Monday, January 07, 2008

GRBJ Adds More to Seyferth, Meijer Story

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.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was diappointed to see Seyferth's final quote in the GRBJ article about "standing next to our client" and "not walking." To me, this inferred that SST was shoring up an errant Meijer. My impression is that SST was responsible for getting Meijer in a tight spot. I know some of the blame lies with Meijer for not keeping a close eye on all that was happening, but I imagine Meijer let the experts take the lead as so many clients are happy to do - that's why they pay the big bucks. Seyferth's quote looks like SST is trying to smoothly sidestep any blame and look noble doing it.

Anonymous said...

Just in case readers still have doubts about SST's illegal and unreported involvement with the Acme recall election in Feb, 2007 - I urge you to cross check the following names from the TC Record Eagle article http://www.record-eagle.com/local/local_story_357093334.html and the billing statements http://blog.mlive.com/grpress_extra/2007/12/documents_in_meijer_acme_contr.html

Scott Nowakowski (Meijer)
Tim Stoepker (Meijer attorney)
Stacie Behler (Meijer VP)
Jim Goss (Acme resident & developer)
Ron Reinhold (Acme resident)
Noel Knopf (Acme resident & defeated in election as clerk)
Lewis aka Louis Griffith (Acme resident)
Dan Rosa (Acme resident)

Also feel free to search Acme twp minutes for any reference of SST staff introducing themselves at meetings, as all speakers are required to do so

From an Acme taxpayer who knows what dereliction of duty means

former spin doctor said...

It's fascinating to watch this issue unfold. In the words of Willie Wonka, "The suspense is terrible... I hope it lasts."

Just a casual observer said...

The great irony is that one of Seyferth's core competencies is supposedly "crisis management", yet they have mismanaged this personal and professional crisis for their own firm!

I though the lesson from the Tylenol scare was to admit to the problem, come clean, take action, ask for trust, prove yourself, and then move on.

Seyferth has done none of this.