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Do good and do well

In "Altruism has its costs unless it helps profits" (Letters, AA, Feb. 25), Prof. Geoffrey Lantos states,"Only when corporate philanthropy enhances profits via its public relations value is it ethically justifiable as a win-win situation... ." Among those who actually run companies, the recognition that social responsibility is good for business is not a public relations maneuver. It's just a reality of business.

Companies that support socially conscious programs and causes engender measurably greater investor loyalty during the normal fluctuations of the stock market. They also tend to have lower lobbyist expenses and regulatory legal costs. Companies that are positively engaged in the programs and activities of local communities (especially the communities where their employees reside) tend to have a happier, more loyal workforce, with significantly lower employee turnover and absenteeism, and higher employee productivity.

Companies that are recognized by Forbes and Fortune as "most admired" have a significant competitive advantage in attracting and keeping the best executive talent. And when it comes to workforce diversity, the top 10 companies listed as "Best companies for Asians, Blacks & Hispanics" all outperformed the S&P 500 on a one-year, three-year and five-year basis. "That," according to Fortune, "doesn't look like a fluke."

Most highly successful CEOs will tell you "doing well" and "doing good" are inextricably intertwined. College professors don't have to turn a profit [or] rely on the loyalty, morale or productivity of their workforce. But the colleges and universities where they teach do. These institutions have shareholders and customers to whom they are responsible. Which is precisely why these schools commit considerable time, money and human resources to participating in the "altruistic activities" that Prof. Lantos looks down upon.

Mark S. Robinson

Managing Partner

S/R Communications Alliance

New York

Prof. Lantos' letter responded to "Brands in new world" (Forum, AA, Feb. 4) by Scott Bedbury.

Study underestimates station role in PSAs

The Kaiser Family Foundation did a disservice to non-profits that rely on public service ad campaigns to communicate with the public. In reading "Public service ads: Study tracks air time" (AA, March 4), which reported on the foundation's recent study, one would think there is virtually no public service air time available, and that the little time that is is in the overnight hours.

The flaw lies in the fact that the study reported on the programming trends of the broadcast and cable TV networks. As a company that distributes more than 100 public service campaigns each year for organizations such as the American Red Cross, Girl Scouts of the USA and the American Heart Association, we know the PSA action is, was and always will be on the local affiliate level.

Unlike the networks, which target the needs and interests of the majority of the population, local stations are committed to and in tune with their hometown audiences. The more that a spot can be localized-with a local number or community contact-the more likely it is to receive airplay. The Kaiser study also maintained that the small amount of time allocated for PSA use is relegated to between midnight and 6 A.M. While PSAs do air in the overnight, the majority of PSAs air in other dayparts.

Furthermore, when broadcast networks opt to air a PSA, the local affiliates have the option of blocking the spot and instead airing either their own local PSAs or station promos. In the vast majority of cases, the local affiliates will block the spot. In short, the key to effective airplay for PSAs is on the local level.

Mark Dembo

Chief Operating Officer

West Glen Communications

New York

The Kaiser study surveyed local TV station managers on the kinds of PSAs they would air and reported stations were more likely than networks to air PSAs. It did not say how many PSAs were aired locally. It counted local PSA messages aired by network affiliates in the totals reported for the networks.

Ground Zero ad was out of place

It's good to see that Lower Manhattan is getting "back to work" ("Back to work," AA, March 11). But what irony (or insensitivity) that a Hollywood studio is promoting a movie called "Resident Evil" on a billboard at the entrance to the Ground Zero viewing platform. At the same Fulton St. and Broadway location, we have posted a billboard salute to the victims and heroes of the World Trade Center tragedy. "Nightly Business Report," TV's most-watched daily business news program, is the only national TV production to lose its broadcast studio on 9/11.

Stuart Zuckerman

VP-Sales and Marketing

Nightly Business Report

New York

TV news: sound bites without depth, analysis

Randall Rothenberg's `"Nightline' fight masks need for change in static TV news" (Viewpoint, AA, March 18) is right on point.

I worked for CBS between 1972 and 1982 and saw the transformation first hand from the "Tiffany" network/Edward R. Murrow news operation into the sham it is today.

I'm not sure if Dan Rather's on-air weeping during the 9/11 coverage was for the tragedy or for realizing he would soon be back to doing a news headline show of sound bites without depth or real analysis. ...

Murrow left CBS a legacy that ironically is beautifully capsulized by one of our premiere advertising agency's mission statement: Truth, well told. The Arthur Taylor/Larry Tisch/Van Gordon Sauter legacy: We can go Murdoch one lower.

Bruce A. Braun

San Francisco


* In "Upfront revenue seen rising 6%" (March 25, P. 1), it was incorrectly reported that buyers' and sellers' early projections for the 2002 broadcast network prime-time upfront averaged out to $425 million for AOL Time Warner's WB and $300 million for Viacom's UPN. The correct figures are $500 million for WB and $200 million for UPN.

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