bernard acknowledged, recommending attendees read the e-book, “...

Huffington Post’s Confino promises sharp uptick in social, environmental coverage

Leaning heavily on video and guided by metrics showing readers crave stories about solutions to environmental and social problems, a senior Huffington Post editor says coverage in the post-Ariana era will emphasize “positive journalism”

Jo Confino, speaking to CSR and sustainability communicators during a 3BL Media webinar, said the highly trafficked news site is determined to produce a flood of content and partner with activist organizations to drive change in the areas it deems important.

“The thing about...

‘Copycat’ Doesn’t Have to Precede ‘Crime;’ Huffington Post Executive Editor to Discuss News Outlet’s Focus Sept. 7 in Free 3BL Media Webinar

Ariana Huffington pledged in early 2015 to dedicate more editorial space to positive stories on her namesake news site, hoping stories about solutions rather than problems would inspire copycat acts of kindness.

Now that entrepreneurial media mogul is stepping down from her post, news industry observers are keen to see how the highly trafficked portal will evolve in a post-Arianna regime.

We will be providing some insights into the editorial direction of the Huffington Post on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at noon ET when Jo Confino, executive editor, Impact & Innovation and...

Top Four Reasons to Attend a CSR or Sustainability Conference This Fall

Professional development events exist for just about every career, and they’ve been around since Thomas Edison held his first, “How to Change a Light Bulb” seminar for aspiring electricians (attendees earned 10 CEU credits and went home with some nice tsotchkes).

For the growing number of corporate and nonprofit professionals focused on social impact and sustainability initiatives, there is more choice in fall 2016 than ever before for events aimed at showcasing successful programs and the brands that made them happen. 

Getting approval from corporate controllers for...

Sustainability ‘Pioneers’ Honored for Backing SDGs

The mechanics of corporate disclosure were a big part of my two decades on the management team of a commercial newswire service. 

As the biggest distributor of earnings releases and other time-sensitive data, our team worked with CFOs, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications to quench an insatiable thirst from stakeholders for market-moving financial information.

Fast forward to 2016 and we’re seeing thousands of companies providing varying levels of voluntary sustainability reporting and healthy respect for the handful of stock changes that are starting to mandate...

Nasdaq President Addresses Sustainability Reporting

The president of Nasdaq Inc. served as a different kind of market maker at a gathering of the Sustainerati this week.

Adena Friedman was celebrated at the United National Global Compact’s Leadership Summit as a role model for those just beginning their careers in sustainability and social impact work. Starting as an intern as she finished business school in 1993, she is now widely seen as the apparent heir to Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld, when he retires.

Friedman was also...

CEOs Urged to Talk ESG, Though Wall Street Wants EPS

CEOs need to ramp up communications about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues even when Wall Street is more concerned with short-term financial performance like earnings per share (EPS), according to a new report from the Conference Board.

While acknowledging that reporting about sustainability is at an all-time high, the failure of the investment community to engage can be remedied if CEOs take the lead, maintains Thomas Singer, principal researcher in corporate leadership at the Conference Board.

“In addition to incorporating sustainability into annual...


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