The Dow Chemical's Human Element campaign may not have taken it to a level of humanizing it in it's first iteration of the campaign, but it was a start of showing the company's commitment to critical issues facing the world in which it operates.
This is tough when you're a positioned in people's minds as a "chemical" company. But they try.
So could press releases and advertising be part of an extreme makeover kit? Consider what they are up against. Dow inherited (OK, bought) Union Carbide in 2001. Those of you born before 1984 will remember that Union Carbide was associated with Bhopal, the huge pesticide-related tragedy in India that killed thousands of villagers. Dow has to operate in a PR world where organizations other than them keep this story alive, and issue 'lipstick on a pig" press releases like this about long term contamination. Thanks to the internet and our access to information is only a keyword away, straightforward PR won't cut it.
Against this backdrop, take a look at Dow's second phase of the Human Element campaign. The press releases on the Dow site don't scream out CSR (corporate social responsibility), but bring attention to climate change issues, water and food supplies are built-in. It's sponsorship of Blue Planet Run with National Geographic has a non-linear approach to a PR campaign, that has advertising, celebrity, media, and outreach all blended together. There's a Celebrity-endorsed sneaker selling on eBay (auction closes July 20th). There's a team blog covering the 95-day, 16-country Blue Planet Run. And there are press releases like this that don't tell you much considering what good in-depth coverage is coming off the blog.
No matter what your position is on Dow, you have to recognize that this is a well thought out program supported by good marketing communications. If it's good PR, it's because it's so well integrated into the other components, and invisible.