The Grand Rapids Business Journal carries an article (subscription required) today about the Seyferth/Meijer ethics story.
There are more comments from yours truly, Betty Pritchard and T. Michael Jackson.
More interesting is Ginny Seyferth's defense of her firm. Her most assertive point:
"We were publicly visible for almost a decade,” Seyferth said. “We worked side-by-side with supporting Meijer. It was very, very public.”
Once again, I hope so. People who know me and this blog know I am a cheerleader for PR, especially those who practice in West Michigan. However, I wonder where this assertion of public visibility was weeks ago when the allegations first emerged. If SST's activities were so clean, why not say so immediately and put all this to rest?
The lag time in denial of wrong doing will tend to favor the accusers. People might wonder if this assertion of ethical behavior is factual or just backpedaling, putting "lipstick on the pig." Now, in response to the late assertion that SST was ethical, there will be a demand for evidence. How were they public? Exactly what was their role? Was the citizen group formed on its own ? Was it clear that their communication services were provided by SST? If it was clear that SST was retained by Meijer, was it really clear that they were actively engaged in the recall? Can these questions be answered quickly, publicly, without having the lawyers parse everything? Legal involvement leads to doubt among the public.
At least this "very public" debate we're all having about this PR ethics issue should inform the community that PR professionals and educators alike are concerned about ethics and the public trust. We wrestle with the impact of our collective activities on society--as we should. That's the mark of a professional.