Blog real story in scandal

When I read Ted McKenna's piece (PRWeek, May 8) on Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson's problems with plagiarism, I was surprised by the viciousness of the comments.

When I read Ted McKenna's piece (PRWeek, May 8) on Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson's problems with plagiarism, I was surprised by the viciousness of the comments.

I know I'm a bit biased because my company does work for Raytheon. However, the experts quoted made him out to be as reprehensible as Ken Lay or Dennis Kozlowski.

Let's set the record straight. Swanson plagiarized in a book he was giving away. He didn't lie to employees; he didn't defraud shareholders or the government, or bribe Congress.

In fact, since he's taken over, the share price has doubled and the company's finances are stronger than they've been in years. And both he and the board did exactly what most of the so-called experts would advise. He admitted his mistake, apologized, and took responsibility. The board acknowledged the problem and sent a message that it didn't approve. But your experts suggest the board should remove a CEO that has seen two years of healthy growth, is honest enough to admit his mistakes, and is widely supported by his employees. That would damage the company far more than a few phrases borrowed from a 1940s leaflet.

The real story here was the role of the blogosphere.

An obscure blogger discovered the problem and alerted USA Today. Why didn't he contact Raytheon and engage the CEO in a conversation? He told The San Diego Union-Tribune he didn't think he could break through the corporate barriers.

The point is that once again an obscure blogger gets famous by "outing" a high-profile individual who has done something wrong. Corporate America needs to wake up to the fact that in this new era, as Shakespeare said, "The truth will out." Sooner or later, the bad news will find you.

If Raytheon had made it easier to engage the blogger in conversation, would this have been as big a deal?

Katie Delahaye Paine
CEO, KDPaine & Partners
Durham, NH

NCCU merits mention

Perhaps it's just me, but Keith O'Brien's article about the PR fallout from the Duke rape scandal (PRWeek, April 24) mentions predominantly black North Carolina Central University (NCCU) nowhere. It also cavalierly refers to the alleged victim, an NCCU student and single mother who earned extra money exotic dancing, not as a student, but as a stripper. The last time I checked, this scenario involved students from Duke and NCCU, and both universities were in crisis PR mode.

NCCU may be just a small, historically black college to you, meriting no mention in contrast with the considerable copy devoted to Duke's all-important lacrosse season, but for what it's worth, it's the alma mater of North Carolina's (non-African-American) governor. This gives it something of a profile that a journalist might want to note.

Ronald Childs
Media relations director
Flowers Communications Group

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