Ferpi > News > Fleishman Hillard nei guai con il codice etico dell'Assorel americana dopo la denuncia del San Franc

Fleishman Hillard nei guai con il codice etico dell'Assorel americana dopo la denuncia del San Franc

11/05/2004
Uno scoop del giornalista del SF Chronicle David Lazarus ha scoperto un legame molto stretto tra la società di comunicazione Fleishman Hillard e il colosso delle telecomunicazioni statunitense SBC: come mai Marc Bien, ufficialmente vice presidente per la Corporate communication di SBC è uno stipendiato del gruppo di comunicazione Fleishman Hillard?Per seguire tutti i passi della vicenda, ecco il report del San Francisco Chronicle.REPORTER SEES F-H CODE VIOLATION  San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Lazarus says he was shocked to find out in SBC Communications "internal documents" that Marc Bien, who has business cards that say he is VP of corporate communications of SBC, is actually an employee of Fleishman-Hillard. Lazarus has been covering a possible strike against the $40 billion telecommunications company which is based in San Antonio.F-H CEOJohn Graham The reporter said company documents he obtained show that Bien "is actually on the payroll of PR powerhouse F-H. He is, in other words, an outside contractor, as are dozens of other F-H employees who assist with SBC's corporate spin."The Council of PR Firms noted that the Chronicle, on May 3, 1996, ran a story saying SBC's senior VP-CC is Linda Mills who was also a senior partner at F-H and that SBC's general counsel saw no conflict "in any legal, moral or ethical sense."Lazarus should have known about this story, said the CPRF.Mills, who is the wife of F-H CEO John Graham, was identified in the 1995 SBC annual report as being an SVP at SBC while also being an XVP, senior partner and in various positions with an international communications consultancy since 1978." It did not identify F-H as the consultancy.The matter came up in 1996 because SBC was acquiring Pacific Telesis Group which had a policy against any employees having any relationship whatsoever ("financial or otherwise") with suppliers.SBC general counsel Jim Ellis said at the time that there was no conflict in "any legal, moral or ethical sense...F-H's interests are aligned with ours."The Chronicle story at the time quoted officials at Chevron, PG&E and Southern Pacific who said they found the relationship "unusual," according to writer Jeff Pelline.Lazarus wrote that Bien "has appeared many times in this column representing SBC's position on a variety of matters" using the title VP of CC. "His business cards say as much," wrote Lazarus.Ed Presberg, SVP of F-H and one of the "leaders of the SBC account," said that Bien wears an SBC ID badge that "in plain view identifies him as a `contractor' and an employee of F-H."Lazarus said he went to the office of Bien, who was in shirtsleeves rather than a jacket, and may have missed the badge if it was on Bien's jacket.But the business card of Bien only gave his SBC data including phones and address, said Lazarus. He said he joined the Chronicle in 1999 and did not know about the 1996 story.Bien works full time for SBC, having his office, phone and his e-mail address there, said Presberg. He is VP-CC, West region.Said Presberg: "F-H acted ethically and appropriately in all respects regarding this inquiry and in our ongoing representation of SBC."It is no secret that some F-H employees represent SBC. Many of the reporters who cover the company are aware of it. We thought David was aware of it because it was previously in the Chronicle."If reporters ask, we freely disclose it. It's not an issue. Reporters want fast, accurate information and that's what we provide. The FH representation of SBC wasn't remotely relevant to David's immediate question, and that's why it wasn't mentioned proactively. There was no attempt to conceal it."Lazarus notes that he quoted an "SBC spokesman" on the company's use of hundreds of outside contractors, "a contentious issue in the contract talks with union members," only to find out that Bien, himself, is a "non-employee."Cripps Says It's "Misleading" Kathy Cripps, president of the Council of PR Firms, is quoted by Lazarus as initially saying, "Our code of ethics makes it very clear that member firms must be truthful with the media and the public...the code does not seem to be being followed here."Lazarus wrote that "After speaking with SBC, Cripps called me back to say she didn't think the code had been violated. Bien had not deliberately tried to deceive anyone, she explained."Continued Cripps, according to Lazarus: "His being a contractor should have been disclosed. It shows poor judgment. It's misleading. But I don't think it's unethical."Cripps is in London today (May 6) and could not be reached.The code of the CPRF appears to leave little, if any wiggle room on honesty with the press and public.It says: "In communicating with the public and media, member firms will maintain total accuracy and truthfulness." The code of PR Society of America is equally forceful on standards of communicating with the press and public."We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interest of those we represent and in communicating with the public," says the section of the code headlined "Honesty."Under "Intent," the code says, "We maintain the integrity of relationships with the media, government officials and the public."Under "Guidelines" it says a member shall "be honest and accurate in all communications."Galloway  E-mails have been sent to David Rickey, chair of the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards of PRSA; Gary McCormick, vice chair; Del Galloway, president of PRSA, and Cedric Bess, manager of PR of PRSA.In a further comment to Lazarus, Cripps reportedly said that the CPRF "could use better guidelines."Lazarus added: "Funny, I thought that bit about being truthful with the media and public pretty much covered it."

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