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March 26, 2012

PRSA: Companies Shouldn't Be Afraid of Disclosure — 'Wall Street Journal' Letter to the Editor

The Public Relations Society of America writes in a March 24, 2012, letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal that companies should embrace disclosure and transparency with respect to their political contributions. Responding to a March 19, 2012, Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Corporate Disclosure Assault," PRSA Chair and CEO Gerard F. Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA, says that disclosure “is a smart business practice in an age when this information is likely to leak out anyway.”
 
Corbett continues: “Companies should not be afraid of disclosure so long as it is done in a strategic and responsible manner.”
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The Wall Street Journal
Published: March 24, 2012
 
Your editorial, "The Corporate Disclosure Assault" (March 19), ignores a fundamental reality that is reshaping the business and political landscape: Americans' growing distrust of corporations. That distrust is based on, in many cases, the perceived lack of transparency and disclosure by companies of all sizes. Disclosure of corporate political contributions has nothing to do with unions or activists using it as a "PR club to harass companies until they stop donating." Rather, it is a smart business practice in an age when this information is likely to leak out anyway (think WikiLeaks, Anonymous and the like).
 
Companies should not be afraid of disclosure so long as it is done in a strategic and responsible manner. Unfortunately, all too often businesses only disclose information when they are forced by reason of ignorance or found to be engaging in unethical or illegal practices. This is no way to run a business, and it does little to allay the public's growing trust issues with corporations.

Gerard F. Corbett
Chair and CEO
Public Relations Society of America
New York

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