'Fire prevention' lesson

The metaphor is "fire prevention" versus "fire fighting," and the operative phrase is "self-inflicted" crisis. ("VP Linked to HR Crisis," PRWeek, September 25) This particular "crisis" was entirely avoidable on many levels.

The metaphor is "fire prevention" versus "fire fighting," and the operative phrase is "self-inflicted" crisis. ("VP Linked to HR Crisis," PRWeek, September 25) This particular "crisis" was entirely avoidable on many levels.

First, "pre-texting" is dumb, unethical, and unbecoming of any company. Had there been PR counsel at the table when the decisions were being made to engage in the activity, I would certainly hope that the advice would have been that the entire endeavor was misguided.

Second, blaming the situation on the board of directors or certain individuals fails to recognize that, at the very least, the HP culture was one that allowed its most senior management to consider and implement such unethical behavior.

Third, I have to question the collective intelligence of a senior management team that truly believes that it could get away with this type of behavior. Did management really think they could hide the company's actions simply by hiring agencies a long way, geographically, from its home base?

Forget for the moment how the company handled this "crisis." What should be asked instead is what could those involved have been thinking. And remember how many "crises" can be avoided by taking the "fire prevention" versus "fire fighting" approach to managing reputation.

Gary Tobin
Principal
Tobin & Associates
San Francisco

Take on Ireland 'absurd'

OK, so a group that very few people have ever heard of puts out a report saying Irish companies have pledged not to spend corporate money on strippers. ("Ireland has a new view on strippers." (PR Play of the Week, PRWeek, August 28)

And PRWeek uses that as an opportunity to make absurd comments like "50 companies signed the pledge?" (Fifty companies, which must be, what, about half the companies in Ireland?) It then goes on to say that Ireland is a country that is best known for beer and fighting. Would you dare make those comments about another country, or is it simply OK to say the Irish are drunks?

Great PR men like John Scanlon would certainly have said "shame on you" or perhaps in Irish he'd have said, "Póg mo thóin!"

Ken Kerrigan
Ernst & Young
New York

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