Mark Rose writes in PR Week's Week in Review:
What is Ronn Torossian thinking?
Torossian, CEO of 5W PR, really stepped in it this week and hubris and deflection will not save him. He needs to fire Juda Engelmayer and accept full responsibility for the latest ethical lapse at his company or suffer serious credibility damage.
The thumbnail of this outrageous story: Engelmayer impersonated a prominent Rabbi and fabicated other characters who posted laudatory comments about a 5W client and mimicked critics in blogs and chats. Shmarya Rosenberg of FailedMessiah.com did some sharp investigating and found that the posts were coming from Engelmayer.
At first, Torossian countered with his usual bluster: “I have complete confidence in knowing that my account team who runs these accounts did not make these posts.”
When Rosenberg of FailedMessiah.com persisted Engelmayer said that an intern was responsible and was fired. Friday, however, Torossian revealed that Engelmayer was covering up the deception with the fired intern story when he released a statement to the Jewish daily Forward saying “A senior staff member failed to be transparent in dealing with client matters. He has taken full responsibility.”
Torossian said Engelmayer was not fired. He would not explain further and fell back on message: “This battle is not about blogging, it is however about protecting the highest levels of Kashrut in the Jewish community.”
That statement stinks like a pile of rotting non-Kosher gefilte fish. Torossian has a knack for overshadowing his clients with his marginal defenses but this one is so outrageous that the PR community - if there is one - should rise up and demand some action.
Torossian is right. This battle is not about blogging. It’s about countering the widespread perception that all PR people are scheming liars who will saying anything and do anything to promote their clients without regard for ethics or morals. The client Torossian is representing, Agriprocessors, was recently the target of a huge immigration raid and the Rabbi that Engelmayer impersonated is attempting to create ethical standards for the production of kosher food.
PR 101 for Ronn Torossian: 1) Admit the mistake 2) Fire the offender 3) Apologize and vow it will never happen again 4) Institute policies to assure that it will never happen again. Stonewalling on this will not do him, or the PR industry, any good.
I'll just say that I'm not at all convinced Engelmayer was in this alone or that he acted without Torossian's knowledge. Engelmayer may end up being the fall guy – but I hope not. At the very least, he should not allow himself to go down alone.
The post that broke the story, part 2.
Agriprocessors / Rubashkin mistreatment of workers and related issues.
Rubashkin / Agriprocessors index page.
Previous 5W Scandal Posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14.