1 year ago
Friday, April 16, 2010
Webber: Okay, gentlemen, what’s this special meeting about? What’s the emergency?
Emmerich: Our meeting is about this. Here, have a look at it.
Webber: Looks like a picture of a watch.
Emmerich: It does, doesn’t it? It’s a picture of Alexander Hamilton’s watch, the watch that was in his pocket back in 1804 during the famous duel he fought with Aaron Burr.
Webber: During which, of course, Hamilton was killed. American History 101. What’s it got to do with us?
Thompson: Two weeks ago this watch was given to Mr. Strohmayer as a retirement gift by his loyal, devoted employees.
Webber: What? Must have cost them a fortune!
Thompson: It would have, if it had been the actual watch. There’s a company in Rapid City, South Dakota named “Chic Replique, Inc.” that makes copies of famous watches. They sell for about a hundred and fifty dollars each. They’ve got George Washington’s watch, for example. Their best seller is Abe Lincoln’s watch, the one he used to time the Gettysburg address. They’ve sold hundreds of those. And they made this Alexander Hamilton watch, now in the possession of our esteemed CEO.
Webber: They don’t claim these knockoffs are authentic, do they?
Emmerich: Of course not. All anyone has to do is turn any of these watches over and see “Chic Replique, Inc.” along with their email address, on the back.
Webber: Well, gentlemen, this looks like an easy problem to solve. All that’s needed is for one of the more courageous of you to go up to Strohmayer and tell him to turn the damn thing over and read what’s on the back.
Thompson: You don’t understand! Mr. Strohmayer is very moved by this present. He has called a press conference for tomorrow morning – local and national media – to make a brief speech of appreciation for this wonderful retirement gift from his devoted, loyal employees.
Webber: I can’t believe this! You’ve scheduled a press conference without even notifying the PR guy?
Thompson: Mr. Strohmayer didn’t want you or any other public relations person involved in this press conference. He wanted to come across as sincere, authentic.
Webber: What he’ll come across as is a sincere, authentic jackass.
Thompson: That kind of attitude isn’t going to be of much help.
Emmerich: To make things just a bit worse, the boss has hired an architect and is having an elaborate alcove, with special lighting, built in the living-room of his home to hold the watch. That niche is going to cost him about eight thousand bucks.
Webber: Eight thousand bucks to hold a hundred fifty-dollar watch. Makes sense.
Thompson: Way I see it, if we’re being charitable, we might assume the employee’s committee, the group who presented the watch to Mr. Strohmayer, was not aware it was a fake. If we’re not so charitable, the whole thing would seem to be a kind of wise-guy prank that’s being played on the CEO. The end result of that could be catastrophic – for a number of us.
Emmerich: “Train wreck” wouldn’t begin to describe it.
Thompson: Okay, P R person, you’re supposed to know what to do in emergency situations, what’s your recommendation?
Webber: Wait a minute. You wait till the bridge has collapsed, the train is headed over the cliff toward the river below, and now – now – you want the PR guy to do something about a possible train wreck?
Emmerich: Come on, this is serious. What are we supposed to do?
Webber: Okay. First off, someone’s got to notify Strohmayer that he’s been “punk’d.” I don’t envy the guy who gets that job. Second, you can’t cancel tomorrow’s press conference; you’d wind up with a large group of hostile media. Tell the boss to hold the conference but make this the topic: the large donation our corporation is making to a worthy charity.
Thompson: What charity?
Webber: Any charity – the National Association of Lame-Brained Business Executives, for example. Whatever.
Emmerich: And then?
Webber: And then sit back and hope the train stays on the tracks. Enjoy the ride!