James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, Fellow IABC gave the keynote presentation at the Minnesota Business Ethics Awards on May 13, 2015. His remarks from that event are republished here.
The main player in our story is George White. He was the 61-year-old chief executive of a Fortune 500 medical products manufacturer when we met.
George came to his company right out of college and within a few years became the Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing. Eighteen years ago, he was promoted to Chief Executive, the office held when we met.
The occasion for meeting George was his likely indictment by a federal Grand Jury along with several other employees for adulterating a class of medical products. Their main production facility on the East Coast had been raided by the FBI a few days earlier.
This story begins with a call from a friend of ours who owned a medium sized PR firm in New Jersey. He asked if I would talk to one of his client’s companies who had just been raided by the FBI. He called me because he loved doing product publicity, visibility, great healthcare stories and good works.
He was really uncomfortable with people carrying shot guns and wearing jackets that said FBI on the back. He knew that I loved the tough stuff, scary stuff, which was true. Initial meetings like these are usually pretty tense, perhaps a little irritable. The only one, who wants to be in the room with me, is me. The client’s usual greeting is, “I’ve heard about you (people like you, you people), and I’m not sure I really want to meet you.”
But we proceeded anyway.