Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spartan Quote Greek to Me

The Grand Rapids Press article about Spartan Stores acquiring the Felpausch grocery chain includes this comment from a Spartan spokesperson:

"This is part of our strategic growth plan through distribution customers and acquisitions, when it makes sense for Spartan," said Jeanne Norcross, spokeswoman for the retailer. "Felpausch operates in communities where we don't have markets or stores, and this will only strengthen a relationship we've had for more than 50 years."

I wonder if what "makes sense for Spartan" makes sense for the average Press reader. Apparently we need a cleanup in whatever aisle the PR department is shelved.

First of all, distribution customers and acquisitions is a bit too much jargon. Does it mean Spartan plans to grow by both acquiring grocery chains and by working with more distributors to carry Spartan brands? If so, say so.

Meanwhile, "when it makes sense for Spartan" sounds self-centered. Sure, business decisions have to have business benefits. But PR is about mutual benefits, for vendors, partners, customers, community etc. Saying something to that end would play better in the local daily.

The last sentence seems like two concrete ideas joined together with duct tape. If you don't have markets or stores, how are you strengthening a relationship? I know, the relationship is with Felpausch, not the communities. But it requires some inference to get that.

PR people are often encouraged to speak more to business interests, particularly those who work in corporate PR. That makes sense to a point. But we can never forget that PR is about building relationships with ALL publics. When comments sound like board room banter more than public conversation, it's time to sit back and reconsider the publics to whom a corporate spokesperson is speaking.

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